FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lexington, KY- The first of four USHJA Children's and Adult Amateur Jumper Regional Championships debuted this past weekend to huge success at the Atlanta Summer Classics II held at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, GA. The USHJA South Regional Championships saw some of the best team and individual talents within Zones 3 and 4 go head to head for the coveted podium positions - Gold, Silver and Bronze.
The championship format and team concept were something very new for the competitors, but as Co-Chair of the South Regional Championship Committee Kim Land explained, "I feel that the Children's and Adult Amateur Regional Championships are important because it teaches a true championship format, a five-round event that is modeled after the North American Junior & Young Riders Championships. Most people were confused, at first, about how a team event worked, but this event is about education and fun. Riding on a team introduces new and different pressure; your teammates are depending on you. Also, most are not accustomed to cumulative scoring. In this event, your faults add up over the five rounds so winning an individual medal is a completely different type of accomplishment than winning one class. The winners were consistent in five rounds over three days. This is very tough and the winners should feel quite proud."
39 horses passed their inspection and were ready to go in Thursday's opening round of team competition. Taylor Land, a member of the 2011 Gold Medal Team at the North American Junior Young Riders Championships was the Chef d'Equipe for the Georgia Children's Team, "I had so much fun getting to know the kids on my team and I think this championship is a really exciting new development for up and coming jumper riders. It's a great introduction to championship format competitions and will really help prepare them for NAJYRC and Prix des States."
Six teams in the Children's Jumpers representing eight states took on the technical challenges created by Olympic course designer Steve Stephens. All team members put their best hoof forward to earn a podium spot and when the scores tallied up it was Team Florida I with Chef d'Equipe Tinker Tindley capturing the Gold medal. The team riders included Natalie Hughes, Morgan Gravely, Maaike Bentzon and Lauren Zavodney. The Silver medal was awarded to the combined Team of Virginia, South Carolina and Alabama which included riders Annie Bolling, Crawford Anderson, Caroline Ford and Michael Mahoney with Chef d'Equipes J. Michael Halblieb and Ann Thal at the helm. The Bronze medal was presented to the combined Team of North Carolina and Maryland with Tracy Magness and Liz Hodges sharing Chef d'Equipe duties of riders Victoria Hoft, Gabby Hensley, Kimberle Paige Burton and Nikki Prokopchak.
The Adult Amateurs had four talented teams and produced some fierce competition for the spectators over another course designed by Steve Stephens. When the dust settled and scores came in, it was Chef d'Equipe Tracy Magness' Team Maryland members Wendy Libert, Cathleen Driscoll, Ericka Caslin and Kellie Regan with the golden performance of the competition. The Silver went to Team South Carolina with Chef d'Equipe Ann Thal and riders Heather Crespo, Elizabeth Porath, Lynn Seithel and Tracy Slaughter. The Bronze medal was awarded to Team Florida members Rachel Williams, Sarah Pauels, Andrea Randell and Cynthia Screnci along with Chef d'Equipe Tinker Tindley.
Going into the individual rounds the competition was just as fierce. The Children's section boasted 23 in the starting field. By the final round six riders found themselves in a jump off for the Bronze medal, while two riders battled for the Gold. Michael Mahoney of Haymarket, VA and Gabby Hensley of Clarksburg, MD were both perched to grab the gold, but a dropped rail for each made time on the clock the deciding factor. Mahoney partnered with Remonta Haron clinched the top spot on the podium; Hensley accepted the Silver and Nanny McFadden of Germantown, TN was awarded the Bronze medal.
"Riding in the Olympic stadium, competing under Nations Cup format, and being part of a team were all firsts for me, and they combined to create a really unbelievable experience; the championships provide a really unique opportunity for people competing at this height. Winning the championships in the Olympic stadium after five rounds was a really special moment I'll always remember." Mahoney shared.
Included in the bevy of prizes awarded Mahoney was one that especially excited this young rider, a spot in an USHJA Emerging Athletes Program 2014 Regional Clinic of his choice. Each of the individual children's gold medalists from the remaining three regional championships will be presented with this same opportunity.
Not to be outdone, the 16 Adult Amateurs competing for individual honors went head to head in each round. Ericka Caslin had solid rides throughout the three days of competition, and in the last round found herself winning a three way jump off for the Bronze medal. Heather Crespo of Aiken, SC came into the final round ahead in the standings with only six faults, but picked up four additional faults for a total of 10 faults overall and the Silver medal position. Monticello, FL resident Andrea Randell may be almost 20 years senior to her competitors, and used the determination and skill that comes with experience and maturity to her advantage to claim the gold medal.
Co-Chair of the South Regional Championship Committee, Oliver Kennedy said of the competition, "I am very pleased with the response to the first of the USHJA Regional Championships; it was a very quick turnaround to organize the South Regional Championships and also to promote this new event and format to the Children's and Adult riders. Bob Bell and his team at the Classic Company did a great job in producing the event along with the guidance from the South Regional Championship Committee and my Co-Chair Kim Land."
USHJA thanks the generous sponsors and supporters of the South Regional Championships who made this inaugural event such as success:
Fenwick Equestrian Products - Awards Cooler Sponsor for the 2013 USHJA Children's/Adult
ARK Partners, LLC
Bob Bell & Classic Company
Johnson Horse Transportation
Maryland Horse Shows Association
North Carolina Hunter and Jumper Association
USHJA Children's and Adult Jumper Task Force
USHJA Jumper Working Group
USHJA Zone 3 Jumper Committee
USHJA Zone 4 Jumper Committee
Virginia Horse Shows Association
The next Regional Championship will begin July 24 for the Central Region at the GO Show in Oklahoma City, OK. For additional information on the USHJA Children's and Adult Amateur Jumper Regional Championships visit our website and questions may be directed to Meghan Carney via email or by calling (859) 225-6721.