Maple Leaf Flies High In Reining Individual Final
By Brad Ettleman
Lexington, KY-Equipped with a new indoor facility, six strong teams and some of the most outstanding reining horses in North America, the SmartPakT North American Young Rider Reining Championships came to an emotional and suspenseful close today with the prestigious Individual competition.
For only the second time in history, the championships has declared an Individual Gold medalist in Darcy Wilson of Goodwood, Ontario, Canada, who stood on guard for her beloved Canada while securing an impressive score of 217. Wilson, who was the top Canadian rider at the first-ever NAYRC Reining Championships last year in Denver missed out the medals podium in 2008, but made a promise to herself to return in a big way in 2009.
“Last year was such a learning experience. I really took what I learned from 2008 and applied it to this year’s competition”, said Wilson. “My mare is such an amazing horse. She and I were together last year for this championship and we came back together again this year. She really pulled me through – she is amazing.”
Speaking of the overall experience, Wilson elaborated, “I’m in awe of all of this. I still can’t even believe this is happening. To be able to show for Canada and at such a high level is such a huge honor.” With three more years eligible to compete as a Young Rider, Wilson vows that she will definitely be back in 2010 and beyond.
The closest possible gap in the sport lay between Gold and Silver – with only a half of a point back, Erin Duddy of Montague, NJ, scored a 216.5 aboard Too Busy Cashin Chex. Duddy, who is a member of the formidable Team USA- Northeast, gave it everything she had to get into the front of the field. She secured the Silver position with only two possible contenders to follow. When the final slide was done, it was riders from the U.S. in Silver and Bronze.
Tied for Bronze, Maggie Jo Gratny of Leavenworth, KS, and Makenzie Lantz of Fremont, MI, both scored a 214.5 to round out the medals podium. All podium positions were scores of 214.5 or higher – a statement on the strength and depth of this year’s championships and a glimpse into the future of the sport of reining.
The reining competition was held as a part of the 2009 Adequan FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships. To learn more, visit http://www.youngriders.org/ .