The 1.10/1.15m Children's section kicked off the day, navigating a Jasen Shelley designed course to vie for championship medals. Zone 8's Sydney Stephenson and her mount, Oliver With A Twist had a single rail on course, her only faults of the week, maintaining her lead. In doing so, she stepped up to the p
odium to earn gold.
"I like how much Oliver tries for me," praised Stephenson. "He makes everything so much fun." The pair tactfully negotiated all four courses during the Championships, finishing the 3-day competition with just one rail in her Individual Championship round. Stephenson has plans to move up to 1.20m section soon.
Competitors from the 1.10/1.15m Adult Amateur section entered the arena next to pilot their mounts through a neat and tidy course.
Marilee Wilson and Jamakin Me Crazy from Zone 7 proved victorious. This is Marilee's second consecutive year competing in the Zone Jumper Team Championships.
"We did it [the championships] last year and we were fourth in the Individual and my team won the Team Championship," the amateur rider recalled.
She went on to credit her mount for the win.
"He's very competitive, the minute you walk into the arena he is 'game on!'" stated Wilson of her best friend's 19-year-old mount, "Mikey."
Marilee Wilson and Jamakin Me Crazy earn the gold medal in the Adult Amateur section. Credit: Captured Moment Photography
After a course rebuild and walk, 1.20/1.25m Jr/Am competitors jumped their way to top honors.
and her own Mozart's Symphony from Zone 7 earned gold. Madeleine purchased her mount as an unbroke 6-year-old and, has successfully trained him to be competitive in this Championship.
"I participated in the EAP clinic in Katy, Texas, with Julie Winkel last week as preparation, not just for the riding portion but also the stable management portion because I came here on my own, I didn't come with a barn" said Wilson.
Madeleine Wilson piloted Mozart's Symphony to the top spot in the 1.20/1.25m Jr/Am section. Credit: Captured Moment Photography
She also credited her Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund/USHJA Emerging Athletes Program experience for a successful change of bit that she felt confident made a noticable difference in her ride.
The 1.30/1.35m Jr/Am riders entered the arena last. Putting in a fault free round captured the victory for
and Camero. Epperson is a Zone 7 Houston, Texas, native.
"I didn't know too much about this and my mom signed me up [for the championship]" stated Epperson. "We got here and I thought 'Wow! This was a really good thing to do.'"
She added, "I thought the courses were so much fun! Yesterday, our course was a bit tougher but I thought with that many good riders in it, it needs to be a little tougher. I think the challenges were fitting- a lot of the riders in my section are competing at this height or up to 1.45m and I believe that if you're competing at that level you should be able to jump a tough course."
Caitlyn Epperson and Camero earn gold in the 1.30/1.35m Jr/Am section. Credit: Captured Moment Photography
Other riders also believed the Championships and courses, while challenging, were fitting for a competition of this level.
"I really enjoyed the program last year and this year was even better," praises gold medalist, Marilee Wilson. "I like the team competition. It's fun cheering each other on and being supportive and to have that team camaraderie"
"I thought it was challenging, but if you stayed on your pace all the jumps came together. They were nice courses" continued Wilson.
Medals, rider sashes, USHJA Gold Star saddle pads, an invitation to participate in a USHJA Gold Star Emerging Jumper Rider Clinic, and Gold Star Emerging Jumper Rider pins were awarded to gold, silver, and bronze medalists. Their trainers also received recognition as Gold Star Coaches. Gold medalists also went home with Professional's Choice Pro Performance Show Jumping Boots and championship coolers. The 1.10/1.15m Adult Jumper Individual gold medalist also received Parlanti boots for her efforts.
USHJA extends special thanks to Marion Maybank and the entire Colorado Horse Park team for hosting the Championships. USHJA also thanks Zone 7 Chef d'Equipe Matt Cyphert and Zone 8 Chef d'Equipe Laurie Grayson.