It has been a fantastic week at the Adequan® North American Youth Championships presented by Gotham North, with great displays of riding and team spirit. Young athletes, chefs d’equipe, and families have tackled new challenges and experienced a gamut of emotions during their time at Rebecca Farm, but it has all been worthwhile.
The juniors and young riders have been abuzz throughout their time at the NAYC. The event is the culmination of a goal, sometimes years in the making, and takes place at a picturesque venue, thanks to Rebecca Farm’s owners, the Broussard family.
“Young Riders is always the best week of the year,” said Madeline Lichten, a member of the Areas I & II CCIY3* team. “It is always so much fun, and we are so lucky to here at Rebecca [Farm]; it is just beautiful.”
The team experience at the NAYC is new to many of the juniors and young riders, but they have quickly embraced their fellow teammates.
“I am really glad to have the amount of support, not only for the team, but the others behind the team,” explained William Kidwell of the Area III CCIY3* team. “The team has been a great help. It just feels really good to know people are helping you out. I am really thankful for all that.”
“I love my team! I think it is so awesome how much we support each other,” said Elizabeth Henry of the Area VIII CCIJ2* team. “It is amazing knowing you have people behind you ready to talk to you about your day or talk to you about this thing on the course or go over your test with you or talk about how your rides went. It is just amazing knowing that you have support from other people. You know them, and you know they are there for you. I love it.”
Chefs d’equipe are an important part of the NAYC team equation, organizing the various moving parts and making things run smoothly. Tayler Owen, the Area V chef d’equipe, never competed at the NAYC herself, but she is thrilled to be participating as the team manager of sorts. The 2019 NAYC marks her third year in the “chef” role, and it has brought her much joy.
“It is pretty exciting to watch these kids grow,” explained Owen. “Being a chef, you are there for the good times and the bad times – basically, you wear a lot of different hats. In general, it is really fun to watch these kids go through something like this; for a lot of them, this is either their first or their last time. … Getting here you are a mentor, a mom, and a best friend. It is quite an experience, and it is one that I do enjoy every year, being the chef.”
Parents also play a huge supporting role for the young athletes attending the NAYC. They recognize their child’s passion and drive for equestrian sport and help make the journey possible. The week at the NAYC definitely can be stressful, but parents tough it out. Shannon O’Roark, mother of Area II CCIJ2*-L team member Caitlin O’Roark, was ecstatic after her daughter’s cross-country round, but waiting for her to start the course was rough.
“It’s awful,” O’Roark said with a laugh. However, when her daughter finished, she said, “It is the best feeling in the world!”
O’Roark beamed with pride due to her daughter’s NAYC performances thus far. “She had one of her best dressage tests ever at this level. She went double-clear [on cross-country], so she is still on her dressage score.”
As of Saturday, O’Roark’s favorite moment was when her daughter came across the cross-country finish line. “Now we just need to get through tomorrow,” O’Roark added.
The NAYC at Rebecca Farm comes to a close Sunday with the final phase, but it has been a memorable week. New friendships have been formed, horse-and-rider partnerships have developed further, and lessons have been learned for the future. Equestrian sport is definitely a team effort, and that fact has been on display this week in Montana.
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