Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC) hosted the Dutta Corp. Tryon International Three-Day Event November 10-13 at the venue, with the USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships presented by USEA taking place at the CCI1*-L, 2*-L, and 3*-L levels. The Area V and VIII team of Jordan Riske, Janelle Fleming, Samantha Tinney, and Kit Ferguson took the win in the USEF CCI3*-L Eventing Young Rider Championship presented by USEA with a score of 163.2. Riske also finished as the CCI3*-L Young Rider Champion with a score of 45.7 riding her own 10-year-old Thoroughbred mare Redemption Song (Drewman x Orientate), in her first CCI3*-L event. Teammates Janelle Fleming on Edith Rameika’s 17-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Fly Me Courageous (Truluck x Proper Reality) and Samantha Tinney on her 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Cutty Sark took second and third place with scores of 56.7 and 60.8, respectively.
“[Redemption Song] was awesome all weekend. The dressage was probably one of our best tests yet. She was really accurate through everything. She listened really well through everything and when I walked the cross-country course, I thought it looked really doable. There were a lot of the gallop stretches, so I knew it was going to be a good course for her. She felt really in shape and everything rode exactly how I walked it,” Riske recapped. “Everything went to plan and she was awesome. For show jumping, she was really good. She jumped out of her skin for all the jumps and was just so good. I’m so happy with her, and she has been so amazing to me.”
Riske and Redemption Song have built a strong partnership over the last six years, making this win extra special, especially since Riske was absent from the championships last year while battling cancer.
“I got [Redemption Song] six years ago off the track in Indiana, and she’s been my little angel. This time last year, I was sitting in the hospital and going through chemo. So this is really, really exciting to be here with her. The bond that we have together is just so unique. She just trusts me, and I love her. I’m so lucky to have her,” an emotional Riske continued. “This is both of our first CCI3*-L. This event was just so awesome. To be able to say ‘I finally did this and I got to be part of an amazing team and an amazing venue and event’ is just so awesome. I’m so thankful for everything falling into line and making it work.”
The Area II/IV/VI Team comprised Meg Pellegrini (USA) aboard Global Naxos, Sissy Sugarman (USA) riding Carmani, Audrey Ogan (USA) with Revitavet Always Cooley, and Mya Poulos (USA) aboard Cornfire were the champion team in CCI Young Rider 2*-L competition, with Pellegrini also claiming the individual title on a score of 34.7. The team’s winning score was 128.3 points, with Team Canada in reserve (169.8 points) and Team Area VII/VIII (1081.2 points).
Pellegrini and Global Naxos, her own 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Nektos x Komtess IV), improved from third to first over each phase, adding 1.6 time penalties from cross-country to their 33.1 dressage score and producing a double-clear round in Tryon Stadium on Sunday. Alexis Larson (USA) and PL Diamond’s Inspiration, the 10-year-old Thoroughbred mare owned by Malia Larson, took home reserve individual honors with a score of 37.2. Cassandre LeBlanc (CAN) rode Riffel, her own 16-year-old Thoroughbred cross mare (Mountain Boy XX by Jenny), to a bronze medal on a score of 41.6.
“Global Naxus was excellent this weekend,” Pellegrini reported. “I’m so proud of him. We’ve only been together for about a year now, and definitely have had some big ups and downs. Pretty consistently throughout the year, he’s been a struggle for me,” she admitted, “and I’ve never ridden a horse like him before. He’s just such a powerhouse. Anytime he puts his best foot forward, I’m just so incredibly proud. I mean, every single phase this weekend, he tried his guts out in the rain, in the wet outside and on cross-country. It was all a little bit, not new, but just exciting for him.”
Pellegrini hopes her ten-year-old has a bright future ahead of him, and recognized the role that the USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships presented by USEA had in shaping her own future, as well.
“It’s so, so much fun to be around other young riders and compete against them,” she emphasized. “I think all year long, we’re competing against professionals, and it’s sort of nice to just be able to come together as one group. Even just being in the barn aisles together, everyone’s always having a good time. It’s never high-pressure; it’s so lovely. I think the horses appreciate it, too. It’s just a bit of a different atmosphere, and all of it’s going to be good for our futures. And hopefully, a lot of us will get to go on to bigger and better things, and having this experience now is going to definitely shape that for all of us.”
Pellegrini did not have the result she wanted on cross-country last year, and was thrilled to get a second chance at a championship at a venue that makes championships feel “over the top,” she noted. “This venue is incredible. This is my second young rider [championship], and both of them have just felt over the top. The cross-country course is amazing, and the footing held up all day long: I went as one of the last rides of the day and I could barely feel anything [wet]. I just think this is such a special thing for us young riders to get to do. I hope that we can continue on, and that Tryon will hold more of these for us in the future!”
Teammate Sugarman, who piloted Margaret Sugarman’s 14-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding Carmani(Armani x Caracas), agreed. “I think the name of the game was consistency through all three phases, and also it just really helps to have a horse that’s all heart out on cross-country. I’m really proud of him.
“It’s really cool because we’re all three from the West Coast. Meg and I are both California girls, but now we’ve kind of merged out east a little bit. So, we’ve known each other since we were little. It’s fun to reunite, and get to be on a team. It’s really cool that I get to meet other young riders who have the same goals and are striving towards the same things, and then come together in a sport that’s individual. It’s special to get to experience that team format and get to cheer everybody on.”
