Road to NAJYRC: Teresa Harcourt

With the North American Junior & Young Rider Championships just two weeks away, Area VI eventer Teresa Harcourt and her teammates are pumped up and ready to head east.

From Teresa:

The title of this blog gives it away but all that is going through my mind is the song, “The Final Countdown” by Europe.

Editor’s note: Horse Nation NEVER turns down an opportunity to post a good ’80s music video, so here it is.

I don’t know if the whole meaning of the song is entirely appropriate due to the talk about leaving for space, etc. However, we are officially 10 days away from leaving on a jet plane and landing in the Blue Grass State.  Cue the excitement, packing chaos, bubble wrapping of horses, and complete denial that this is actually happening.

This last weekend was Area VI Young Rider Camp held at the Baxters’ wonderful Twin Rivers Ranch. Although the weather provided for the beginning of a tan on my horrific white legs (common in the Eventing World), it was brutally hot which was a great preparation for Kentucky.

Young Rider Camp was a great opportunity to meet our fellow young riders who aren’t candidates and get to work with wonderful coaches. On Friday, the Area VI Team members had an incredible opportunity to ride with Dressage (R) Judge Vicki Matisi, who watched and made comments throughout our ride. This was an extremely educational and helpful experience. She pointed every fine detail out and gave us ways to improve.

Later that day, Sarah and I show-jumped with Dayna Lynd-Pugh (AREA VI Queen of all coaches). As usual, it was a wonderful lesson that focused on the fine details of our rounds and improvement on those details.

Saturday followed with each of the team members working on either dressage or show-jumping. My favorite part of the whole lesson was seeing many of the young riders including my teammate, Sarah Braun, there to watch and learn from my lesson.

Camp was a true statement to how wonderful AREA VI is. I would like to thank Jodie Renk and Margie Molloy for a wonderful camp experience. Everyone was more than welcoming and extremely helpful the entire weekend. All the parents who are involved with AREA VI; THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU DO! Also, AREA VI would like to give a huge shout out and THANK YOU to our awesome sponsors: Western Saddlery, Toklat, Fleeceworks and Ride On Video!

With NAJYRC being so close, I wanted to introduce the rest of the AREA VI TEAM! The next blog will be from Kentucky! How exciting is that?!?!? Thank you Horse Nation for all of your support and letting AREA VI share our journey! Until next time!!!


1)    Jordan Horowitz, CCI*

Hi! I’m Jordyn and I ride Nicodemus or as known at home, Nico. Nico is a 16 hand, 11-year-old, German Warm blood that I bought from Amy Tryon last spring. I am a 14 year old soon to be freshman in high school. Young Riders seemed like an unreal dream to me when my trainer Robyn Fisher mentioned I should go for earning a spot on the one star team! Since then my wildest dreams have become my amazing reality! I rode with Ian Stark for the first time in January! Finished my first Prelim and CIC*, and learned more than I ever knew about the FEI and my horse! Now here’s where my story get’s a bit different: Most of the Area VI Young Riders obtained their qualifying scores at the Twin Rivers International Horse Trials in April. But since I couldn’t make it to Twin that weekend, Nico and I went for the June Colorado CCI*! Unfortunately, we faced an early elimination at fence 8 on cross-country. Extremely disappointed, I was determined to go to Young Riders this year! So we re-packed our things, and headed for Illinois to compete in the Fox River Valley CCI*. After an amazing and rewarding weekend Nico and I learned so much and qualified for Young Riders, earning us a spot on the one star team! After a lot of work and setbacks, I look forward to joining my horse in Kentucky and competing with the rest of the Area VI one star and two star riders! I feel very lucky and blessed to be apart of this amazing team!

2)     Gigi Herron, CCI*

Hi! My name is Gigi Herron and I am 15 years old. I have been very fortunate to get to compete Max Mcmanamy’s three star horse, Beacon Hill aka Taylor. I first began competing him in January. I then qualified for the CCI One Star Team at Twin Rivers Ranch this April where Taylor and I finished 3rd. Competing at Young Riders has been a huge dream of mine for a long time especially after seeing Max’s success at Young Riders in 2009 on Taylor. He is a joy to ride and he really knows his business. I can’t believe my dream is coming true in less than a month.

3)    Erin Murphy, CCI*

Hi, I’m Erin Murphy and I’m seventeen years old and going into my senior year in high school. I live in West Los Angeles, and I got my start in riding at the age of six when I joined the Pony Club. I started off with a 14.2 hand Morgan pony who I evented through the training level.

A couple of years ago I decided to try to move up through the levels, and I got a Dutch Warmblood, Sunrijse Sonata, who I took training level. I was about to move up to Preliminary and had just begun thinking about Young Riders when I had a bad ski accident and had to have surgery on my knee in January of 2011. Unfortunately, that injury forced me to take 10 months off of riding. Fortunately, by the time I was ready to return in September, my sister had gone off to college and left her horse, Myster E, who I began riding.

By the start of 2012, I was riding both Sunrijse Sonata and Myster E at the Preliminary level, with the goal of trying to make the Young Rider team. I was able to qualify both horses for NAJYRC at the April Twin Rivers CCI*.

Myster E, the horse I chose to bring to NAJYRC, is an 18 year old off the track thoroughbred. He is named Myster E because he was born on Easter. Myster E is a horse that loves his job and is quite the runner. I expect NAJYRC to be a thrill of a lifetime and am grateful to be a part of that experience.

4)    Sarah Braun, CCI**

I am Sarah Braun, 19. I compete my 12 year old Canadian Thoroughbred mare, Perfect Intentions, which I brought up through the levels starting in 2008. We learned from each other and perfected our team work together.

In 2011, I had intended to represent the Area VI Junior 1* team at the NAJYRC, but a little bump in the road kept us from going. I trained with Ann Byron, who brought us from training level to the 1*level and prepared us for Intermediate.

Then, I got the opportunity of a life time last August to work for Hawley Bennett-Awad, who I always idolized and respected. So I packed my bags, my horse and moved to Southern California.  Hawley, her groom and a close friend, Natalia Gurmankin, encouraged and supported me to try for the Area VI Young Rider 2* team this year. So as both Hawley and Natalia headed for the East Coast this spring, I stayed in So Cal to prepare for my up and coming first CIC2* this March at Galway Downs Spring International Horse Trails. Hawley flew out that weekend to compete some young horses and coach me. I had a pretty successful event just with a couple green mistakes on my behalf. I had learned a lot that weekend and was ready to move on to the next event. The CCI2* at Twin Rivers Spring 3-day would qualify us for the NAJYRC. At this event, Dayna-Lynd Pugh, the Area VI Young Rider coach, coached me to a successful finish with just some time on cross country and 1 rail down in show jumping.

I then gave my horse a couple easy weeks after that show. During that time I flew out to Jersey Fresh to groom for Hawley and Natalia. Hawley and I discussed a plan that would be appropriate for my horse and I leading up to Young Riders. The plan included my horse and I moving back up to Northern California to work with Dayna-Lynd Pugh and Shannon Lilly.

Memorial Day weekend was the last outing for the Area VI Young Riders at The Woodside Horse Trails. Hawley flew out for Woodside to ride and coach. I ran the Intermediate and had my best ever dressage test and score, had an awesome double clear cross country and almost a foot perfect show jump round finishing third.

After Woodside, I went to Dayna and Shannon’s Flying Tail Farms in Gilroy, CA. We had our team training sessions at Flying Tail in mid June where we worked with Dayna.

We just had our annual Young Rider camp at Twin Rivers Ranch at the end of June. It was a great last team preparation before we load the horses onto the plane and head to Kentucky. The thought of representing California (and Hawaii) on a team is one of the most exciting experiences a young rider could have.

After Young Riders my horse will get a few weeks off, then will head back to Southern California and meet back up with Hawley when she gets back from the Olympics in August.

My goals after Young Riders, will be to move up to Advanced in the fall and run the CIC3* next spring!

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