Jul 07, 2024

Mares Make Their Mark On an Exciting Show Jumping Finale at the USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
The winning CCI1*YRC-S teams at the USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photos

Adamstown, Md.—July 7—The USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships wrapped up at the Maryland International with an exciting show jumping finale today.

In the end, three mares topped the individual podiums at the one-, two-, and three-star levels, and in the team competition, clear rounds were not easy to come by over Chris Barnard’s courses, making for a nail-biting finish.

The CCI1*YRC-S was the biggest division of the weekend with four teams vying for the podium. The team from Area II (Berkley Gardner and In Vogue, Sophia Stolley and BWE Stopping Waves, Claire Allen and Crazy Choice, and Leeci Rowsell and Man Of Conviction) won gold on a final total of 109.3.

The team from Area III (Catherine Purcell and Mystic Hazzard, Katelyn Smith and HSH Henry, Ella Hubert and Ardeo Dance Monkey, and Catherine Frank and Bear Linfini) earned silver on a score of 115.9.

The combined team from Area IV and V (Kate Bell and FE Velvet Black, Sylvia Byars and CSF Dassett Decoy, Elizabeth Honeycutt and Duke’s Coverholder, and Adelyn Rinehart and Coronoa Life) won bronze.

Purcell took individual gold on a score of 31.4 ahead of Gardner on 33.8 and Smith on 35.8.

Catherine Purcell and Mystic Hazzard won the CCI1*YRC-S individual title and earned team silver for Area III.

“There are so many people in the stable, whether they’re a groom or a friend or a parent of someone else who are willing to drop anything to come help you if you need help,” said Stolley of the team experience. “It’s just an amazing environment to be in. And all the officials have been really lovely this weekend as well. I’ve had so many conversations with volunteers about the smallest things that just make me smile.”

For the winning team, it was a somewhat of a full circle moment. Gardner did her first event here five years ago and never would have expected she’d be back so soon.

“[Loch Moy Farm] holds a special place in my heart. Coming back here for Young Riders was really special,” she said. “Five years ago I was on a tiny little pony who was blind in one eye, and we were circling after every jump because I was scared to go fast. A lot of times I think back on that show. I got second at that show too, and I was so excited, but there was like five people!”

“I agree with Berkley,” said Allen. “This place is almost full circle [for me.] It was my last event with my horse before he passed away, and last year I did my first FEI here with Berkley. It’s always nice to come back.”

She added that the camaraderie between teams, especially those from Area II, felt like family.

“It’s so nice knowing that everyone is so supportive and has your back,” she said. “I felt like no matter how each day went it was OK because there was no pressure on me. Maryland did an incredible job—all the volunteers, all the stewards were just so lovely. This weekend was just so magical.”

Purcell and her 11-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Mystic Replica x Class Shadow) moved from second after cross-country to the win today on the strength of a clear show jumping round.

“I was really worried she’s going to be tired, and I went in, and I was riding as hard as I could, and she just really helped me out. I felt her rub a couple rails, and was like, ah, dang it, but they didn’t fall down. She was just so good,” she said of the mare she’s had for two years. “She’s not an easy horse, but she’s really the most fantastic horse I’ve ever sat on. I just love her so much.”

Audrey Ogan and Always Cooley earned individual gold and helped their team from Area II to gold.

The standings were shuffled in the CCI2*YRC-S with Audrey Ogan and her own 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare Always Cooley (by Ramiro B) taking individual gold on a score of 33.7. Ogan (Fall Creek, Oregon) helped her Area II team (Rylie Nelson and Galloway Sunrise, Luciana Hackett and As Good As Cash, and Paige Ramsey and MTF Cooley Classic) to gold over the combined team from Areas I, V, and III (Audrey Littlefield and Mr. Pumpkin, Addison Craig and OT Bandini, Chloe Paddack and Hawthornstud Fortunate Love, and Annabelle Sprague and Da Vinci Code).

Canada's Chelsea Lowe and Fernhill Malito Park earned individual silver, and Canada's Saffron Klotz and Ballingowan Clarity earned individual bronze.

Ogan, who’s originally from Oregon but now based on the East Coast, said she’s worked hard to improve her show jumping with coach Lynn Symansky.

“[She’s] really done wonders to help us because this is a tricky phase for my mare,” she said. “I also get a little bit nervous in the show jumping, so as we were walking we talked about the places where I could take a deep breath and really know where I’m going so I can just ride what I feel. It was really incredible to go in there and have my horse feel so good. You never know what horse you’re going to have in show jumping on the last day, and my mare felt incredible.”

She’s had the mare for three years after finding her through Kim Severson and Louis Rogers.

