Five Champions Crowned at 7th Annual Florida International Youth Championships
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Story & Photos by LILY FORADO for dressage-news.com
WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 4, 2019–The latest edition of Florida International Youth Dressage Championships saw enormous growth over the previous six events at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
Being the youth highlight of the Wellington season of 12 weeks, these championships are more than a competition, they offer riders from ponies and childrena to juniors, young riders and under-25 divisions the chance to compete on a larger scale. Events throughout the week boost camaraderie and sportsmanship.
In other words, it’s a perfect opportunity to showcase their talent at one of the best dressage competitions in the world at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
After hectic days of non-stop competition from Wednesday through Sunday, the multiple battles to become Youth Champion was a spectacle. A total of 28 riders proudly, and loudly supporting each other, represented their nations, Canada, Germany, Spain and host United States.
As in previous years, the scoring format to decide the championships was 40 per cent for team test, 40 per cent for individual and 20 per cent for the musical freestyle.
Crowned Florida Youth Champions for 2019:
–Natalia Pai of the United in Under-25;
–Natalia Bacariza of Spain in Young Riders and Juniors;
–Scarlett Hansen of Canada in Ponies, and
–Justine Boyer of the United States in Children.
For the first time, the Under-25 division had the most entries with 13 combinations, followed by Young Riders with 11 pairs, Juniors with six, Ponies with two and Children with one participant.
The initiative was promoed by the Winter Intensive Program Dressage4kids promoted by American Olympian Lendon Gray, and sponsored by Hampton Green Farm of Wellington and Fruitport, Michigan and Terri Kane of Diamante Farms in Wellington with support of JustWorld International.
Impressive Natalie Pai & Unlimited
U.S. rider Hope Cooper held the lead after the first day of competition (Intermediate II) in Under-25, claiming first and second places with Hot Chocolate W and Don Diamond, respectively. However, on the second day, Natalie Pai with Unlimited climbed up several places in the Grand Prix to snatch first place.
The championship came down to the crucial freestyles. The riders danced along to the music. The battle they fought was exciting up to the last. Natalie Pai went to the top of the podium.
“This is my third year doing the U25 youth championships,” the 21-year-old rider said afterward. “We’ve come such a long way, the first year we did it we came in dead last after a lot of mistakes on my end. Last year we also had a lot of mistakes. And this year I was a little bit nervous.
“It’s always a fun thing to come here and do the championships, and to be able to win is awesome. He’s such a good horse and he tries so hard. This was a long week and for him to come out there every single day and just give me everything, that’s amazing. Especially on the very last day when it was really hot, that was great. I’m really proud of him.”
Natalia Bacariza Undefeated in Young Riders and Juniors for Double Hat Trick
Natalia Bacariza, the 17-year-old Spanish rider won all of the six classes–three as a Junior and three as a Young Rider– she competed in with her two different mounts.
Natalia and Dhannie Ymas set the standard from the first day, showing the close partnership the 17-year-old rider has with Dhannie, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding. With averages of more than 72 per cent in both team and individual tests, the result in the Freestyle on Sunday was an incredible 74.742 per cent.
Natalia also took home the blue ribbon in the Junior Division for the second year in a row, with Romántico Ymas, a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding. After taking the team and individual classes, she completed her sweep with a Freestyle score of 76.458 per cent, highest score in the championships.
“The two horses that won are completely different,” she said. “Dhannie is more with you and he loves being the center of attention; when he goes in the ring, he’s like ‘I’m a star’.
“And with Romantico, I’m not as confident with him yet because this is my first year competing him, and he hasn’t done any CDI before. So, it’s a learning process together, but I’m super happy with how it’s going “
Canada’s Scarlett Hansen Pony Champion
Scarlett Hansen, 14-year-old Canadian, came out on top of the three competitors in the Pony division riding Reve De Glatigny. The duo scored 66.571 per cent in the team test, 67.207 per cent in the Individual test and 68.792 per cent in the Freestyle.
Scarlett is from Normandy, France but lives in Quebec.
“My relationship with my pony is really strong, we love to play together,” she said, “and he loves treats… because he is a pony. My pony was born at home, and I trained him myself, so I’m really proud of him. I think we did really good, and I’m really happy.”
Justine Boyer of USA Youngest Winner at Age 12
The Children’s division winner was 12-year-old Justine Boyer of Hampton Green Farm in Wellington riding the schoolmaster, P.R.E Lentisco XVIII. The pair scored 63.538 per cent in the team test and 61.071 per cent in the individual.
Justine has been riding for two years and admits that both she Lentisco both enjoy showing. “He’s very sweet,” she said of the horse, “and very strong.” The individual test was the strongest, she said, because “we got more forward.”
Camille Carier Bergeron/Acoeur-CAN
Hope Cooper/Don Diamond-USA
Natalia Bacariza/Dhannie Ymas-ESP
Vanessa Creech-Terauds/Fleur de Lis L-CAN
Quinn Iverson/Black Diamond CL-USA
Natalia Bacariza/Romantico Ymas-ESP
Mathilda Von Guttenberg/Fly Rio-GER
Scarlett Hansen/Reve de Glatigny-CAN
Justine Boyer/P.R.E Lentisco XVIII-USA