Region 3 Young Riders Win Team Gold at 2023 FEI North American Youth Dressage Championships
Dressage competition started with a bang at the 2023 FEI North American Youth Dressage Championships presented by USDF, with the Young Riders and U25 divisions completing their team tests on Wednesday at Flintfields Horse Park.
In the Young Rider division, a total of 22 combinations representing six teams entered the arena for their first tests of this year’s NAYC. The Region 3 team proved dominant, earning a team total of 212.353 to take the gold medal. The combined team from Regions 4 and 7 won the silver medal with a team total of 203.118. The Regions 1/2/9 combined team finished in a close third-place position to take home bronze with a total score of 197.824.
Mary Claire Piller and Caterina, Emily Brollier’s 2011 Hanoverian mare, had the highest individual score of the day, posting a 71.706% for the Region 3 team. Piller was the last to go for her team and handled the pressure to turn in a clean test.
“I try not to think too much about the pressure or the medal, just going and putting down a clean test and doing as well with my horse as I can,” said Piller. “If you think too much about the pressure and the medal, it’ll all fall apart. But if you think about the overall and just being good to your horse, it all comes together.”
Piller was on the gold-medal-winning team at NAYC in 2022 and said the second consecutive victory felt vindicating.
“This is a very difficult sport, and you never know,” she said. “Some days you come out and it’s amazing, and some days you come out and you think, ‘Maybe I should not ride again.’ It’s nice to come in and see the work that you put in paying off. It feels very good.”
Piller’s Region 3 teammate, Kat Fuqua, had the day’s second-best score of 70.882% with her own 2008 KWPN mare, Dreamgirl. Fuqua and Dreamgirl earned junior bronze medals at their last NAYC outing in 2021, and their debut at the Young Rider level was a huge success.