September 2016 - NAJYRC Report: Eventing
Written by Bec Braitling
Thursday, 01 September 2016 05:06
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Influential moments, medals and much more are part of week that was not for the faint of heart.

by Bec Braitling

It’s a funny thing to sit down after a week at NAJYRC and put down on paper a summary of how things went. As with any horse show there was a mix of emotions during the competition, ranging from elation, disappointment, surprise, relief, frustration, exhaustion, pride and, finally, elation, again!

Bec walking the SJ course with riders Mia Farley, Sami Clark and Delaney Vaden (from left to right).

Groom Sophie Tice high-fiving coach Brian Sabo after hearing that the Area Vi team moved into bronze medal position!

What makes it unique for me as chef d’equipe is that I am also competing a lot myself, developing a string of horses. I had just driven my three horses home from a successful show at Rebecca Farm in Montana, hopped on a plane and headed to Colorado.

What stood out the most for me was how used to being in control I am. Sending out our six One-Star riders and one Two-Star rider, representing not only themselves but the coaches, home trainers, team members, family, grooms, Area VI and even myself is very nerve wracking. Everyone reacts to pressure situations differently.

NAJYRC has been a goal for so many of these kids for so long, so the pressure they feel there is unlike anything they’ve ever experienced or fully prepared for. It was amazing to watch some of the girls produce personal best performances and be utterly elated, contrasted by those who were so bitterly disappointed by a performance they weren’t pleased with. The expectation level is so high, the fear of not delivering, so real.

Claire Poch and her mare Carrot Cake.

Area VI riders give Claire Poch a hug.

The first horse inspection was incident free, although we did have one horse make us sweat for a moment. Check off the first minor heart failure... Dressage came and went with a mix of elation and disappointment, but mainly we turned in some seriously well-executed tests. The One-Star team sat in a medal position and we had a good individual medal hope also. Likewise for our Two-Star rider.

Team spirits were high heading into cross-country. I was very jealous and wanted to ride the cross-country myself. Course designer James Atkinson did a wonderful job delivering a rather jumpable but sufficiently questioning course. I walked it thinking how I would ride it, what I would do with my horses, how I would attack it. But, alas, this weekend isn’t about me!

The second serious heart failure moment came when seeing that this course was riding tough. Our first team member picked up a run-out, but finished and looked all class. OK: this is what NAJYRC is about, going out there and trying to do what you do so many times a year: show everyone how good you are. But sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan. Sometimes you miss a line, sometimes you don’t get those rebalancing steps you decided you were definitely going to get on those five course walks you did. Sometimes you just can’t find a rhythm.

Kelsey Holmes & NZB The Chosen One

Sami Clark and Next Dance

Throw in moments of brilliance, well-executed cross-country riding and horsemanship that would make any upper level rider sit up and take notice. Then mix in some serious nerves and the pressure being all too much. We wrapped up cross-country day out of a team and individual medal spot. All I can do is sit there and think of how many FEI level shows I’ve competed at, and how I’ve had a mix of these things happen to me, but this weekend all the things that happen in the show ring were just totally out of my control. It was left on the shoulders of these young kids to make good decisions, not crack under pressure, to step up, to deliver the performance they’ve dreamed of since they learned what NAJYRC was all about.

That’s what the weekend is all about.

Sunday morning delivered another moment every FEI level competitor dreads: jog a perfectly sound horse and get sent to the hold. Wow! Are we for real this weekend?

The pair re-presented and passed easily. By now, our hearts can’t take much more. Headed into show jumping, each rider had her own goals. Some were placed in the top 10 and were focused on moving up, others wanted to turn in the performance they’d been searching for all weekend. Others wanted to cap off the final perfectly executed phase. That they did. The girls delivered some seriously classy rounds, each of the remaining three team members notching up flawless clean rounds. All of a sudden we crawled back into the medals, with the accompanying elation, shock and jumping up and down. And there was also the need to re-braid a horse in 10 minutes for the presentation!

Megan Trayhnam after dressage, getting a hug from teammate Mia Farley.

Mia Farley and Fernhill Fine Diamond

So that was it, in the One-Star we finished 6th, 8th, 19th, 29th and 30th individually and the One-Star team finished in the bronze medal spot. What we really took home was more experiences and moments than anyone can quantify.

Each and every member learned more about themselves and their horses than they can even imagine, they learned about being on a team beyond the one that is you and your horse. They learned new skills and showed off some old ones.

None of this happens without an amazing group of supporters. Firstly, the parents who made this happen: the driving, cleaning, sewing and cooking was crucial. Our amazing group of young grooms, each and every one aspiring to be there soon themselves. The coaches who trained these kids to get here and the team support crew, our Area VI coach Brian Sabo, vets, farriers and coordinators who make the wheels turn.

To say it was an emotional week is perhaps a little cliché, but for anyone who does this sport, being put through the emotional wringer is a weekly experience. NAJYRC is not for the faint of heart, but it sure shows you what you’re capable of, what you want to strive to do better and ultimately tests your resolve.

On to next year! Go Area VI!


Delaney Vaden & RedRox Jazzman happy after a double clean show jumping round!

Author and Area VI chef Bec Braitling is an accomplished competitor and assistant trainer at Gina Miles’ Gold Medal Eventing in San Luis Obispo.

Eventing Medals

Individual Junior
Gold: Carmen Holmes-Smith/Canada
Silver: Haley Rosenberg/Area I
Bronze: Cornelia Dorr/Area I

Individual Young Rider
Gold: Shelby Brost/Alberta, Canada
Silver: Clara Cargile Area V/IX
Bronze: Elena Hengel (Minnesota)

Team Junior
Gold: Area I
Silver: Area III
Bronze: Area VI

Team Young Rider
Gold: Area V/IX
Silver: Ontario/Alberta
Bronze: Area VI/VIII (incl. Area’s VI’s Josey Thompson)