Saugerties, N.Y. — You can always hear when a show jumper is in the ring. They woah. They cluck. They hopefully don’t knock any rails.
But Nicole Meyer Robredo’s final course at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships proved you can’t hear everything that goes on between a rider and their horse.
“I talked to him the entire course. I was praying,” she said.
Those prayers — and hard work — paid off. Robredo and VH Hercule End House won the individual junior jumpers aboard at the NAJYRC, bringing home the gold for Team Mexico. Team USA’s Hannah Loly claimed silver on Ayma De La Demi Lune, and Briley Koerner took home bronze on For Jef VD Wezelse.
After coming in eighth at last year’s NAJYRC, Robredo said she spent the last year focused on this one big goal. She got a new trainer and made sacrifices in her personal life, training harder than ever.
It’s been the biggest challenge and biggest accomplishment of Robredo’s three years with Hercule.
“I made him, literally,” Robredo said, “We’ve grown up together, and he really surprised me this time.”
Meanwhile, Loly showed a horse she’s only had for a two months. But that adaptability proved useful as the pair tackled the course.
After a lucky rub at a jump in the first round, Loly was able to refocus her approach for her next two courses.
Those show-stopping courses almost didn’t happen. After a rough round earlier in the season at HITS Thermal, Loly almost bowed out for the season. But she stuck the course, was able to qualify for the NAJYRC, and eventually ended up on the podium.
Koerner also rode a relatively new horse in this competition. Despite being together for only a few months, though, she’s already fallen in love with Seth’s cheeky personality.
“He comes out of his stall always ready to jump his heart out for me,” she said. “He was a little tired in the warm-up ring, but every time we stepped into the show ring, he pepped right up.”
For Koerner, finding success meant not overthinking the course. She said she rode every stride individually rather than looking at the course as a whole.
“You have to work bit by bit, and the outcome will work itself out,” Koerner explained.
It’s how she tackles a course — how she tackles riding itself.
Robredo reinforced the “work” part of Koerner’s advice, especially when asked to share her strategy with younger riders.
“You need to train every day, harder, and work from your mistakes to be a better rider,” Robredo said.
After all, hard work was her strategy — and she proved it pays off.
But that didn’t stop her teammates from fulfilling their Team Mexico tradition: A dunk in the water jump after her win.