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California teams win Gold in dressage, show jumping, eventing

North American Junior & Young Riders Championships showcase the next generation of riders

Special to the Horsetrader - August 6th, 2009 - Show & Event News
Californians Brian Hafner, Amanda Harlan, Christine Stephenson and Brianna Dutton from Zone 7 win the Team Gold medal in dressage at the 2009 FEI North American Junior & Young Riders Championships.

Flashpoint Photography
/ Courtesy of USEF

Californians Brian Hafner, Amanda Harlan, Christine Stephenson and Brianna Dutton from Zone 7 win the Team Gold medal in dressage at the 2009 FEI North American Junior & Young Riders Championships.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The 2009 FEI North American Junior & Young Riders Championships (NAJYRC) welcomed junior and young riders from across the continent to a highly-regarded series of championships, and California teams were among the medal winners. The Golden State’s Zone 7 Young Riders took home the Gold medal in Team Dressage, and the Zone 10 Junior Riders won the Team Show Jumping championship. More Team Gold was won in Eventing by California’s Area 6 riders.

The NAJYRC, the premiere equestrian competition in North America for junior and young riders age 14-21, was held July 22-26 at Kentucky Horse Park. Young equestrians come from the United States, Canada and Mexico to vie for championship titles in the three Olympic equestrian disciplines of show jumping, dressage and eventing, plus the Western-style discipline of reining. The competition is run under rules of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the international governing body for equestrian sport.

Show organizers said the 2009 championships were one of the biggest in the history of the event with an increase in the number of entries, as well as the number of demonstration events having grown substantially. In addition to the higher number of competitors seeking a victory, there were two non-Olympic equestrian disciplines participating with riders taking to the endurance trail and the vaulting arena in non-championship events.

Many of North America’s best equestrians got their start at the NAJYRC including Olympic medalists Greg Best, Karen O’Connor, Chris Kappler and McLain Ward.

California’s Zone 7 Young Riders win Team Dressage

Hafner, part of the Zone 7 Young Rider Team Gold winners in dressage.

USEF photo

Hafner, part of the Zone 7 Young Rider Team Gold winners in dressage.

The dressage Team competition was an exciting test from start to finish, as just over four points separated the Gold-medal team from the Bronze-medal team.

California’s Region 7 took home the first Gold medal of the competition. The team consists of Brian Hafner of and Lombardo LHF, Amanda Harlan and Liberté, Christine Stephenson and Markant, and Brianna Dutton and Tibet, finished with a team total of 198.631. All four riders put in solid tests. More importantly, they all appreciate their team members and how well they have gotten along on the journey to the NAJYRC.

“I got really lucky today,” Hafner said. “My horse was really solid. We had a few minor faults. It is a huge deal for me to be part of this group and do so well as a team.”

Harlan agreed with Hafner, and got the added privilege of experiencing the rain firsthand. “I was very happy with my ride today. I rode in the pouring rain for the first time!” she said. “I’m so happy to be here. It’s been an amazing journey.”

Dutton and Stephenson finished with solid scores, but both were thrilled with their team’s efforts and with receiving the Gold medal. “There were a few more mistakes than usual,” Dutton said. “But, it was nice to ride and get out there. My team is really awesome.”

“I didn’t have the greatest ride today,” Stephenson admitted, but added, “I have the best teammates anyone could ever have. It was just awesome being there and being able to compete.”

The Silver-medal team from Region 2 was made up of Ashlee Todosijevic and Sjoerd, Brittany McCarthy and Gabelle, Kristen N. Becker and Ramses and Kassandra Barteau and GP Raymeister. Region 2 had two riders finish in the top three individually, and had a combined score of 197.315.

The Bronze medal went to Region 3 with a combined score of 194.579. The Region 3 team included Mary-Cameron Rollins on Rose Nior 2, Caroline Roffman on Accent Aigu FRH, Amanda Sterns on Revanche and McKenzie Jenkins on Tsarina Bint RII.

Topping the leader board individually after the first round of dressage was Californian Brian Hafner aboard the Hanoverian Lombardo LHF. Hafner, hailing from Region 7, received an average of 68.842 percent from the five judges. Lombardo has been with Hafner since he was a 4-year-old.

“My horse was really solid today,” Hafner said. “We had a few minor faults. But I am very fortunate to have a great horse. He’s so amazing. He has a great personality, and I am very blessed to have him.”

Hafner and Lombardo LHF led the Region 7 team to the Gold medal, as well as winning Bronze in the Young Rider Individual Test and Silver in the freestyle. Hafner goes go college in San Diego County and trains with Laurie Falvo Doyle.

Kristen N. Becker and Ramses, a flashy KWPN from Region 2, turned in a 67.789 percent to put themselves in second place. Ramses impressed the judges with his flashy gaits and smooth, solid movements to earn a Team Silver medal, as well as put himself and Becker in a solid position for the rest of the competition.

Rounding out the top three is Kassandra Barteau and her GP Raymeister, also from Region 2, with their score of 67.579%. This isn’t the first trip to this competition for Barteau, but it is the first trip to the championships for her partner. Thus far, Barteau is pleased with Raymeister’s performance.

“He was such a good boy!” she said. “I just took it nice and slow, and I didn’t push him. I thought he was really steady. He can get a little flighty, and he didn’t see the (judges’) tents yesterday. But, I was really proud of how he handled that.”

Raymeister, a 9-year-old Holsteiner stallion by Rantares, has been with Barteau since he was just starting out under saddle.

“We’ve been together for four years now,” she said proudly. “I’ve had him since he was doing training and first, and he’s just working his way up to the FEI levels, figuring it all out.”

Many dignitaries were present to show their support, including USEF President David O’Connor, Kentucky Horse Park Director John Nicholson and the President of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein.

After the presentation of the FEI, Mexican and Canadian flags and anthems, it was time for the American flag and anthem to be presented. This was followed by the Lafayette Color Guard and students who performed the Linda Eder song “Gold.”

The dignitaries returned to share their thoughts and encourage the athletes who traveled so far and worked so hard to earn a spot at these amazing championships.

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