Fans of dressage were on point and the stakes were high as the Young Riders returned to perform a battle royale in the NAJYRC Dressage Individual Championships.
After battling the rain in the Team competition, the riders now had to deal with the heat as they prepared their horses for the next step in their journey at the 2009 North American Young Riders Championships (NAYRC).
After receiving a 66.474% from the judges in the Team test, Mary-Cameron Rollins and her lovely mare Rose Noir stunned the judges with their second ride to improve their score by nearly four points. The pair finished with a 70.263% to take the Individual Gold medal. Even though the dressage riders had to share the main arena with the CCI* eventers who where completing their own dressage tests, Rose Noir turned in a smooth and energetic performance.
“My horse, not unlike many others, is quite complicated,” Rollins said. “She’s a little spooky, she’s a little hot. She was really on today. I was really proud of her. Even when the crowd was clapping for the eventing side, she kept her head on and did a good job. I was really happy with my pirouettes and some of the half-pass work. I thought the extended walk was exceptional. I just had so much fun. It was a fun, easy ride.”
Rollins added that she really enjoyed the new footing in the main arena that was brought in for the World Equestrian Games taking place in 2010. Although this will be Rollins only trip to Young Riders, she has enjoyed the experience so far, and will complete her experience by riding her freestyle test in the final dressage competition later in the weekend.
Rollins, who is transferring the Florida Atlantic University to be able to work with her trainer Patrick Burssens at IDA Farm in Wellington, purchased the 12-year old Oldenburg mare Rose Noir (by Royal Angelo) in Europe from former Young Rider Kristina Sprehe, who won individual bronze with the mare at the 2006 European Young Riders Championships.
“This experience has been incredible for me. It’s my first and last year to be here at Young Riders, and I couldn’t have imagined it any better. I’ve had so much fun with my team, they’ve been so supportive. We’ve decorated our golf cart, we’ve gone to dinner every night…we’ve done all kinds of things. I can’t imagine a better way to go out of Young Riders.
Taking home the Individual Silver medal was Kristen Becker and the imposing Dutch Warmblood, Ramses. The pair improved their score from Wednesday and received a 68.684% from the judges. This is the second Silver for Becker this week; her team also won the Team Silver medal on Wednesday.
“This whole experience has been great,” she said. “This is my second year as a Young Rider, and I was a Junior three years ago. My horse has been really good the whole time. He’s been really calm, he’s super relaxed. Nothing has phased him. He went in like a champ…it was just like we were riding at home.”
Wednesday’s individual leader, Brian Hafner, dropped to the Individual Bronze medal position today with a score of 67.842%. Lombardo LHF, Hafner’s mount, was bothered by the applause for an eventing rider and lost concentration, resulting in a few small errors throughout the test. Regardless, Hafner has enjoyed his week and is looking forward to riding his freestyle.
“This is also my first and last year doing Young Riders, and coming up with a young horse and finally being able to do Prix St. George this year…it’s just amazing to be at this level and be sitting here right now,” he said. “My weekend is already made here, no matter what we do with the freestyle.”
The biggest improvement in the scores from Wednesday’s ride to today’s came from Laura-Hope Gammell and her mount, I Cestelli. The pair received a 58.474% on Wednesday, but stormed back to turn in a 64.623% today to finish in ninth place.
Tomorrow will feature the Junior Individual medal competition, and the qualifying riders from both divisions will perform their musical freestyles on Sunday.
Photos copyrighted: Mary Phelps/Phelpsphotos.com
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