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LEXINGTON, Ky. — While Olympic equestrians are in pursuit of their golden moments in London at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, some West Coast riders recently returned from the 2012 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) with their own prestigious hardware.

Five disciplines — a total of nine championships for juniors and young riders — took part in the only FEI Championship to be held annually in North America. The NAJYRC, the premier equestrian competition in North America for junior and young riders aged 14-21, took place July 16-22 at Kentucky Horse Park.

Seventeen-year-old Brandi Roenick, who rides under the guidance of Steffen Peters, received the Pursuit of Excellence Fiona Baan Memorial Trophy as dressage rider with the highest combined average in Team, Individual, and Freestyle dressage rides.

In the Young Rider division, Roenick scored her fifth gold medal at the NAJYRC, having won the team gold medal for the past three years for Region 5 and the individual gold in the junior division in 2008. Roenick, who hails from San Diego, rode Weltino’s Magic, a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Jen Hlavacek. Riding for Region 5, Roenick had a total score of 74.947% and Judge’s scores of 75.395% (Judge E), 73.816% (Judge H), 75.132% (Judge C), 73.026% (Judge M), 77.368% (Judge B).

“It hasn’t hit me yet, but I’m still on cloud nine from Wednesday so this is all really amazing,” she said.

Roenick and Weltino’s Magic had only been together for 10 weeks. Weltino’s Magic was the double-gold medalist at the 2011 Pan American Games under her Olympian trainer, Peters.

“We have a really special bond for the short amount of time we’ve been together,” Roenick pointed out. “The way we’ve adapted to each other has been absolutely amazing.”

This was her third year at Young Riders with three different horses.

“The first year, I had my mom’s horse,” she said. “Last year with Pretty Lady, it felt really good coming in on my own horse. This year, coming in on Magic, I was nervous when I got here — but he gave me the ‘It’s okay, I’ll take care of you.’ That’s exactly what he did. I sat there and he floated around and let me guide him. I was very happy.”

In the Young Rider Freestyle competition, Roenick and Weltino’s Magic scored adecisive victory with a 72% comnposite score.

Region 5 took the Young Rider Team Dressage Gold Medal, with Region 7, led by Genay Vaughn and Donarweiss, took the Silver.

Riding for Region 7 in the Junior Rider competition, 17-year-old Ariel Thomas of Briones took the silver medal on Montfleury, a 19-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Grace Goodby. Their scores were 70.132% (Judge E), 68.421% (Judge H), 66.579% (Judge C), 67.237% (Judge M), 67.105% (Judge B) for a total of 67.895%.

“My goal coming here was to ride as well as I could,” said Thomas, who was making her first trip to the NAJYR championships. “Medaling was a goal but it wasn’t expected.”

In the Young Rider Individual Jumping Championship, no one was able to produce a totally clear round. However, one time fault in the first round helped Kilian McGrath of Westlake Village and Salerno to the gold medal. McGrath, 18, had entered the final day’s competition with 15.92 faults and sat in fifth place.

The student of Karen Healey didn’t consider winning the gold medal on the morning of the final day.

“I was hoping I’d make top three at the most,” she said. “I honestly was shocked when they said that I won. I asked Karen if this was real. I’ve only dreamed of getting a gold medal. I never thought it would happen this quickly. I just tried to be as consistent as possible, and it worked out. I’m maybe not as qualified as most riders, but I had a good horse.”

The golden pair have been together just since the beginning of the year. They did their first grand prix this year, which was “a good confidence boost” before coming to NAJYRC.

“He’s one of the most amazing horses I’ve ever ridden,” McGrath said of the 13-year-old KWPN gelding by Indorado x Larena. “He’s really smart, really forgiving and really athletic.”

Zone 10 finished as the bronze medalists with a total score of 35 faults.

Nineteen-year-old Sage Flynn of San Diego, a silver medalist at last year’s NAJYRC, rode Hot Pants, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding, to eight faults in the first round but returned for a single time fault in the second round.

Unfortunately eliminated in both rounds, Stevie Sorenson, 18, of Sonoma, and Esperanto, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding, were still able to celebrate a bronze medal. Riding the 10-year-old SBS mare Semira de Saulieu, 19-year-old Charlotte Gadbois of Newport Beach recorded scores of six and 10 tonight, and the anchor rider, 18-year-old Kilian McGrath of Westlake Village, had scores of five faults in both rounds on Salerno, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding.

NAJYRC showcases the best young rider and junior horse/rider combinations in dressage, eventing, jumping, reining, and endurance. Young equestrians from across the continent will descend on the Kentucky Horse Park to vie for FEI medals at these Championships.

More results: See website http://bit.ly/28A_NT_YR

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