Alberta’s youth reining champions have added an international accolade to their resume, after claiming the gold medal at the North American Junior and Young Riders Championship in Kentucky late last month.
Chloe Beveridge, 20, of Springbank and Sage Sapergia, 17, from Cochrane were two of the four riders who won the top prize in the team horse reining event in Lexington, Ken., July 29.
“They were running against top youth reiners from across North America and for them to come out on top was extremely exciting,” said Beveridge’s mother Kim Magnuson.
“You don’t know until the very last set of riders go in, who is actually going to win it because someone could have one little bobble and lose major points.”
The NAJYRC is a North American competition, run with international rules, that has been in operation since the 1970s.
Reining was only added three years ago, joining the other major disciplines of show jumping, dressage and eventing.
The four-member Alberta team, also including Carseland’s Kaylynn Malmberg and St. Paul’s Nancy Pratch, formed their squad after competing in a series of three qualifying runs earlier this year. All four girls competed in the individual event as well, with Pratch earning the top spot, Malmberg second and Sapergia third.
The girls then performed again individually, but their scores combined into one total against five other teams, three from Canada and two from the United States, for their gold-medal winning event.
“Reining involves the rider and the horse going through a series of maneuvers and patterns,” Magnuson explained.
“The horse must look like it’s willingly doing it, with no yanking on the reins, and it’s controlled mostly by the rider’s body and legs.”
Making the 3,200-kilometre drive with four horses wasn’t an easy feat, Magnuson said, as a three-vehicle convoy drove for 50 hours with all the horses in one trailer.
“That was a task in itself,” she said. “We put in 40 bales of hay, as well as supplements like flax, and a 60-gallon container of water.
They also had a few issues on the way down, with three flat tires on the trailer at different times.”
Three of the horses were dehydrated upon arrival, and only had one day of recovery before the competition began, but they were back to 100 per cent by show time.
“The horses were able to respond and the girls really came together as a team,” Magnuson said.
“Reining is normally a very individual event, but they were very supportive of each other and now they have this shared experience and title.”
For more information on the North American Junior and Young Riders Championship, visit www.youngriders.org