Endurance headlines the third day of North American Junior Young Rider Championship competition in Kentucky
July 21, 2012
At 6:30 on Friday morning, a set of intrepid horses and riders set off on a 75-mile ride from base camp at the Kentucky Horse Park. The day started cloudy and cool, favorable conditions for the race, which is made up of five loops through the park and surrounding farms.
Although it is one of the most popular equestrian sports worldwide, endurance is still growing in North America. But with the group of seasoned young equestrians participating in this year’s competition, the future of the sport here is bright.
Four teams started the day, plus two individual riders for a total of 17 competitors. Riders represented three U.S. regions: Southeast, Central, and a combined team comprised of riders from other regions. Canada sent a single team of three riders. Mexico and Guatemala sent one rider each.
In order to qualify for a team medal, three riders must complete the race and have their horses pass the final vet check. This put the team from Canada at a disadvantage as they only had three riders instead of the four that each U.S. regional team had. However, by the end of the day, Canada was the only team to still have three riders in contention. The team cantered to the finish line together victoriously, with only the final check standing between them and team gold.
On the individual side, Katherine Gardner came through the finish line first and headed to the vet check. When her horse, AF Big Bucks, passed the final inspection, cheers erupted from Garnder’s U.S. combined teammates. USEF Youth Equestrian of the Year Kelsey Kimbler rode Fringant to a silver medal finish.
The medal ceremony for the endurance riders will be held on Saturday.
Partial, unofficial order of finish:
1. Katherine Gardner - Big Bucks (owner Pam Weidel)
2. Kelsey Kimbler - Fringant
3. Sondra Roberts (Southeast) - CA Classy Marina
4. Mallory Capps
5. Emma Webb (Ontario)
6. Lee Hutton (Ontario)
7. Jessica Yavis (Alberta)
CANADA - Team Gold