It’s hard not to get emotional and be excited for Area VIII who just rose to the occasion to claim team gold in the 2019 Adequan North American Youth Championships (NAYC) in the CCIJ2*-L. Watching their team supporting each other, their coaches and Chef d’Equipe’s shedding tears of joy, and the endless hugs and high-fives all around, one cannot help but to be filled with joy just by being in their presence. The huge smiles say it all. This team not only came to win, but to enjoy a week filled of teamwork, support, and to build everlasting friendships.
“You’re here to compete and do your job, but you’re also here to have fun,” said Elizabeth Henry while wrapping up her weekend at The Event at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Mont. Henry’s 11-year-old Warmblood mare, Charlotte La Bouff was named after a Disney princess, and Henry described that it suits the mare’s personality perfectly. “We’re a little bit like sisters. Sometimes she hates me, but I’d take a bullet for her any day,” Henry said of the mare.
“I was so proud of my team – they’re just amazing,” Henry said after ending the weekend on her dressage score of 24.9 to claim the individual silver medal on top of her team gold.
“I think the gray horses were part of our secret to success,” joked Gracie Elliott, after previously discussing how the team experiences great bonding time while bathing their four gray horses before dawn each morning. Elliott finished her weekend on a 33.7, adding just 0.4 penalties to her dressage score with her own 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, Ballylanders Finn McCool. “This has been an unreal experience and I’m so thankful. I’m also so thankful to the Broussards for hosting it, to our Chef Maxine, to our Coordinator Shelley, and of course to our parents.”
Cierra Daratony piloted Rio de Janeiro (River Dancer x Vanilla Ice) to a clear round, finishing on a 32.0 for Area VIII. “As soon as we jumped the first jump, I knew it was going to be great. He was amazing,” she stated of her 10-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred gelding.
“I was so nervous going in,” team member Tate Northrop. “We usually have a rail or two, but I was so proud of him,” she stated of her own 16-year-old Thoroughbred, Fine With Me (With Approval x Alycheer). “I was not expecting just one rail,” she said of her show jumping round after adding just 4.0 points to her overnight score. “It’s just so fun to see everyone come together and spread all the joy,” she said of her week with Area VIII.
The Area VIII team also described how they formed a friendship with another rider on a gray horse, stating that “Sam Tinney is like the fifth member of our team, and we love doing everything with her.” Elliott stated that Tinney spent much time with them at Young Rider camp, and that, “ that’s the beauty of Young Riders - even though she’s from a different state and Area, we bonded over the sport, and we’re able to come together and support one another. It’s been a great experience.”
The Area VIII team concluded the weekend with a total combined score of 90.6, a whopping 13.6 points ahead of silver medal team, Area II. Area IV took home the team bronze medal on a cumulative score of 109.2.
As for individual standings in the CCIJ2*-L competition, Charlotte Babbitt from Area VI led from beginning to end with 2 A.M. (Shraton x Regina K). “He’s such a good boy, and he’s always wanting to please,” Babbitt said of her 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood. “He’s like the horse version of me and he’s my best friend.” The pair added no penalties to their dressage score all weekend, and finished the competition on an impressive 24.0.
“I love being at Rebecca Farm – it’s so amazing,” stated Babbitt. “It’s a big atmosphere and I think the horses learn a lot here and it puts a lot of pressure on the riders. It’s a great place to be to learn to be in an atmosphere, and it is so much fun – the most fun you’ll have at a horse show,” she added about the event. “I think he was watching over me, and I think a big part of that was why I had a clear round.,” Babbitt said with tears in her eyes while talking about Don Trotter, who’s recent passing rocked the eventing community, and had a deep effect on Babbitt as she called him “one of her biggest mentors.”
Just behind Babbitt and Henry, Benjamin Noonan took the individual silver medal on a 27.0 with Keep Kitty (King Julio x Emelie). “I’m forever in debt to my horse,” Noonan said of his 8-year-old Hanoverian mare. “She’s great, and I was really happy to jump such a good jumping horse,” he added.
“I can’t thank the Broussards enough for allowing us to ride here. Young Riders is one of the best experiences of my life,” Noonan concluded.
The USEA would also like to thank the Broussard family for their generosity in hosting the Adequan North American Youth Championships for the third consecutive year. It has been an incredible experience for countless competitors, owners, volunteers, spectators and fans of the sport.
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