Teammate Ogan, who was pleased with a “decent weekend” aboard Revitavet Always Cooley, the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (by Ramiro B) owned by Kim Severson, also found the championships a great way to meet other young riders.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to meet other young riders, because I show at all the same shows as everyone else, but I don’t necessarily know everyone, so it’s really great to socialize and meet people.” Ogan concluded, “I love it [Tryon International Equestrian Center]. I think it’s gorgeous, and they maintain it super well. There were people out all day on cross-country yesterday packing the footing back down. And it’s just beautiful here. I love it. And there are so many restaurants, and places to shop – like when I needed to go get bigger studs it was available to go over the tack shop – I love it here!”
Lizzie Hoff and Caroline and Sherry Martin’s HSH Limited Edition found themselves at the top of two podiums this weekend at TIEC: the duo took individual gold in the Young Rider CCI1*-L Division on a score of 32.8 while also anchoring the winning team: Area II/VII claimed first place with a total score of 112 points, including Hoff, Meg Pellegrini (USA) on Cassilio G, her own 7-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cassiliano x Danone I), and Noah Stanlaske (USA) aboard Chesterland, his own 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (by Inn Keeper). Team Area V/VIII earned reserve on a total score of 148.3, while Team Ontario/Quebec earned third with a score of 156.4.
Hoff and the 2015 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Sibon W x Touchdown) led from wire to wire, adding 4.4 points in both show jumping and cross-country to maintain their lead. Pellegrini and Cassilio G climbed the leaderboard to reserve by keeping their dressage score of 33.2 intact all weekend, while bronze honors went to Isabella Novak (USA) and her own Dreamliner, the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Cobra x Glidawn Diamond), for their untouched dressage score of 33.8 points.
“He really exceeded my expectations, and I’m so happy with him,” said Hoff of her young, green mount. “I don’t know him particularly well, so I didn’t really know how he would be in a bigger atmosphere. He just was spectacular the whole time and was a professional, so I just couldn’t be happier with him.”
As a first-time competitor at the Young Rider Championship, Hoff was overjoyed at an unexpected double-podium experience as well as for the growth and learning she found outside the competition ring:
“It was fun for me because we don’t have a lot of opportunities in Area VII to do things like this. I got to meet new people and it was fun, even getting out of my comfort zone and things like that. It was a good experience for me and my horse, I think, to be in a bigger atmosphere and I feel like he’ll come away a better horse from it no matter what,” she concluded. “Obviously, this is a lot better than I thought it was going to be! I just was not expecting this to happen at all. I’m really happy!”
For Pellegrini, the value of being on a team was only amplified by the fact that her teammates hailed from different regions, she shared. “It’s always good for us to come together. I think it’s great that all of us are on a little bit of a scrambled team; we didn’t know each other too well coming into it. For us to be able to come together and do well makes it a little bit more special. I thought it was especially good for my young horse to be here,” she emphasized, “and to see and do all the things, and just be in a bit more of an electric atmosphere. It was great. Everything about the weekend was fantastic.They’ve done a great event, and we’re all very lucky to be here doing what we’re doing.”
“It was definitely a bit of an up-and-down weekend after an up-and-down season,” Stanlaske acknowledged, “and I didn’t have too much of an expectation coming into this. I just wanted to have a good, confidence-building end of the season, stepping down to the one star, and it definitely was. It exceeded my expectations, and I was very happy with how it went. It was really fun. This is my first time doing Young Riders, and first time being on a proper team. It was just a really cool experience to work not only on yourself to do better, but also to help your team out.”
Stnlaske concluded, “I love Tryon. I think it’s a fun venue, and I always like to come here because it is a proper venue, with a big environment. And, it’s fun experiencing that when you’re not at the top of the sport. You still have the opportunity to compete with the top of the sport, at a top venue like this.”
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One of my passions is continuing to be a good student, because I think no matter how old I get, there are multiple reasons learning new things inspires me. First and foremost, it helps me be a better rider and trainer, so my horses benefit. Second, it helps me be a better teacher by exposing me to different ways to have a relationship with a horse or a student.
This month we’re going to begin a three-part series on how to create positive riding experiences by making sure the words you say to yourself and the thoughts you think to yourself are positive. Referred to as self-talk, internal dialogue, or brain babble; the words you say to yourself can have a huge impact on your performance. In fact, your thoughts and voice are actually considered behaviors, and just like how positive physical behaviors (i.e. a balanced transition) can create success, your verbal behaviors can also accomplish the very same thing. So let's spend the next few months talking about how to talk to yourself!
Being spontaneous has paid off for Kevin Keane and Sportsfield Candy. “I bought him on a Wednesday and showed him on a Thursday,” Keane recalls about his first event with his Irish Sport Horse gelding, then 9 years old, at Plantation Field Horse Trials (Unionville, Pennsylvania) in September 2016. “I owned him for part of a day, and the next morning I showed up at a CCI and jogged him up for a two-star, and we went clean and clean and clean.”
THANK YOU to everyone who has already entered the USEF/USEA Recognized CDCTA Spring Horse Trials scheduled for Sunday, April 9 in Berryville, VA. We will continue to take late entries through Friday, March 24 using USEA’s Xentry system. If you still want to come compete, please enter! The late fee has been waived through Friday, March 24.