Young Rider Team Dressage Kicks Off North American Junior & Young Rider Champs

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USA's Region 7 Young Rider gold medal dressage team of Brian Hafner, Amanda Harlan, Christine Stephenson and Brianna Dutton
USA's Region 7 Young Rider gold medal dressage team of Brian Hafner, Amanda Harlan, Christine Stephenson and Brianna Dutton

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, July 23–The first gold medal of the 2009 Adequan FEI North American Junior & Young Riders Championships presented by Gotham North was won by USA Region 7 (California/Nevada) Wednesday.

Barely four points separated the gold and bronze medal teams on the first day of competition that was plagued by heavy rain.

The first placed team consisting of Brian Hafner and Lombardo LHF, Amanda Harlan and Liberté, Christine Stephenson and Markant and Brianna Dutton and Tibet, finished with a team total of 198.631.

“I got really lucky today,” Hafner said. “My horse was really solid. We had a few minor faults. It is a huge deal for me to be part of this group and do so well as a team.”

Harlan agreed with Hafner, and got the added privilege of experiencing the rain firsthand.

“I was very happy with my ride today.  I rode in the pouring rain for the first time!” she said. “I’m so happy to be here. It’s been an amazing journey.”

Dutton and Stephenson finished with solid scores, but both were thrilled with their team’s efforts and with receiving the gold medal.

“There were a few more mistakes than usual,” Dutton said. “But, it was nice to ride and get out there. My team is really awesome.”

“I didn’t have the greatest ride today,” Stephenson admitted, but added, “I have the best teammates anyone could ever have. It was just awesome being there and being able to compete.”

The silver medal team from USA Region 2 (Midwest) was made up of Ashlee Todosijevic and Sjoerd, Brittany McCarthy and Gabelle, Kristen N. Becker and Ramses and Kassandra Barteau and GP Raymeister.  Region 2 had two riders finish in the top three individually, and had a combined score of 197.315.

The Bronze medal went to USA Region 3 (Southeast) with a combined score of 194.579.  The Region 3 team included Mary-Cameron Rollins on Rose Nior 2, Caroline Roffman on Accent Aigu FRH, Amanda Sterns on Revanche and McKenzie Jenkins on Tsarina Bint RII.

Topping the leader board individually after the first round of dressage was Brian Hafner aboard the Hanoverian Lombardo LHF.  Hafner posted a score of 68.842 per cent from the five judges. Lombardo has been with Hafner since he was a four-year-old.

“We had a few minor faults,” he said. “But I am very fortunate to have a great horse. He’s so amazing. He has a great personality, and I am very blessed to have him.”

Hafner goes go school in San Diego and trains with Laurie Falvo Doyle.

Becker and Ramses were in second place on 67.789 per cen with .to put themselves in second place and Kassandra Barteau and her GP Raymeister in third place with 67.579 per cent.