Each of the United States Region 4 dressage team riders was competing in their first team championship as the team claimed gold in the Junior division at the 2019 North American Youth Championships (NAYC) at Old Salem Farm in North Salem, NY.
The Region 4 riders posted a combined score of 203.18 to take the gold over the U.S. Region 2 team, which earned silver with a combined score of 202.63, and the U.S. Region 9 team, which collected a combined score of 199.63 for the bronze medal on the first day of NAYC competition on July 31. Last year, the Region 4 Junior team claimed silver in the same event, but this was the first NAYC gold medal for a Region 4 dressage team.
Nicolas Beck, 15, posted the high score for Region 4 (70.27%) riding his own Campari, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding. “I was really happy with my horse, especially in the canter,” said Beck, from Chanhassen, Minn. “I couldn’t be prouder of how calm and steady he was able to be. He was relaxed, and he kind of helped to calm me down.”
Beck rode as the anchor for the Region 4 team. Of his first experience at a team championship, he said: “I’m hoping to stay with horses and be a trainer. Coming here was an awesome learning experience, seeing what it’s like to be under bigger lights and at a bigger show. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Hannah Thiher, 17, from Maple Grove, Minn., was the first to go for Region 4 and posted a score of 66.72% to put the team ahead from the start of the competition riding Delfiano, a 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Terri Thiher. Thiher was a late substitution onto the team, getting the call to compete just days before the NAYC start. “I’m incredibly grateful to be here,” she said. “It was kind of last-minute, so my mom did a ton of work to get us here. I have a wonderful horse and my test went very well. It’s my first time competing in anything like this, and it’s cool to have the support of a team.”
Many of the horses competing in the NAYC dressage are in their teens, but Averi Allen rode Jonni Allen’s Superman, just six years old, on the gold medal-winning Region 4 team, scoring a 66.18% for the team. “My horse tried his best,” said Allen, 15, from Pleasant Hill, Mo. “He hasn’t really been doing changes very long, so I thought he did very well. I’m really happy with it. Having the support of the team, having everyone there cheering for you, was amazing.”
Maggie Elsbernd, 16, rode her own Zeestar Texel, a 15-year-old KWPN gelding, to a score of 65.30% for Region 4. “I thought my ride today had a lot of mistakes, but I’m really happy with the score,” said Elsbernd, of Excelsior, Minn. “My horse tried his best. It’s just really incredible to be here. It’s such a cool experience. My team is amazing; we all worked so hard to get here. It’s such a learning experience to be here.”
The U.S. Region 2 team of Maggie Tifft riding her own E-Ros, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding (63.03%); Katie Teehan on her Zinca, a 15-year-old mare (64.78%); Missy McGinn on Felissirana, a nine-year-old KWPN mare owned by Alise Carrico (67.21%); and Annelise Klepper riding Shannon Klepper’s Happy Texas Moonlight, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (70.63%), claimed the silver medal.
The bronze medal went to the U.S. Region 9 team (all also riding for the first time at NAYC) of Sydney Lipar riding Melany Lipar’s Sandroletto, a 14-year-old gelding (64.66%); Gage Miles on Michele Miles’ Castillier, a 17-year-old Hanoverian mare (66.51%); Skye Simpson riding her own Dazzle, a seven-year-old Oldenburg mare (66.36%); and Emma Claire Stephens on her own De Nouvelle Vie, an 11-year-old gelding (66.75%).
Canadian athletes tackled the first dressage obstacle of the 2019 North American Youth Championships (NAYC) and reached a fifth team place as their best achievement. Team Quebec/Nova Scotia pushed through the day’s heat and humidity to deliver consistent performances from teammates, Ariel Boesener of Canning, NS, Chloe Vandenplas of Sherrington, QC, Marilie Roy of Outremont, QC, and Lily-Rose Lemaire of Drummondville, QC, to end in fifth place on a total score of 195.424.
Canada was also represented by Team Ontario, which finished in eighth place after the unfortunate elimination of Amanda Law, 17, of Whitby, ON, and Addiction (Flyinge Amiral x Head of River), Stephanie Jensen’s 20-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding. This left all three scores to count for the remaining members of Junior Team Ontario: 15-year-olds, Anna Swackhammer of Rockwood, ON, and Kiara Williams-Brown, 15, of Navan, ON, and Logan Iwanoff, 18, of Ottawa, ON.
Photos © Meg McGuire
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