Washington State is sending two capable young eventers to represent Area VII at the Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships in Lexington, Ky., this week: Sophie Click and Viola Patience O’Neal. They are accompanied by Anni Grandia as chef d’equipe; Taryn Mckee as groom; and their coach, Dayna Lynd-Pugh.
Dana has been the Area VII Young Rider coach since April but has been involved in the program off and on for 20 years. “Area VII Young Riders is in a building phase,” Dana said. “This year, sending two riders to NAJYRC means that we will join another USEA area with only one or two riders to form a team. This is always a fun experience for the kids; they get to really bond with kids from other areas.”
Sophie Click from Redmond, Wash., is 15 years old and has been riding for 11 years. Her family has owned her gelding, Hot Wheels, for about a year. Together, they’ve competed through the Preliminary level and successfully finished a CIC*. Sophie says that her “goals for NAJYRC are to do as well as I possibly can.”
Her horse, Hot Wheels, is an 11-year-old Thoroughbred-Paint cross gelding that has competed to the CIC* level. Sophie said three words to describe him are “selfless, kindhearted and special.” “None of this would be possible without my loving and supportive mom and dad. They have helped me through all my struggles,” Sophie said.
Viola Patience O’Neal of Deer Park, Wash., comes from an equestrian family and has been riding her entire life. At only 14 years old, O’Neal has already earned notable successes with Markus, including a win at Prelim and a top-five finish at Twin Rivers CCI*. “My goals for NAJYRC are to do as well as possible and to learn as much as I can from the experience,” she said.
Her horse, Markus, is a 12-year-old off-track Thoroughbred gelding who has competed through the Advanced level with Karen O’Neal. Patience describes Markus as “playful, honest and brave.” “I would have to also thank my mom and dad for supporting me and never doubting me and never stopping pushing me to get better,” she said.
Check out video of Patience and Markus and Sophie and Hot Wheels in this Prelim cross-country footage from Aspen Farms Horse Trials last month, where they finished first and second in Jr./YR Prelim respectively:
Dana encourages everyone to follow the Area VII riders on the Area VII Facebook page, the NAJYRC Facebook page or here on Eventing Nation. “I feel strongly about promoting the program,” she said. “It is the biggest and coolest thing some of these kids will do in their equestrian careers. Some will be so inspired to continue on and quite possibly represent the USA on future teams. Many of our national team riders and four-star riders competed at NAJYRC.”
Go Area VII Young Riders!