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Keenan and Garza Perez Win Jumping Medals at 2013 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North

RELEASE: July 21, 2013
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Jennifer Wood and Brad Ettleman for USEF

Jumping Young Rider Individual  Medalists: Kate Morrison (Zone 5), Bronze; Lillie Keenan (Zone 2), Gold; Charlotte Jacobs (Zone 2), Silver (Sportfot)
Jumping Young Rider Individual Medalists: Kate Morrison (Zone 5), Bronze; Lillie Keenan (Zone 2), Gold; Charlotte Jacobs (Zone 2), Silver (Sportfot)
Lexington, KY
– Saturday's morning competition at the 2013 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North (NAJYRC) featured exciting sport and medal presentations for two disciplines. Individual medals were given in jumping and reining. In the jumping, Lillie Keenan (Zone 2) and Londinium won Young Rider Gold, while Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX) and Bariano received the Junior Gold with no faults throughout the week. The Young Rider Reining Gold medal went to Madison Steed (CAN) and Jumpin Jac Trash, while James Michael Phillips (USA) and Shining Shoes won the Gold in the Junior division. Eventing continued with Cross Country and will conclude competition tomorrow with their final Stadium Jumping phase.

Starting out the day were the Individual Jumping Finals for Juniors and Young Riders. The top 18 riders advanced to the finals in the Young Rider division, and 13 of those came through to the second round. Going into the second round, the top five stood on their faults from the first two days as they all had first round clears. The race really came down to the top three: Kate Morrison (13.70 faults), Lillie Keenan (8.00 faults), and Charlotte Jacobs (7.58 faults).

Morrison (Zone 3) and Windoctro went double clear and received the Bronze medal with 13.70 faults. With another beautiful clear round, Lillie Keenan and Londinium stayed on their eight faults. Charlotte Jacobs and Kachina were having a foot-perfect round until a light rub at the final fence, the skinny horseshoe vertical, rolled the rail out of the cups for a heartbreaking four faults. They would finish on 11.58 faults for the Silver medal.

“It was tough of course,” Jacobs recalled. “She left the ground at the last fence and she's usually such a great vertical jumper. I was like, 'I have it,' and I landed and I heard the crowd and I was like 'Oh my God, I knocked it down.' It was instant shock. I was upset, but Lillie and I were reminiscing the other day and we were here doing Pony Finals together. We've been friends forever, so of course I'm happy for her.”

The Gold medal in the Young Riders went to Keenan, a 16-year-old from New York City, NY. She and Londinium, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Lord Pezi, have been paired together since January.

Keenan expressed, “Charlotte is one of my closest friends and if the roles were reversed I'd be very, very happy for her, as she is for me. It's great to be able to be so close with people when you're neck and neck for medals.”

Regarding the pressure of being one of the top riders coming back today, Keenan replied, “If I start thinking too much about the pressure and the points and what I can do to move up, I make myself crazy. I knew my horse wanted to jump clear every round. I knew I needed to ride better than than I did in the Nations Cup first round. The pressure we both feel, but we try to block it out.”

The riders noted that time allowed was a factor for the competition this week. Keenan thought that it helped her and her horse. “I have a really fast horse. Even in the speed round, I didn't realize I could go that fast. He jumps best out of a gallop,” she said. “When I ride him forward in more of a hunter seat and allow him to jump to the best of his ability, that's really when it goes best. Having a tight time allowed works in my favor.”

Keenan went on to describe Londinium, “We started showing at (the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival) this year and he was a star right away. We got along very, very well. He's a really special horse.”

Jacobs, who is 18 years old and from East Aurora, NY, shared that nerves have been something she has worked on. “I've never been able to deal with pressure, usually I'm very bad with it,” she shared. “Going in last the first round was a lot of pressure. But I took a lot of deep breaths and tried to do the best of my ability, and tried to do the same in the second round.”

Jacobs and Kachina have had a long history together. The 15-year-old Selle Francais mare by Voltaire has been in the Jacobs family since she was six, and used to be ridden by Charlotte's father, Lou Jacobs, in the Amateur Jumpers before Charlotte took over the ride two years ago.

Jacobs said that time allowed was very much on her mind since Kachina is a big horse who spends more time in the air. Jacobs had to think about going forward between the jumps. “We were only .4 points away from each other, so if I had a time fault, I would be Silver. It was land from every jump and just go,” she said.

Jacobs almost didn't make it to the NAJYRC this year since Kachina was injured and she was sixth on the list to attend for Zone 2. After a rider had to drop out, Jacobs got moved up to the alternate spot. She expressed, “I was very lucky in that situation that I was even here. I'm very thankful that she's healthy again and she's here showing. I'm even more thankful that I got a Silver medal.”

Morrison and Windoctro have stepped up this year to the national grand prix level and she was excited to medal in this year's NAJYRC. Morrison is 19 years old and from Dublin, OH. She has been riding Windoctro, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding by Indoctro, since September.

