NORTH SALEM, N.Y. — For the 11th time in the history of the event, Zone 2 show jumpers claimed Young Rider team gold in team competition at the Adequan®/FEI North American Youth Championships.
The international affair took place at Old Salem Farm in North Salem, N.Y., Aug. 1 to 5.
On Aug. 3, the team of Samantha Cohen, 16, New York, N.Y., Ailish Cunniffe, 20, South Salem, N.Y., Madison Goetzmann, 17, Skaneateles, N.Y. and Katherine Strauss, 19, New York, N.Y. earned the USHJA North American Young Rider Show Jumping Team Championship, finishing more than 20 points ahead of the Zone 10 team in silver and the Mexican bronze-medal team. In doing so, they secured the United States a spot in the inaugural FEI Youth Nations Cup Final, which will be held in Opglabbeek, Belgium, Sept. 6-9.
"To win a gold medal for this team is definitely incredible because we had such great team spirit and have grown up together," said Goetzmann, who jumped two clean rounds on her own Prestigious, an 11-year-old Westfalian gelding, in the Team Final. "It's such an amazing experience just being here and being able to add this medal to our and Zone 2's list of accomplishments. And we really owe this gold medal to Ralph Caristo, who has been the most incredible chef for so many years for Zone 2. We're all grateful for it."
A new format this year for the Junior and Young Rider divisions at NAYC meant that scores from the Individual Qualifying round carried forward into the two-round Team Final. The Zone 2 team had a slim lead heading into the Team Final. "We all had a good day yesterday, so we came into today on top, but not with too much wiggle room. We all had a great first round, and in the second round they all really took the pressure off me," said Strauss who rode her 13-year-old KWPN gelding, All In to a clear first round and 16 faults in Round 2.
"I'm so fortunate to have the ride on him," Strauss, 19, said. "He's taken me from just getting started in the junior jumpers to jumping some bigger grand prixs. He's really proven himself at the U25 level. He's won at Spruce Meadows, Europe, anywhere he goes. He's a bit of a blood horse, but that's good for championships like this where we ask our horses to jump a lot of rounds."
Cohen jumped to scores of zero and four faults to help Zone 2 to gold. "She's been more than I could ever imagine," she said of Carmen, her 11-year-old KWPN mare. "I started in the junior jumpers with her and we've slowly worked our way up to jump some bigger classes. She's always right there for me and she has the biggest heart and always tries for me. She's really a horse of a lifetime."
Cunniffe also earned gold last year with the Zone 2 NAYC effort riding Baloucento, Elm Rock LLC's 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding "Being on Zone 2 is an honor and I'm lucky to be with these girls; they're some of my best friends," she said. "It means so much to me to not only be able to compete against them, because we do that every week, but also to compete with them on a team; it's an amazing experience."
The individual finale of the Adequan®/FEI North American Youth Championships (NAYC) was held on Aug. 5.
Cohen, 17 added the individual silver to the team gold she’d won with Zone 2 earlier in the week riding her Carmen, an 11-year-old KWPN mare. “Coming into today, I was in fifth and I just wanted to put in two of the best rounds that I could,” Cohen said. “My horse felt great. I had complete confidence in her and I thought she jumped amazing in the first round. In the second round, coming back in second, I knew there were a lot of clear rounds before and I couldn’t have a rail. So, there was some pressure coming in, but I know her so well and trust her so much that I felt confident.”
All three individual medalists, by virtue of their NAYC placing, are qualified to compete on the U.S. Show Jumping Youth Team for the FEI Youth Nations Cup Final in Opglabbeek.
Goetzmann, was fourth and Cunniffe was fifth in the individual final.
Pielet Climbs Back To Gold In Juniors
Alexandra Pielet was the only rider able to keep all the rails up on the final day to take the gold medal of the USHJA North American Junior Show Jumping Individual Championship riding Helene VE. Earlier in the week, Pielet had helped the USHJA Zone 5 team take gold as well.
Pielet lives in Highland Park, Ill., but rides with trainer Andre Dignelli in Katonah, N.Y., so she spends the summers in New York and then commutes back and forth on the weekends during the school year. She is planning to start at Auburn University in Alabama in the fall.
“To be here and to get two golds is something I can’t quite believe has happened,” said Pielet, 17. “It seems like it’s a dream. I wanted to just come and do my best and put in clean rounds, especially for my team. I didn’t want to let any of my team members down. Luckily, I didn’t and I was able to keep jumping clear and it means a lot to win a championship. All the work I did all year paid off.”
The junior team from Zone 2 just missed the podium, finishing fourth by a little more than 5 points.
The team is comprised of Emma Callanan, 13, Lebanon, N.J.; Dagny MacTaggart, 17, Millbrook, N.Y.; Carley McInerney, 16, Randolph, N.J. and Carolina Villanueva, 16, New York, N.Y.
N.J. Rider On Bronze-Winning Dressage Team
In the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) North American Young Rider Dressage Team Championship, Region 1 team of Amanda Perkowski of Cream Ridge, N.J. on Quando Boy (65.55%), her 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Kristin Counterman of Virginia, riding Three Times (65.55%), Dressage4Kids's 18-year-old KWPN gelding, Anna Weniger of North Carolina on Don Derrick (68.23%), Dawn Weniger’s 14-year-old NRPS gelding, and Kayla Kadlubek of Virginia on Perfect Step (68.29%), her 17-year-old Hanoverian gelding, claimed bronze with a team total of 202.08.
The Adequan FEI North American Youth Championships were held two weeks earlier at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana.
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