July 2017 - Meet our USDF Region 7 NAJYRC Riders!
Written by produced by Cassidy Gallman
Saturday, 01 July 2017 18:23
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produced by Cassidy Gallman, California Riding Magazine sales associate and USDF Region 7 JR/YR Coordinator

Chef d’equipe: Alison Burt-Jacobs



Lauren Asher & Hønnerups Event

Lauren lives in the Netherlands from April through November and in Wellington, FL, December through March. She trains with Coby and Marlies van Baalen in the Netherlands and with Oded Shimoni in Florida.

She found her 12-year-old Danish Warmblood mare in Denmark last year and began riding her in January. “She is so sweet and has a fantastic work ethic,” Lauren reports. “Sometimes she tries even a bit too hard. Though we haven’t been partnered together very long, we have already travelled a lot together, competing on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Lauren has nice Championships mileage, having been part of the Junior team in 2014 and the YR team in 2015. “Growing up, NAJYRC was always that one ‘big competition’ that I dreamed of going to,” Lauren explains. “Last year I qualified for the NAJYRC, but competed in Europe in the Nation’s Cup for Young Riders Hagen, Germany, on the American Young Riders team instead.  Competing on the team in Europe was a fantastic experience, but I am really looking forward to being able to compete again at NAJYRC, especially because it is my last year of eligibility. It will be especially nice to be back with riders and friends from California!

“I would like to first thank my parents, as without them and their support, none of this would be possible. Also, my coaches for helping me reach my goals. And, finally, my horses, who are such wonderful teammates!”

Nila Venkat and Skyler Ace.

Nila Venkat & Skyler

A student of Katy Barglow, Nila lives in the Bay Area and has been riding her 16-year-old Trakehner gelding for almost two years. Together, they’ve earned their USDF bronze and silver medals and were on Region 7’s Junior team last year.

“I’ve been targeting the NAJYRC for almost as long as I knew what it was,” Nila says. “I grew up as always being one of the youngest riders at a barn, and so I looked up to the older riders as my role models. Watching them improve and qualify for large competitions like NAJYRC inspired me and I strove to reach the same level. For me, it’s just the next step in improving myself as a rider.”

Last year’s Championships were Nila’s first CDI. “To go from showing at familiar facilities in the region to an international competition several states away was certainly a culture shock for me,” she shares. “Luckily, Skyler prefers the busy show situations to the calm of home and I had a fantastic team that helped me along the way.  This year, I will hopefully be more comfortable with the large competitive environment, and though there will still be unfamiliar aspects, I can’t wait to learn from the experience.”

As to inspirations, California-based Canadian Olympic eventer Hawley Bennett is high on Nila’s list. “I heard her speak at a USPC annual meeting and I was inspired by her story. Like her, my family doesn’t have a riding background, nor could we afford the most expensive equipment or fanciest horses. Hawley talked about relying on hard work and work ethics and being grateful for the people who help you along the way.  The message really resonated with me.”

Biggest thanks go to “my mom. She has been my biggest supporter during this qualifying period and throughout my riding career. From spoiling Skyler with treats to putting up with the back-to-back-to-back show weekends to qualify for Young Riders, she has been an inspiration and I’m incredibly thankful for all she’s done for me.”

Veronica West and Nobleman.

Veronica West & Nobleman

A student of Mette Rosencrantz, Veronica is another returning Championship rider and so is her well-seasoned partner of three-plus years. She describes the 18-year-old Hanoverian as a schoolmaster whose past Grand Prix successes and experience have made him a “kind, patient, excellent partner that I am incredibly lucky to have.”

In 2015, they were part of the silver medal winning Junior team for Region 7 and they qualified again last year but were sidelined by an injury. She loves the competition for many reasons. “It is one of the few times when dressage becomes a team sport and riders from all over the country are brought together,” Veronica explains. “It fits into my larger goals of one day representing the U.S. in international competitions such as Nations Cup events. In the next few years, I hope to gain more experience as a Young Rider and progress to the U25 division.”

The Championships are an experience “like no other” and hard to describe until experienced first hand. “Although my training approach won’t change, this time around I know what to expect and how to manage my time between all the aspects of a normal competition and the unique team activities NAJYRC offers.”

Among many inspirations, Veronica cites Mette as the biggest. “While we always read about the success stories of the most decorated Olympians, we don’t always hear about the amazing riders who have achieved success of their own. Being able to travel with Mette to competitions and see her teach and ride on a daily basis has really opened my eyes to the amazing person and athlete that she is.  She is a huge inspiration to me because I have seen her unwavering commitment, dedication, toughness and grit for the sport, attributes I greatly admire and hope to always maintain.  It’s wonderful to see all the success she has achieved in the past year. It really does show that hard work and dedication pay off!”

