Traverse City, Mich. – The Region 4 Team comprised of Lexie Kment (Palmyra, Neb.) and Montagny von der Heide, Kylee Kment (Pamyra, Neb.) and Honor, and Ella Fruchterman (West Lakeland, Minn.) and Holts Le’Mans, rode to the top of the podium in the Junior Team Test at the North American Youth Dressage Championships, finishing with a final team score of 202.667 to take team gold.
Region 7 finished in second place to take the silver medal with a team total of 197.787 following rides from Nicole Ellsworth (La Jolla, Calif.) and Rower Be, Jospehine Hinnemann (Murietta, Calif.) aboard Breanna, Lily-Rose Bacon (Atherton, Calif.) and Warm Night, and Ellanor Boehning (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) with Banderas SK. Region 3 earned the bronze medal with a total score of 194.303, following team performances from Elaine Grubbs (St. Matthews, S.C.) and Enebro XIV, Misha Cohen (Southwest Ranches, Fla.) with Fuerstenglanz, and Kat Fuqua (Atlanta, Ga.) with Dream Girl.
The team from Region 4 bested the rest of competition in the FEI Junior Team Test by almost five points thanks to strong rides from sisters Lexie and Kylee Kment and Fruchterman. Kylee Kment and Honor, a nine-year-old gelding owned by Jami Kment led the team with the highest score, receiving a 69.606 percent from the judging panel. Lexie Kment and Montagny von der Heide, a 17-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Laureen van Norman received a 67.394 percent to continue the team’s ascent to the podium. Fruchterman and Holts Le’Mans, a 10-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Ella & Todd Fruchterman rounded out the team’s total score with a 65.667 percent.
“Today I thought Honor was so good. He worked really hard and the one thing I was so proud of was that he stayed collected and supple, which is obviously always good,” said Kment of her test. “This is my very first time at NAYC. I didn’t really know what to expect, but this is amazing – the facilities, the people, everything. It hasn’t sunk in yet that I’m on a gold medal-winning team. I’m just so proud of all of us. I’ve ridden Honor for a year and a half, and he’s my mother and grandmother’s horse. We kind of grew up with him and he’s just kind of part of the family.”
“I just want to say thank you so much to Laureen van Norman for letting me ride her special boy. This is my first time competing here, and it’s amazing. I’ve always dreamed of having that anthem play for me,” added Lexie Kment, as she talked about being a part of the gold-medal team.
“This is my very first time here at NAYC. I’ve had him for about nine months, and we grew together a lot in Florida, that was kind of our kick-off. Right now, I’m just so in the moment, and so proud of how far we’ve come in such a short period of time,” said Fruchterman, “I really couldn’t have done it without my parents, and my trainer, and all of my friends at the barn who have encouraged me and kept me going and have gotten me to this point.
“This team’s strength is that it really is a team. I taught junior high for 38 years, and I’ve never seen a group of young people who have worked together so hard for so long. They are truly a team, and they make our entire region very proud,” said Ann Sushko, Chef d’Equipe for Region 4. Nancy Gorton, who has also served as Chef d’Equipe for Region 4, commended the team’s efforts for taking the top podium spot once again.
“I am elated to see these girls up there because it is the second year in a row that we’ve been atop the podium at NAYC. Region 4 has always been the underdog, we’re the flyover states, but I think that what we’re seeing is the dedication to the sport that’s been passed down over generations,” said Gorton. “They are partners, not just as a team, but they treat their horses with such respect and love, and it’s amazing to see. I’m very proud of that.”
The Region 7 team hailing from the West Coast made their presence known with a second-place finish, making the most of their journey from California to Traverse City. Bacon and her own Warm Night, a 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding scored a team high 67.515 percent. Ellsworth and Rower Be, a 21-year-old Rhinelander gelding owned by Elizabeth Keadle received a 66.121 percent, while Hinnemann and Breanna, a 21-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Kathleen Raine, Jennifer Mason, and David Wightman, earned a 64.151 percent to round out the team scores. Boehning and Banderas SK, a 15-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Ann & Ellanore Boehning earned a 63.727 as the fourth member of the team.
“He teaches me something every time I get on him, and it’s so valuable to have him as a partner. All those lessons really solidified into a positive consistent test today. I’m so happy that he went in and trusted me, and we were able to mold that into what I was looking for, and that’s just special,” said Bacon. “To have my own personal team here, my twin sister is grooming for me, and my trainer Hillary Martin is here, so be able to come here with four supportive riders and their families, it’s been incredible to have such a great group of people supporting us going into the competition today.
The three-member team from Region 3 rounded out the top three placings on the podium to take the bronze medal. Fuqua and her own Dream Girl, a 13-year-old KWPN mare, earned the team’s highest mark with a 67.364 percent. Cohen rode Fuerstenglanz, a 15-year-old Oldenburg stallion to a score of 64.000 percent, with Grubbs and Enebro XIV, a 17-year-old PRE gelding earning a 62.939 to add to the team’s overall tally.
“I was really happy with my test. I thought it was really consistent, but a highlight was our changes,” said Fuqua, who is also riding in jumping championships as well. “I’m riding in the children’s jumpers this week too. I think that both disciplines complement each other. The flatwork helps with my jumper, and the jumpers make me a stronger dressage rider. Luckily today I had a bit of a break between the jumpers and dressage, so it all worked out well.”
Competition continues tomorrow with the Junior Individual Test, followed by the FEI Junior Freestyle Test on Sunday, August 15.