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What a journey we had to the wild, wild west this year. NAJYRC this year was held at the beautiful Colorado Horse Park in Parker, CO. Due to the extend travel and acclimation issues for horses and riders, we held our training camp over 10 days at the O’Brien’s Kincora Farm in Vass, North Carolina. They were kind enough to donate their facility at no charge to the program again this year. Much appreciation from all of us.

Camp began on the 18th of July with the attendees including Laura Roberts, Kaitlin Spurlock, Kate Bagwell, Alex Martone Molly Curtiss and Benita Strini. All horse’s and rider’s arrived geared up and ready to go! This year Area II had only a CH * junior team and did not have any Young Riders qualified for the CH**. I am hopeful for next year though!

Training camp went really well. The only sad event was when Laura Robert’s horse, Blazer, came up lame during training and the decision was made to send the horse home. No worries though, Blazer and Laura will be back this fall and our aiming to make the 2009 JR CH* team! A huge thank you needs to go out to Mary and Mike Martone for donating their carriage house for the girls to stay in during camp. Having a home to stay in really made them so comfortable. On Friday the 25th we lovingly pack our team horses and equipment onto the Brookledge van and sent them on their 30+ hours journey. Luckily for the horses, they all were able to ride in box stalls, which really made a huge difference. After they left we all piled into a airport shuttle to RDU and made our own journey to Colorado. Our plan was to stay in hotels for the first 3 nights, and then move to RV’s on grounds during the actual competition. The horses arrived Saturday and we were greatly relieved to see them all bright and happy! We all owe extreme gratitude to Dr. Shauna Spurlock who traveled with us and took such good care of our horses! She managed to acquire such medical necessities as fluids, gastro guard, and so much else at cost for the riders, which really helped their pocket books. We arrived a full 5 days before the jog so that we all could acclimate to the high altitude. Although that really extended our expenses, the adjustment was difficult at times for us all, which made it the right decision.

Our team manager and apparel coordinator, Alex Curtiss, really out did herself on team ensemble. We had the best looking team ever! The ground jury was quite impressed with our turnout and we would be rewarded later. The horses jogged up great, and after much discussion, the O’Brien’s and Gwen and I made our team/individual selection. The team riders were, Benita Strini, Molly Curtiss, Alex Martone, and Kaitlin Spurlock, with Kate Bagwell being the individual. Area II drew first slot in the schedule, so Benita would be the first ride of the competition and Kaitlin Spurlock would be our anchor rider.

Dressage day dawned very hot and dry. During competition Colorado experienced some record breaking high temperatures of over 100 degrees! Without the humidity we were all used to, and the fact that we were 6,000 ft closer to the sun, it was very rough on all involved. By 11 am the ground jury waived shadbellies and hunt coats. I was very impressed with our team and individual scores. The day ended with Benita being tied for 1st, and the team in a comfortable 3rd.

The cross country course was outstanding! Well built and very inviting, while being difficult enough to provide a challenge. Benita handled the pressure of being first ride of the day very well, although with out the benefit of coaches and coordinators info on how a certain corner combination was riding, she unfortunately had 2 run outs at the corner. That is how the sport goes! The rest of our team did exceptionally well and we finished with 3 double clear rounds. Kate Bagwell came to some trouble at the first water and added 20 jump penalties to her score.

The horses were all very sound and looked great Saturday night and Sunday morning. Again we impressed the ground jury with our turn out. The stadium jumping arena was on 2 levels, with quite a bit of terrain issues. It was also a very long course with very square “airy” oxers and verticals. Not the best course for horses who have run over 8 minutes of cross-country the day before! The course took it toll on everyone including our team. Benita started the day with a flawless ride. What a way to redeem herself and ride through disappointment! It did not go so well for the rest of our team or our individual. Sunday’s sure can humble you! With our added penalties the team slipped to 7th, and our top scoring rider Molly Curtiss finished in 14th place. Everyone was very disappointed but the experienced gained will never be forgotten!

The highlight of the day was when a member of the ground jury came through the barns and informed us that Benita Strini was being awarded the Style award. We were very proud of her. The style award is awarded to 1 person in each discipline. Congratulations Benita! Much appreciation and thanks to everyone who helped get our team and our horses there and back safely and healthy. Great job everyone and we are looking forward to 2009!

Audrey and Gwen

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Madison Keen and her 22 year old draft cross, Stella, running training at Fall Morven Park Horse Trials. @mvk.eventing

Madison Keen and her 22 year old draft cross, Stella, running training at Fall Morven Park Horse Trials. @mvk.eventing

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