“She’s a really tricky horse,” she said. “She’s the horse that I never really knew I needed. It’s been really fun to figure her out. I’ve been told she’s the horse that I can learn on so that I can win on someone else because she makes me a better rider. It’s really special to be able to come out here and win my first FEI.”

Ogan recently participated in the USEA’s Emerging Athlete U21 clinic (EA21) at Morven Park (Leesburg, Virginia) and said it helped prepare her for the weekend and allowed her to connect with other Young Riders competing across all levels this weekend.

“I got to meet [EA21 coach] Shannon Lilley, who also helped coach some of the girls who didn’t have their coaches here this weekend,” said Ogan. “In the EA21 they talk about the German Training Scale for dressage and just breaking down the basics to understand your riding a bit better, and all information you get helps you in the long run.”

Ogan and her teammates knew each other from riding at the same competitions in Area II, but this weekend they were able to forge a deeper connection and support each other, and that played out especially on the final day when Ramsey was eliminated in show jumping.

“I went in with a plan, and sometimes with horses you don’t always have the day that you want, and that’s OK,” said Ramsey. “I didn’t have the outcome I was planning to have today, but that doesn’t mean I walked away any less proud of the work I had put in this weekend. As always, I absolutely love my horse, and he’s very special to me, so any chance that I have to ride him and spend time with him, I cherish. Even though I didn’t finish on a number, I’m really glad that I got to cheer on my teammates as they came out.”

“Instagram’s good at connecting people!” Ogan added of the team experience. “I know Instagram handles more than I know names. It was really great to get to know each other and do some teambuilding stuff and get to know the people in our Area better.”

Ogan and all of the two-star medal winners agreed that their experience at Loch Moy Farm was extra special.

“It’s such a gorgeous venue, and it’s run so well, and there’s so many volunteers and people that make the show run—it’s really special. It’s a hot weekend, and they did a lot to make sure our horses were sound and happy and safe,” said Ogan.

“Area II did a great job of putting together preparation activities for us, so we got to cheer each other on leading up to it, and it was really special to see everyone go,” said Hackett.

Megane Sauve and Nuance won individual gold for Canada in the CCI3*YRC-S.

The CCI3*YRC-S was a small division to start with, and by today it was down to just four riders across both teams competing.

The team from Area II (Caitlin O’Roark on What the Devil, Maya Clarkson and Clueso, and Megan Loughnane on Flamenco Ping) earned team gold, with just O’Roark and Clarkson jumping after Loughnane was eliminated on cross-country yesterday.

The combined team from Areas I, VII, and IV (Lizzie Hoff and HSH Limited Edition, Elizabeth Gill and Opportunity Knoxx, and Rebecca Roth and Chapter Two) finished with the silver medal. Hoff was the only one to show jump after Roth withdrew her horse before show jumping, and Gill retired on cross-country yesterday.

Even with some disappointment, all the riders were thrilled with their team experience.

“It’s been a great experience to be with old teammates and good friends on our team,” said O’Roark (Centreville, Virginia), who also earned individual bronze. “Our division wasn’t huge, but it was cool how it got quite competitive yesterday, and today I think we were pretty thrilled with our horses’ performance and glad we could keep it all together and not do anything too stupid!”

Clarkson (Santa Cruz, California) had some trouble on cross-country yesterday, but she came away with a lot of good memories in her first Young Riders experience. “It was my first time doing Young Riders and being on a team, so to be on it with two good friends was pretty awesome,” she said. “Yesterday wasn’t perfect, but I’m thrilled to have jumped well today and produced a result for the team.”

“We were all talking earlier about how so much of Young Riders is about the experience and not the end-all be-all, but it’s so good to get the experience and hopefully use it for future experiences,” O’Roark added.

Canada’s Megane Sauve and her own 10-year-old Thoroughbred mare Nuance (Jappura’s Pride x Vaillante) held onto their overnight lead to take individual gold. They had one rail down to finish on 46.9 over silver medalist Hoff on 50.4.

Sauve was last in the order all weekend, so when she came into the ring this morning as the last to go in reverse order, she told herself, “it’s the order of go. I’ll just go and do what I know how to do because that’s all I can control. I can’t control everyone else’s ride. I just put my leg on and rode her.

“I’m just so proud of our partnership this year,” she continued. “It’s our first three-short. It was a big cross-country, and I pushed for it, and she came out and gave me all she had. This morning, she saved my butt a couple of times, like, ‘I got you, Mom; we’re going for it.’ I gave her a good ride after that. I’m just really proud of her. She’s been my best friend for six years, and it’s really fun to get out here and have good results and see the work working.”

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