Kronenberg, the Netherlands – Sept. 29, 2022 – The U.S. Young Rider and Junior Teams stepped onto the world stage at the 2022 FEI Jumping Nations Cup Youth Final in Kronenberg, the Netherlands, from September 20-25. The youth athletes gained valuable experience competing alongside their peers from around the globe. The teams competed in Nations Cup-style classes, offering educational opportunities while being guided by Chef d’Equipe Anne Kursinski.
“It’s an unbelievable experience for the riders. They really need it if they want to get on three-star teams and eventually five-star and big championship teams. We had some great rounds and winning other classes and great ribbons,” said Kursinski. “There are so many variables that are different. You can talk to them about it, you can tell them about it, but to go and experience it, that is what it’s all about. It was a wonderful experience for them. I hope they can come again next year as Young Riders or get on the three-star teams when they’re ready. It is an invaluable team experience for them.”
Both the U.S. Young Rider and Junior Teams competed in their respective first competitions on Wednesday. For the U.S. Young Rider Team in the CSIOY first competition, Zayna Rizvi (Wellington, Fla.) and Exquise du Pachis, Optimus Agro NV’s 2010 Belgian Warmblood mare, started the team off with a clear round. Alex Alston (Gahanna, Ohio) and Prestigious, Alston Alliance, LLC’s 2007 Westphalian gelding, followed suit with another clear round. Charlise Casas (Kenilworth, Ill.) and Mustique VZ, Always Faithful Equine LLC’s 2012 Belgian Warmblood mare, had an eight-fault round, which served as the drop score. Audrey Schulze (Saddle River, N.J.) and Darquito, Andrew Bourns and QBS Equestrian LLC’s 2011 Hanoverian gelding, were the team’s anchor and tallied four faults. The U.S. Young Rider Team sat in second place on four faults out of 13 teams, moving them on to Saturday’s CSIOY Final.
For the U.S. Junior Team in the CSIOJ first competition, Hailey Royce (Wellington, Fla.) and Sonic Boom, Double Clear LLC’s 2012 Belgian Warmblood gelding, were the pathfinders with four faults. Next, Alexa Leong (Sacramento, Calif.) and Carlsson 72, her 2011 Hanoverian gelding, had a 13-fault round that served as the drop score. Elisa Broz (Freedom, Calif.) and Tinkerbell, Hidalgo, LLC’s 2010 Warmblood mare, got the team back on track with a clear round. Caroline Mawhinney (Wellington, Fla.) and Stella Levista, her 2008 Hanoverian mare, closed out the team’s effort with four faults. The U.S. Junior Team finished the first competition with 12 faults and sat in a three-way tie for seventh place. Since the U.S. Junior Team finished outside the top six who qualified for the final round by only three faults, they competed in Friday’s CSIOJ Challenge Cup.
The U.S. Junior Team members tackled the CSIOJ Challenge Cup with an eye on a top result. Royce and Sonic Boom were the pathfinders again, starting things off with a clear round. Leong and Carlsson 72 continued the trend with a clear round. Broz and Tinkerbell had an unlucky four-fault round. Mawhinney and Stella Levista delivered a clear round. The U.S. Junior Team finished tied on zero faults with the Czech Republic, resulting in a jump-off. Each U.S. combination came back and delivered speedy, clear rounds to clinch the CSIOJ Challenge Cup win.
The U.S. Young Rider Team returned to the ring for Saturday’s CSIOY Final against strong European teams including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. A tough track proved challenging for the field of competitors, with the U.S. finishing fifth on 24 faults and gathering experience for the future. Rizvi and Exquise du Pachis delivered another clear round as the pathfinders. Alston and Prestigious had two unfortunate stops, resulting in their round serving as the drop score. Casas and Mustique VZ and Schulze and Darquito both had 12-fault rounds to close out the team’s efforts.