Saturday marked the final day of competition in the individual championships for show jumping at NAJYRC. The competition featured two rounds that determined the winners of the junior and young rider division, with the top 12 riders after the first round returning for the second. This final day contributed to the test of endurance the event provides, marking the 4th and 5th rounds in four days for these horses at the highest jump height.
The junior division did not have much movement at the top in today’s competition—the top three riders going in to today all remained in their positions. Sophie Simpson and Juan Pablo Gaspar Albanez both had rails down but maintained their overall brilliance for the weekend to capture the bronze and silver medals. Vivian Yowan continued her remarkable show posting two more clear rounds today, knocking no rails down for all five rounds over the past four days. It was a tremendously impressive display by her and her horse Vornado Van Den Hoendrik.
Here are a few sights from the two rounds of the junior competition.
This scene unfolded outside of the schooling ring after the junior rider medal ceremony. FEI Steward Karen Golding had promised Juan Pablo the past 3 years that she was going to give him a haircut if he delivered a medal. His first stop out of the ceremony was Karen’s makeshift barber shop, where she triumphantly got a lock of his hair as a keepsake.
The young rider division had much more drama, and I personally could barely breathe during the final riders’ rounds. The competition was fierce from the start, with one jumping fault separating the extremely talented top eight riders. Lucy Deslauriers entered the day in 5th place, behind Lucas Porter, Maddy Darst, Brittni Raflowitz and Noel Fauntleroy. After posting a clear first round, she moved into 3rd behind Brittni and Noel, who stayed ahead of her with clear rounds of their own. She applied the pressure to them once again in the 2nd round with another clear round. Brittni had a rail down late in her run that allowed Lucy to move ahead of her, with Noel needing five or less faults to win. Noel stayed clear until about 2/3rds of the way through the course before the first rail came down, then on the last jump had a heartbreaking 2nd rail down that dropped her to 3rd and sealed Lucy’s victory. The very smallest of margins separated all these top riders, and the level of competition between them was clearly at its peak on the final day.
Here are scenes from the young rider competition.
Since I put an emphasis on sharing the stories of the junior and amateur show scene on this blog, it was very special for me to cover NAJYRC. The memories riders and their families make at this show will last forever, not to mention all of the hard work, sweat, and tears everyone has put in to get to this point. While some of these young riders will eventually go professional and others will choose not to, a championship like NAJYRC is a personal part of that journey and it’s incredibly moving to witness the emotion in and out of the ring. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have been here. Congratulations to all riders who participated!