USHJA Zones 1 & 2 Riders Earn Coveted Medals and Gold Star Emerging Jumper Rider Titles at Jumper Team Championships
The United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Zones 1 and 2 Jumper Team Championships concluded three days of thrilling competition on Sunday, August 26, after team and individual honors were won in Children’s, Adult Amateur, and combined Junior/Amateur sections at Princeton Show Jumping in Princeton, NJ.
Highlighting individual competition, nine riders excelled over four rounds set by course designer Bernardo Cabral of Portugal to win individual medals and 2018 USHJA Gold Star Emerging Jumper Rider titles. Gold Star Emerging Jumper Riders are invited to attend one of the prestigious USHJA Gold Star Clinics.
Fourteen-year-old Claudia Citrin of Bedford Hills, NY, stormed to victory in the Children’s 1.10m/1.15m section riding her won Don Juan. Citrin won the first qualifier earlier in the week and did not touch a single rail throughout the rest of the championships to finish atop the podium just fractions of a second ahead of the silver medal finisher, Dakota Champey.
Citrin just became the owner of Don Juan after leasing the Dutch Warmblood gelding for six months, saying, “I call him Donald, and you wouldn’t think he would be a fast horse, but he is!” “I was pretty nervous,” continued Citrin of her first time participating in the Zone Jumper Team Championships. “But, my horse is also very trustworthy, so he really saved me after a mistake at the first jump in round one yesterday. After that, we made our way around, and I am thankful for him and very happy about our gold medal.”
Behind Citrin, Champey of Far Hills, NJ, was just under four-tenths of a second off the winning time to earn the silver medal riding Escape, owned by MDHT Equestrian, LLC, while Cecilia Van Paasschen of Greenwich, CT, piloted her own Hocus Pocus to the bronze medal. Both Champey and Van Paasschen were also fault-free after four rounds of jumping. Their times from the first day in the Individual Qualifer were what set each of them apart on the podium.
Adult Amateur riders also boasted perfect scores with the three medalists earning zero faults throughout the championships. Like their Children’s counterparts, the First Individual Qualifier times determined their spots on the podium. Darian Smith of Villanova, PA, won the opening qualifier and left all the rails up over the following three rounds to claim the gold medal in the Adult Amateur 1.10m/1.15m section. She piloted her own Aymar De La Rose.
Her Selle Français gelding underwent a career change in 2016 and has found his niche, according to Smith. “I got him in 2015 as a 3′ hunter, but we switched to jumpers after a year and have been doing that ever since,” said Smith, who participated in the Zone Jumper Team Championships for the first time this year. “He’s my soul horse, and I have been working really hard for this all year. I started crying immediately when I realized we had won.
Kendra Sue Walmer of Reinholds, PA, finished just over a second behind Smith to earn the silver medal riding Electra, owned by Andrew Ross, and Hayley Anderson of New Boston, NH, took the bronze medal aboard her own Calico Blue.
At just 16-years-old, Morgan Champey of Far Hills, NJ, piloted her own Baronesse to a fast clear round in the Junior/Amateur 1.20m/1.25m and 1.30m/1.35m section on the final day of competition to finish on a total of eight faults and take individual gold. “I don’t think I have ever been this happy after a horse show,” said Champey, who rounded out the trio of gold medalist who had never participated in the Zone Team Championships before. “After yesterday, when I had a clear round for the team championship, I couldn’t stop smiling and then today after I was clear again it was an amazing feeling.”
“My horse can be a sassy diva, but she is also like a dirt bike and really fast,” said Champey of the mare she has had the ride on for four years. “She tries her hardest every time and I am really proud that she stepped up to get clear rounds when we really needed them.”
Cameron Tague of Cream Ridge, NJ, stepped on the silver platform after finishing a rail behind Champey aboard her own Gentlleman VHM, while amateur Stephanie Dixon of Ringoes, NJ, scored the bronze medal riding her own Valenzia.
At the conclusion of the Zones 1 & 2 Jumper team Championships, all Individual Champions received a pair of Professional’s Choice Pro Performance boots, cooler, sash, ribbon, and gold medal. Additionally, the 1.10m/1.15m Adult Amateur Jumper Individual gold medalist received a pair of Parlanti paddock boots. USHJA recognized all the individual medalists as 2018 Gold Star Emerging Jumper Riders by awarding them an exclusive 2018 Gold Star Emerging Jumper Rider pin that can be worn at future competitions to distinguish them. Trainers of these riders are also recognized as 2018 Gold Star Jumper Coaches and received specialized pins that denote their title.
Comradery was at a peak on Saturday, August 25, when teams competed for overall medal position over two rounds under Nations’ Cup format.
After a three-horse jump-off, Zone 2 earned the first gold with Hunter Champey, Claudia Citrin, David Eakin, and Jordan Ferrier taking top honors in the Children’s 1.10m/1.15m section. Fellow Zone 2 riders Dakota Champey, Isabelle Gochtovtt, Ava Kavulich, and Devon Owen earned the silver medal, while a Zone 1 and 2 combined three-rider team of Mathew Acevedo of Zone 2, Jessie Goodwin of Zone 1, and Cecilia van Paasschen of Zone 1 took bronze.
In his seventh year as Zone 2 Chef d’Equipe at the Jumper Team Championships, James Benedetto noted, “I think this program is exceptional and a great building block for these riders to reach the top. I get to see riders year after year continue to step up and excel in the higher divisions.” “The pressure was on Zone 2 today, but this is a strong group of riders that work well together, so I am really happy,” he continued. “Andrew [Philbrick] and his team at Princeton Show Jumping do an excellent job hosting this event; the footing was great and Bernardo did a wonderful job with the courses. The horses jumped well, and it was great sport.”
Despite not having the luxury of a drop score with a three-rider team, Zone 1 dominated the Adult Amateur 1.10m/1.15m section. Hayley Anderson, Leigh Gallagher, and Anna Lerch jumped fault-free for the gold medal, while Zone 2’s Emily Daignault-Salvaggio, Stacey Mahoney, Barbara Rochford, and Kendra Sue Walmer took silver. Fellow Zone 2 team riders Nicole Palmer, Kristen Rohr, Joy Slater, and Katherine Willekes earned bronze.
“They all rode perfectly!” said Kristi Smith, Zone 1 Chef d’Equipe. “No one made a mistake over three rounds, and I was very lucky to have three really good riders. They made me look good!” “This championship is a really fun experience for these child and adult riders, but it also puts a little pressure on them,” continued Smith, who returned to serve as Chef d’Equipe this year after making her debut at the championships. “Showing as part of a team is not something they get to do a lot, but it is really valuable for them. I am so proud of Zone 1 today.”
In the 1.20/1.25m and 1.30/1.35m Junior/Amateur section, Zone 2 returned to the top of the podium with Morgan Champey, Stephanie Dixon, Samantha Johnson, and Jillian Rosenwasser accepting the gold medal. The silver medal went to a combined team, including Haley Cassidy of Zone 1, Kathleen Full-Baudeneau of Zone 2, Sydney Smith of Zone 1, and Sarah Wood of Zone 2, while Zone 2 rounded out the podium with Prima Rose Bonaventura, Devon Shaw, Cameron Tague, and Jake Parker Wymard in the bronze medal position.