Along with Mette, Veronica’s parents get the lion’s share of her thanks. “They have always supported me in my equestrian endeavors and allowed me to follow my dreams.”


Aleyna Dunn and Bivera.

Aleyna Dunn & Bivera

A student of Christine Traurig’s, the Rancho Santa Fe rider is a newbie to competing at the Championships, but she did groom last year. “NAJYRC is definitely one of the bigger goals for my riding career because I believe that it will really prepare me for many of the big shows I hope to be a part of in the future,” Aleyna says. “I have been targeting NAJYRC since I was around 10 years old. The second I found out about this show, I aspired to one day participate in it.”

Her partner is an 11 year old KWPN, who she’s owned for a little over a year. “But I feel like I have known her for a lifetime.”

“I would like to give a huge thank you to my trainer, Christine, for everything she has done for me and my horse. Christine has put forth so much time and effort in to coaching Bivera and me to be the best we possibly can. She is the most supportive, charismatic, and inspirational trainer who genuinely cares for each and every horse and rider she coaches. I am honored to be able to call such a remarkable woman my trainer, and I will forever be grateful for all that she has done.

“I also want to thank my mom who is the whole reason I am able to participate in this sport. She has spent countless hours supporting and cheering for me at every single event, as well waking up at the crack of dawn to drive me to and from the barn and all the shows. She has taught me many valuable lessons, and has been there every step of the way in my dressage career. My mom is my mentor, my inspiration, and my best friend. She is the reason I am able to live my dream, and I will always be thankful for all that she has done.”


Ava Dingley & Fürst von der Heide

Ava is another rider competing in her first Championships after grooming last year. She is a student of Jan Ebeling’s at The Acres in Moorpark and has had her 8-year-old Hanoverian for one year. She’s excited because she sees it as “the starting point of true competition for me, because I hope to continue on to do Young Riders and move up the levels into U25,” Ava explains. “Then, as my dream has always been since I was very little, go to the Olympics and World Cup.  I’ve been targeting NAJYRC since last year when I really got a clear idea of what it all really is when I went as a groom.”

Coach Jan is the pro who most inspires Ava. ‘Of course!” But she emulates several others, “mostly because of their stories and how they got to where they are now, considering everyone has a truly unique and amazing story.” Laura Graves, Ann Romney, Robert Dover and, in jumping, Francie Steinwedell-Carvin and Dick Carvin are on that list. The hunter/jumper power couple are family friends.

“I’d like to give a huge thanks to my parents, Susan James and Fulton Dingley, who have always supported me through everything and I can’t thank them enough.  Also, my prior trainers, who have really contributed to shaping me into the rider I am today. They are April Atwell and Angie Grove.”

Ben Ebeling and Behlinger. Photo: Terri Miller

Ben Ebeling & Behlinger

The son of Olympian Jan Ebeling, Ben went to NAJYRC last year where he contributed to the team in every way but actually riding. Sadly, his mount that year did not pass the jog, so he chipped in in every other way, earning the Andrew B Szinay Sportsmanship honor in the process.

This year’s mount became a partner this past January. The 9-year-old Hanoverian’s barn name is “Bugatti” and “Even though we have only had a short partnership, I really feel that we have become so in synch,” Ben says.
The Championships are a perfect fit for Ben’s goal of learning to train a horse up to Grand Prix. Along with his parents, Jan and Amy Ebeling, Ingrid Klimke is a role model. “Like her, I would like to compete at very high level dressage and jumping,” says Ben. “Watching her top dressage horses being able to jump fences is truly inspiring and I would like to be able to do that.”

Ben’s list of thank yous is topped by Bugatti’s owners: Elizabeth Meyer, Ann Romney and, “my wonderful mother,” Amy Ebeling. “I would like to thank County Saddlery for providing me with an amazing saddle that I highly recommend to everyone.”


Christian Simonson & Herzkönig

Championships returnee Christian is another student of Jan Ebeling’s and will be riding his 13-year-old Hanoverian that he’s had for two years. He finished fifth individually for the team last year and sees the competition as a great stepping stone to eventual Olympic goals.

“Last year’s competition taught me about the nature of sport, how to compete at Championship level and how to acclimate my horse to a Championship environment.  I am competing this year with a better idea of what to expect from my horse and myself.”

Jan is Christian’s biggest inspiration. “He inspires me daily to be a better rider, to challenge myself and to be persistent.” And his folks top the gratitude list. “They’ve helped me through every step of my journey with this crazy sport,” he says. “They make this happen from the daily drives to the barn to the weekends away. I love you.”