Steed and Phillips Earn Reining Gold at NAJYRC

RELEASE: July 21, 2013

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)
Lexington, KY
- The 2013 SmartPak Reining Championships concluded Saturday 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.”

Claiming top prize and top honors in the Junior championship, James Michael Phillips riding Shining Shoes (1995 AQHA Gelding) turned a gold medal effort to win the top podium position. Crediting his 18-year-old horse for wisdom and experience, Phillips rode as the final draw in the class to a 217 score, punctuating the win with a full six and a half point difference above the next placing rider.

This is Phillips' (14, Hartsch, OK) first time competing at the NAJYRC and said that today's Individual competition was a different ball game from the Team class. “In the Team competition, if you messed up, someone could come in and pull you out. In the Individual, it's all on you if you mess up. I did improve a lot on the pattern (from Thursday), and it got better and better as I went on with the pattern today.”

Phillips has been riding Shining Shoes for four years. “He's real loving and he tries hard and loves his job. He never wants to cheat you on anything,” he described.

He said of his Gold medal experience, “To get to stand on the podium with the flag being raised and hear the anthem is amazing.”

Silver medalist Emily Wilson (16, Oxbridge, ON) carried on the tradition of medals for the Canadian family, all of whom have shown the same Miss Cielo Chex (2002 AQHA Mare) all the way to the podium. Marking a score of 211.5, Wilson led the competition as the one to beat all the way up to the final round. “It was tough competition down here,” Wilson said. “I want to try and get on another team. I'll definitely come back again next year and try.”

In Bronze, Maxine Whiteside was aboard Sailors Good Sackett (1996 AQHA Gelding) and rode to a score of 207. Whiteside (14, Olds, AB) has been riding Sailors Good Sackett for two years and it was her godmother who got her into reining. “I'd like to try and get on another (NAJYRC) team, but I might try to get another horse,” she said. “He's done his best for me.”

Known throughout the world as the epicenter for the sport of reining, North America presented the world’s most elite Junior and Young Riders at these Championships, providing exciting and high quality competitions. Organizers look forward to a strong future and continued growth in FEI Reining programs in Canada, Mexico, and the United States.