September 2017 - Eye on Eventing
Written by Lauren Billys
Thursday, 31 August 2017 20:22

North American Young Riders
Championships are golden in medals and other ways for Area VI teams.

by Lauren Billys

With the backdrop of Glacier National Park on the most pristine eventing facility on the West Coast, Rebecca Farms in Montana, the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships for 2017 was undoubtedly going to be one to remember. The Area VI Young Rider team was mostly made up of horses with unique stories produced by juniors to the FEI levels of eventing. The bonds between these horses and riders were strong and palpable watching each of their performances.

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A couple of unique partnerships can be highlighted in riders like Mallory Hogan, who started riding Clarissa Purrisima as a 5-year-old and produced her from the Beginning level of eventing to the One Star level and to now compete at the championships. Uniquely, Madison Temkin’s horse, Kingslee, was owned by Geriann Henderson, who produced Kingslee as a young horse through the Advanced level. After leasing Kingslee to Madison, Geriann tragically passed away in a freak sky diving accident. Geriann’s legacy lives on through every performance Madison and Kingslee make on the international stage. It was powerful pairs like these that made up an inspiring team for Area VI team for 2017.

On dressage day, each rider carefully prepared their horses to compete the tests they had practiced. Every pair laid down a respectable test that mirrored their qualifying scores. This spoke volumes to their mental strength. I was impressed to see each rider do their tests without mistakes and be proud of their performances.

Our cumulative team score for our Two Star and One Star teams placed them each in the middle of the pack, within striking distance by the final day of competition.

Throughout the weekend, our riders rode and performed in a way that I truly admired. They all lived in the moment. Riding their best in each opportunity they were given. Each rider and groom’s strength and excitement added to make a team that was harmoniously supportive. So when it came to cross-country day, the team truly shined. Every single rider laid it all out on the course. The team kept their heads down and worked all the way to the end of their course supporting each other and showing the true value of teamwork by their presence in warm-up, at the finish flags, cool down, and after care. They truly gave their all to lead to seven clear rounds out of seven rounds total! It was truly amazing!

When it came to the final day of show jumping, the One Star team was in fourth place position and the Two Star team was competing for individual medals. It was exciting until the end. Each Area VI rider put in respectful rounds and the riders slowly climbed their way up the ladder. Every round counted, our individual riders and team riders helped the morale of Area VI swell. The final four rounds proceeded and it was within those final rounds that the Area VI One Star team clinched the gold medal and Mallory Hogan took the CCI* bronze medal. Likewise in the Two Star class, our Two Star riders put in equally respectful rounds that helped them finish in the top placings in their class.

I feel so thankful to have been able to support this team in 2017. Thank you so much to our sponsors, coach Bec Braitling, our grooms, and the parents who stepped up in a big way to make this possible. It is hard to articulate the pressure and feeling of competing at a championship, but it can be surmounted in all the moments of practice, each person who has called, texted, and organized the ins and outs of competition. Watching our riders rise under these circumstances made the moment so sweet. Looking forward to 2018, but in the meantime we are cherishing the moment.


Columnist Lauren Billys contested the 2016 Olympics in Rio, on behalf of Puerto Rico, and has written about that remarkable experience for us since early 2016. She continues to compete and is accepting students and horses at Lauren Billys Eventing on the Monterey Peninsula. Visit www.laurenbillys.com for more info.