Move over Burghley, it’s time for Jr. Beginner Novice cross country at the American Eventing Championships! This is the division to watch, as the country’s most formidable junior riders face off over the toughest yellow numbered jumps in the land.
Yesterday was intense, with lightning storms thrice interrupting Jr. Beginner Novice dressage with lengthy holds and ultimately postponing the remainder of the division until this morning. Riders were forced them to reevaluate their warmup gameplans on the fly and roll with the punches. Clearly, these kids are packing ice in their veins. Can they keep it up through cross country? We’re about to find out!
1:58 p.m.: Our first pair, Erin Roane and Beau Tie, is on course. Let’s do this thing, y’all!
2:01 p.m.: Drama! We have falls from two of the first four riders out, Erin Roane and Gracie Friend. Gracie’s mount, Feature Presentation, has left her for dead at fence #9 and is now on a mission to return to his nice, cozy stall ASAP, galloping lanes be darned.
2:08 p.m.: Phew! We’re just glad nobody got hurt and the horse checked out OK. Onward and upward. Meanwhile, Maggie Morris and Trump Lion have posted the first double-clear round of the division, followed by McKenzie and Addie Okie. Hayley Hayden and Lady Black Hawk pick up a couple stops at fence #7, the ditch, but finish strong. Hayden Brown and California Girl pick up 20 at #9, the water.
The game-faced duo of Emma Franklin and Teddybear spring forth out of the box …
… and come home triumphant!
Tell us about your super round on your superstar pony, Emma:
2:10 p.m.: Another clear round from Shaeleigh O’Brien and A Beautiful Promise.
2:12 p.m.: Ingrid Hofmeister and Berklee pick up 20 at fence #8, the Wiggly Rails, which several horses are giving the side-eye. They look great at the finish, big smiles and braids a-flying
Is that a dark storm cloud in the distance?
2:14 p.m.: Jr. Beginner Novice cross country is a great place to pick up turnout tips that are fashionable yet functional, like this electrical tape wrapped neck strap sported by Sophia Hardesty and San Marco. This pair goes on to come home double-clear.
2:16 p.m.: Ava Cunningham and Johnny’s Private Collection look solid from start to finish.
2:18 p.m.: The Wiggly Rails claim another victim in Riley Croft and Gallod Welsh Fashion, who have a stop there.
2:20 p.m.: Avery Daigle and FR’s Check It Out Now are pretty in pink …
… and you can deduce how their run went from this photo of their cheer squad:
2:22 p.m.: Haley Miller and Mr. Melvin look confident and steady around the course. (Don’t tell them we told you this, but in the future they’re going to move into the lead.)
2:26 p.m.: Both Ashley Smith with Oaxaca and Anna Santy with Balligomingo find the finish line with no jump faults.
2:28 p.m.: Maya Pessin and This Bird come home clear!
Love her flash black and gold cross country colors. Yes, duct tape comes in gold apparently!
2:30 p.m.: P.S. American Girl, a 25-year-old Pinto ridden by Emma Sletten, is making a huge comeback after earning the Jr. Training AEC reserve championship in 2008 with owner Madeline Backus — who was 12 at the time! When Madeline outgrew P.S. American Girl she began riding P.S. Ariana, her future four-star horse. Happy 10-year AEC homecoming, P.S. American Girl! You look 25 years young out there.
2:32 p.m.: Kendall Miller and King’s Ransom set out on course, but they’ll be the last to head out before officials spot lightning and send everybody back to the barn. Deja vu! Not again!!!
2:45 p.m.: In the downtime, we flag down Maya Pessin and make her recap her great ride. (She doesn’t know this yet, but her double-clear will move her from a tie for 3rd after dressage into a tie for 2nd!)
2:55 p.m. We then spot dressage leader Emily Hedberg and Mr. Mile High, who are waiting out the lighting hold.
4 p.m.: Finally, we have the greenlight to continue on! Game on. Adriana Cuellar and Ipso Facto leave the box …
4:02 p.m.: … followed by Ruth Mock and Wodie. Both come home clear.
4:04 p.m.: Anita Hawkes’ Silver Charm, the only Arabian in the division, caught my eye in the warm-up. Those pointy little ears! I just want to put them in my mouth and eat them. (I wouldn’t actually do that, Anita. Probably.)
Tail flagged the whole way around, they made short work of the course.
4:06 p.m.: Dressage leaders Emily Hedberg and Mr. Mile High are next up. They pick up a couple stops along the way — bummer!
4:08 p.m.: There are couple of paints in the division, including Paige Borylo’s Talisker. What a cute face!
4:10 p.m.: A lovely round for Kathryn Macomber and Gabe’s Gold!
4:12 p.m.: Tatum Gray had best smile of the division, and she wore it all the way around her course with Reds Loyal Flame, who had the best ear bonnet!
4:14 p.m.: Lauren Garcia is looking good on Park Avenue III.
4:16 p.m.: Just three more to go! Ella Robinson gets it done on Fernhill Fearless des Terdrix, which will move her into a tie for 2nd place.
4:20 p.m.: And our last two Jr. Beginner Novice competitors, Natalie Nabor with Lonely Soldier and Alexis Ehrlich with Poncho, come home clear!
Job well done to all!
Here are your Jr. Beginner Novice top 10 after cross country: