Dressage – Claire Robinson Wins Inaugural U25 Freestyle Grand Prix

Saturday evening brought a special treat for spectators at Flintfields Horse Park as the inaugural NAYC U25 Freestyle Championship took place. Eight combinations performed their freestyles for the judging panel, and for many of them, it was an early experience in their FEI Grand Prix career.

Claire Robinson and Glamour Boy in the dressage arena at NAYC.

Claire Robinson (CAN) and Glamour Boy. (Andrew Ryback Photography)

Claire Robinson of Canada was the final entry on the order, and with Glamour Boy, a 2011 KWPN gelding owned by Carol Robinson, she put down the best test of the evening, earning a 71.090 from the judges and the gold medal.

“I’ve not ridden this freestyle too many times, and of course every time you learn something a little bit new about the pattern and how you’re riding it,” said Robinson. “When I finally came to that final halt, I just looked back and was like, ‘I think that was everything. I think it all happened!’ It was a really good feeling on that final centerline where I knew he was with me, and I felt that I had had him with me for the whole test. It was really awesome.”

Robinson’s freestyle is set to music from Hamilton, which she chose to fit her horse.

“We had to find something that would really suit him. He’s sort of a tall, elegant horse, and I really loved the music,” she said. “This is a horse that I finished to the level myself, so I’m a little bit green at the level and he’s a little bit green at the level. I just really wanted [a floorplan] I felt like could play to his strengths a little bit, and where I could really produce a clean test and that worked out today.”

Fellow Canadian Brooke Mancusi placed 4th riding Jill Irving’s Arthur with 67.810%.

Other Top-10 Dressage Canadian Placings:

Young Rider Freestyle Championship
4. Fortissimo, Kiara Williams-Brown 71.480 %
5. Fabienna GV, Anna Swackhammer 69.795 %
6. Forget-Me-Not, Kathryn Robinson 69.480 %

Jr Freestyle Championship
10. Slapstick, Alison Campbell-Wright 69.655 %


Will Martin and Ricore Courcelle jumping a fence at NAYC.

Will Martin and Ricore Courcelle had the best result for the Canadian YR team and also placed 3rd individually. (Andrew Ryback Photography)

Jumping – Canada Captures Gold In Young Rider Team Competition

Canada waved their flag proudly on team day of the Gotham North FEI North American Youth Championships, presented by USHJA, on Friday afternoon. The four team riders in the Young Rider category, William Martin, Quintyn Werner Baeumler, Lily Elliot, and Halle Duke, put in the strongest overall performance over the two rounds, sealing the deal for the gold medal in the Team Final.

2023 marks the first time in many years that Canada has won the gold at NAYC in this category, which made the riders and their chef d’equipe, Dayton Gorsline, tremendously proud. They had to earn the win, too, as Nick Granat’s (USA) courses for the day were demanding and few were able to jump clear. Fault-free rounds from Duke and Martin as the leading and anchor riders, respectively, kept them on the lowest score.

“I think any time you can represent your home country it’s a big deal,” Martin, who took an individual gold medal in the 2022 Junior section, remarked. “Canadians really take pride in that. This is a show we look forward to all year long mainly because we get to represent our home country. To bring back a medal means a lot.”

Duke leaned on her partnership with Ilana to come through and jump clear for the team, even after an unexpected break in competition due to weather conditions.

“I’ve had this horse for four years this week actually,” she said of her horse. “We are pretty much best friends. She jumped incredibly today and the second round I gave her the ride she deserved and she jumped clear for me. This is my second year coming here and it’s amazing, every part of it. To be able to represent your own country is incredible.”

Watch an interview with Halle Duke:

Baeumler knows he and his teammates are inching closer to representing Canada on a grander stage. “Being on a Canadian team is wonderful and the team we have here is one of the best,” he shared. “Everyone is kind, caring, and works really hard. I’m thankful to have such a great team behind me and this is the one step before the senior teams. We’re all looking forward to that and we’ll all be working hard for that day.”

On the final day of competition, William Martin rode to 3rd place overall in the Young Rider Individual Final with the 18-year-old Ricore Courcelle.

“The last track was nice,” Martin said of the course that produced a few more clears than the one immediately before it. “It suited my horse with a big stride so we kept it going there. He was jumping out of his skin. He’s 18 years old, so we need to pick and choose our shows with him, but to be honest he just keeps getting better.”

Martin admits that Ricore Courcelle, his gold medal-winning ride in the 2022 Junior category of NAYC, has put him on the map.

“I got the ride on him two years ago and he was the horse to take me to the top level,” Martin continued. “We got along very well and he’s also been a great trainer for me. Now that I’m riding him much better, he’s giving me these clear rounds and winning me these medals. He’s won three medals in the last two years. He’s gone above and beyond our expectations so we praise him for that.”

Other Top-10 Jumping Canadian Placings:

Jr/YR Farewell
6. Mauna Lani , Olivia Blaber

Pre-Jr Individual Final
8. Coradi, Livia Martin

Pre-Jr Team Final
4th – Canada

Complete results here.

~ with files from Traverse City Horse Shows