My name is Annick Niemuller, I’m am eventer on the Ontario 1* team riding my Grandfathers horse FE Black Jack, a 7 year old, German Sport Horse gelding. Last year I described the North American Junior Young Rider Championships as the Olympics for teenagers. As a returning Young Rider this year I can’t think if a better way to put it again.
Coming into Young Riders with Jack marks our 7th month together and it’s still a relationship in progress. We qualified at the Ocala CCI 1* this past April on a 44.8, finishing 6th out of 80 riders. That was a pretty incredible experience. After that weekend I felt like we were definitely a serious contender for the individual gold medal this year. Our prep leading up to this week was on a steady uphill with a few bobbles here and there that were worked out.
Anyone who’s been to Young Riders before, whether as a groom or rider, will agree that the atmosphere can make even the most relaxed a little on edge, which was the case for me today in Dressage. Jack is only seven years old as I mentioned earlier but he is one of the most easy going horses I’ve ridden. I believe the term I used when I tried him was “Marijuana Chill”. At any rate I felt confident that we would score a low 40 or maybe, just maybe, even drop into the 30’s!
Now Jack was a ball of energy the first few days at the horse park. Which isn’t a bad thing, except that Jack can also get distracted when he is energetic. This made me worry because I didn’t want to take him into the ring while he was distracted knowing that he could do so much better. By Thursday Jack was back! As soon as I got on I couldn’t stop smiling because he felt ready to work and please like he always does.
I do have to say thank you to Ashley Holzer who did a fantastic job schooling me in dressage on Thursday. She really helped to put final touches on our dressage skills! Ashley also oversaw our warmup before our dressage test. As far as I’m concerned Jack won the warmup, he was soft, supple, and straight.
Finally the moment came to make our big splash. We walked down the little lane way to get into the dressage arena, which we were given the opportunity to walk around in the previous evening. Jack had been totally comfortable in the arena the previous evening, he couldn’t care less about the big screen in the far corner or the huge number of flowers and shrubs or the big white tents. So here I was thinking that he would rock around the arena.
I wasn’t totally wrong, when Jack went in he became very aware of all the people watching or walking beside the ring and the judges in the white tents. He didn’t act up or become overly spooky at anything but he was a little ruffled.
The test was still a solid test earning us a 46.1 and placing us in 7th going into cross country. What bothers me about it is that there were two very obvious accuracy errors that I made that would have dropped our score. I should have chosen accuracy over looking pretty. That however speaks to the inexperience we have together as a team. I will say however that his trot and walk work was beautiful! He was forward and reaching in his medium trot, stretching in his serpentine, and steady in his extended walk.
At the end of the day it’s still earned a good score and Eventing isn’t a dressage show. Anything can happen on cross country. Plus the scores this year are insanely tight so every little bit counts!
Our Ontario team did extremely well! Autumn Smith rode her horse Mercury very well and got a 61.1. Alexis Murray rode an extremely accurate test and received a 50.3, her best FEI score yet! And Ailsa Morrison rode a solid test earning a 49.7. Our individual riders, Linnea Given scored a 59.9, sadly I wasn’t there to watch her ride so I can’t really comment on it, and Emily Thompson rode a great test earning her a 45.9.