Nov 02, 2023

Young Riders Take the Stage At Galway Downs

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

Temecula, Calif.—Nov. 2—Young riders from the U.S. and Canada headed to Galway Downs this week for the 2023 U.S. Equestrian Federation Eventing Young Rider Championships presented by USEA.

Riders from several Areas and Canada are competing for team and individual championships at the CCI1*-L and CCI2*-L level, and there are three individual riders in the CCI3*-L.

Teams consist of three to four riders, with the fourth score serving as a drop score. Dressage finished today, and riders will head out onto Clayton Fredericks' and Alessandra Allen-Shinn's cross-country courses tomorrow.

Sarah Ross and Fernhill Heart Throb. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

Sarah Ross and Fernhill Heart Throb were the first pair to come into the ring this afternoon in the CCI2*-L for the young riders, and they laid down a strong test, scoring a 25.0. That score helped the team from Area VI take the lead in the team competition on 83.3 ahead of Area VII on 95.2.

Ross and her own 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Biscayo x Postara) were not only the top young riders, but the top score of the whole division, which is serving as the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship. In fact, the top 5 riders in the division are all young riders.

“He was excellent,” said Ross. “I feel like the pieces really came together today. We made the trip out from Florida, and we’ve been working over the course of the year on the flat. I was at Kaylawna [Smith-Cook’s] for two weeks before this.”

Originally from Nevada, but calling California her adopted state, Ross bought Fernhill Heart Throb a year ago with help from Bec Braitling.

“He’s pretty incredible,” she said. “He’s a bit quirky, but we love him for that. He’s been nothing but fun to ride and has brought me through the levels. We did our first two-long together. When I bought him, he’d done a two-short. It’s fun to be able to do our firsts together. He’s a real competitor. He goes in there, and it’s like he knows.”

This is also Ross’ first team experience. She’s had fun getting to know her teammates Gabriella Ringer (Get Wild), Lauren Crabtree (Excellence), and Julia Beauchamp Crandon (MGH Capa Vilou).

“You see these people, and yeah, you get to know them here and there, but now being in a team environment with them and getting super close with them is really invaluable—getting to be in the barns with them and seeing how each person does something different, like a different warm up or getting ready. Now I think we’re all going to be closer when we see each other at another California show,” she said.

Molly Duda and Disco Traveler. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photo

Molly Duda (Area VI) is leading the small group of three CCI3*-L young riders on Disco Traveler. Duda scored a 33.5 and is also sitting seventh overall in the division. She and the gelding come into the weekend having won two CCI3*-S events this year.

“Coming here to the championships has been the goal for the entire year,” she said. “We did our first three-long at Rebecca Farm [Kalispell, Montana,] and he was super, so we figured we’d give him a mid-season break and come back and try it again at a new venue. He’s just been amazing since his break. He’s been feeling so fresh and so good. We got to spend the past week training with Tamie [Smith] at her barn down the street, and that was really great. I definitely felt like today we had one of our best tests yet. All of the pieces are finally coming together. Of course, there are always things to improve, but I’m really happy with the direction we’re going.”

She’s owned the 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Donatelli x Cadence) for a year and a half after starting to lease him from her barn first.

“We just really clicked from the start,” she said. “Our styles really line up, and we communicate well. In the past year and a half he’s brought me from Training level all the way to three-star, and he has the biggest heart of any horse I’ve ever known. He always takes care of me, and I just trust him so much.

“I’m grateful to be here to be selected to represent Area VI,” she added. “It’s been a pleasure to get to know the other Area VI riders, and the coaches have been amazing. It’s been a busy week for sure, but in a good way.”

Harper Padgett and Cooley Starship. USEA/Tina Fitch Photography photo

In the CCI1*-L team championship, Area VII dominated. Lizzie Hoff (HSH Best Kept Secret), Caterina Ritson (This Lad Is Gold), Olivia Keye (Chromatic Flyer), and Harper Padgett (Cooley Starship) sit on a score of 94.6 ahead of Area VI (97.5) and Alberta/Ontario Team 1 (119.6).

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