Morrison said she “considers him really special.” She said further, “Anytime he goes into the ring, he gives his all. He's not the easiest. He goes in the ring lagging a little bit and you have to kick him up. Once he's there though, he jumps amazing. He's going to try as hard as I do. I was giving my all and he obviously did too. I was really happy with how he went. He jumped amazing for me.”

Windoctro was at this level when Morrison started riding him and said, “He's given me a lot of confidence. My other High (Amateur Jumper) horse is nervous. Him starting me out in the grand prix has given me a lot confidence with her.”

Zone 2 had another extremely strong showing at NAJYRC this year, and Chef d'Equipe Ralph Caristo commented, “I think the success comes from the support system we have, starting with my wife. Mostly it's the Zone itself and the committees that support us, the parents, the trainers. We have a very good relationship with everybody. They want to do it. I'm very lucky to have them go around. I'm just the cheerleader here. They have trainers and they're the ones who should get all the credit.”

Keenan added, “Being a member of the team, I can say Ralph and Holly are a lot more than cheerleaders. Zone 2 really has an edge having such an amazing support system, but as a group of riders we're really close. Throughout the year, yes we're competing against each other, but we're also thinking ahead. This is really the peak event for the year. We have it in the back of our minds, that we're getting ready for Young Riders. Throughout the year, Ralph and Holly, our trainers and family, we're really aiming for this.”

Along with the medalists in round one, there were clear rounds from Jacqueline Steffens (CAN) on Quercus van Generhese, Hannah von Heidegger (Zone 10) on Geledimar, Wilton Porter (Zone 7) on Radio City, and Mattias Tromp (Zone 2) with Casey. In the second round, Porter had just one time fault, as did Michael Hughes (Zone 2) and Luxina and Chloe Reid (Zone 3) with Victor E.

Five Clears Wins Gold for Garza Perez
Jumping Junior Individual medalists: Sydney Shulman (Zone 1), Bronze; Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX), Gold; Katherine Strauss (Zone 2), Silver (Sportfot)
Jumping Junior Individual medalists: Sydney Shulman (Zone 1), Bronze; Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX), Gold; Katherine Strauss (Zone 2), Silver (Sportfot)

The top 25 Juniors took to the course this morning over a track designed by Steve Stephens of Palmetto, FL. It was challenging with the wide open water going into the morning sun, and the skinny vertical jump shaped like a giant horseshoe that stands almost 13 feet tall.

With an incredible performance of five clear rounds over three days, 16-year-old Eugenio Garza Perez of Mexico and Bariano, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Jetset-D, took the Gold medal in the Junior Jumping Final. Garza Perez is the third rider from Mexico to win an Individual Gold medal in the history of the NAJYRC, joining Manuel Alvarez Ruiz Galindo and Olympian Alberto Michan. In addition to his five clear rounds, Garza Perez added another clear round in the jump-off for the Team competition to help Mexico win the Silver on Thursday.

While Garza Perez is from Monterrey, Mexico, he has lived in Dallas, TX, for two years. He started riding Bariano just over a year ago and said that his first NAJYRC “has been an amazing experience.” He continued, “We've really become a great team. All the coaches, parents, everyone who has backed me up, I feel like I kind of could repay them and show them our hard work has paid off. It's just incredible. We knew we had a strong horse, but never knew we could do this much of a good job. It was awesome that we could keep it going and produce that many clear rounds.”

Garza Perez had a tough task going into the final rounds being tied with three other riders. “We knew that one rail could cost us and we would be out of the medals. I was nervous, I'm not going to lie,” he acknowledged. “I feel like I rise to the occasion when I need to and perform well under pressure. My coaches believed in me and I'm glad I could show them.”

The Silver medal went to 14-year-old Katherine Strauss from Zone 2. She rode Chellando Z, a 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Chellano Z to four faults over the five rounds. Clear through Wednesday and Thursday, Strauss had four faults in today's first round with a foot in the open water, which caused many faults throughout the opening round.

“I was really nervous going into the first round, because it was make it or break it time,” Strauss disclosed. “I could either totally be out of the medals or I could hopefully catch (Eugenio)...but I didn't! I just thought you have to know yourself when you get nervous. My tendency is to go slow and backwards. I knew just to ride faster than I usually would. My parents and trainers are so supportive, and they told me you can't control what everyone else does, so do the best you can and focus on the course and your horse.”

Strauss, who wasn't old enough to be on the Young Rider team this year, hopes to move up and come back to NAJYRC. “I know my horse can do it; I hope I can do it too,” she said.

With a great double clear ride, Sydney Shulman (Zone 1) secured the Bronze medal. The 18-year-old rider from Greenwich, CT, rode Quidam 13, a nine-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding by Bogegardens Quattro. Shulman finished on five faults, which she accrued in the first round of the Team competition.

Shulman explained that having just gotten Quidam 13 in April, she doesn't know him well. “I chose to show as learning experience for both of us,” she mentioned. “I'd never shown him two days in a row, much less two times in one day. It was interesting to see how he held up.”

Of her rounds, she said, “I made a silly mistake the first round on the second day. I thought I had to make up for that, so I was riding a little bit stronger and  a little faster, because I had a time fault. I was pleased with how he was.”

Along with the three medalists, there were three other clear rides in round two: KC Van Aarem (Zone 3) and Mastermind, Juan Pablo Gaspar Albanez (MEX) and Puertas Catena, and Barbara Ruziska (Zone 3) on Victoire VH Dingenshof. Garza Perez and Shulman were the only double clears on the day.

Young Rider Reining Gold to Steed
Reining Young Rider Individual medalists: Jonathan Stepka (USA) - Bronze; Madison Steed (CAN) - Gold; Jamie Erickson (USA) - Silver (Waltenberry)
Reining Young Rider Individual medalists: Jonathan Stepka (USA) - Bronze; Madison Steed (CAN) - Gold; Jamie Erickson (USA) - Silver (Waltenberry)

The 2013 SmartPak Reining Championships concluded today in the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park with two high-scoring rounds of high-level reining.

For the Young Riders, it was the scorching hot score of 219 from Canada’s Madison Steed to secure the Gold medal showing Jumpin Jac Trash (2007 AQHA Gelding). Steed, a veteran of FEI Young Rider competition, showed with great confidence and skill securing a five point lead over the Silver medal score.

Steed said that her pattern felt “really good” in the Individual competition. “I stayed out of the penalty box this time, so I was really happy with it,” she said. “It all goes back to my horse. He doesn't stop; he has so much try in him. He's a cool horse that way. You can push him as hard as you want. I really owe it to him.”

Steed (17, Cochran, AB, CAN) has been riding “Jac” for two years and said he has a huge personality. “Anything within a 10 foot radius is his jurisdiction,” she laughed. “Anything he can get at, he'll chew up and eat. He has the hugest heart you can ask for.”

A Silver medal effort was turned in by Jaime Erickson of the United States riding Rocky Mountain Whiz (2005 AQHA Gelding) to a score of 214. And the Bronze medalist, Jonathan Stepka (16, Little Rock, AR), rode his own Sweet Mega Brown (2004 AQHA Gelding) to secure the final place on the championship podium.

This was only the fifth show that Erickson (18, Keytesville, MO) and Rocky Mountain Whiz have competed in, but Erickson said that lots of practice this summer helped them to the Silver medal performance. “Each time we ride, we're always improving,” she said. “The more we ride, it'll get better and better. There's still more to come out of my horse. It's an honor to be here, and I'm thankful for my horse.”

For Stepka, the air-conditioning in the Alltech Arena certainly helped his horse. “The air-conditioning
plays a major role in warming up your horse,” he explained. “I can feel her energize up and she's ready to go again. I know my horse is going to walk in there and be ready to go all over again.”

Stepka enjoyed representing the United States at the NAJYRC and that with this experience, he hopes that he can continue his riding career to be on senior level teams at such competitions as the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG). “Going overseas to WEG would be absolutely mind-blowing,” he expressed. “To think that I'm a little ole kid from Arkansas and could compete on an international level? It would definitely be an honor.”

Adams Leads CCI2* After Clear Cross Country, Doolittle at Top of CCI1*
Rowdie Adams (Area V) and No Money Down tackle Saturday's CCI2* cross country course (Brant Gamma)
Rowdie Adams (Area V) and No Money Down tackle Saturday's CCI2* cross country course (Brant Gamma)

Rowdie Adams (Area V) and No Money Down had a spectacular cross country ride today and were the only ones to finish with no jumping or time penalties. They remain on their dressage penalties of 50.9 for the lead. In second place is Caroline Martin (Area III) on Quantum Solace, who had two time penalties and stands on 52.2. Jennifer Caras (Area III) and Fernhill Stowaway had 11.6 time penalties for a total of 63.6 and third place before tomorrow's final phase.

With Caras and Martin leading Area III, they remain in first place in the Team competition with 179.5 penalties. Area VII, VIII & IX is in second place on 226.1 penalties. With 265.4 penalties, Area V is in third place.

The standings in the CCI1* are all close for the top four riders, who are within five penalties of each other after finishing cross country with no time or jumping penalties. Leading is Nicole Doolittle (Area III) on Tops with 48.1 penalties. In second is Mary Peabody Camp (Area VII & VIII) with Rave Review on 50.6 penalties. Emily Macauley (Area VII & VIII) and Canadian Exchange are in third place with 50.8 penalties.

Area III moved up to first place after cross country and stand on 157.7 penalties. Area VII & VIII also advanced to second place and have 159.7 penalties. Area II came from fourth place into third and have 187.2 penalties.

The Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North conclude tomorrow with the stadium jumping phase for Eventing, which will determine the Team and Individual medals for CCI1* and CCI2*.

For full results or to learn more about the Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North, please visit www.youngriders.org.

NAJYRC showcases the best young rider and junior horse/rider combinations in dressage, eventing, jumping, reining, and endurance. Young equestrians from across the continent will descend on the Kentucky Horse Park to vie for FEI medals at these Championships.

For sponsorship information visit www.youngriders.org/Sponsors.aspx.

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