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Pia Fortmuller is Canada’s Golden Girl… Amber Heintzberger reports for PhelpsSports.com
Lexington, VA—August 4, 2006 - Canada’s reign in the Young Riders Dressage Championship continued in the individual competition at the NAJYRC when Pia Fortmuller on Donagna topped the field with a score of 69.5, adding the individual gold medal to the collection she started on Wednesday when her team won gold. With the scores posted on the electronic display, the crowd knew that Fortmuller’s ride was a good one. Her coach, Albrecht Heidemann, clasped his hands in front of his face as he waited for her final result, and when it was announced that she was the new leader he and her teammates started to jump around for joy as Fortmuller and Donagna left the arena.
There were still several horses to go, but no one quite bested her score. Bobbie Lynn McKee of Cave Creek, AZ came close riding Jamelone, her 15-year-old Dutch gelding, but an error in her test placed her in second by just one tenth of a point with 69.4. McKean knew that her error would cost her and left the arena shaking her head, but she was all smiles as she accepted her silver medal.
17-year-old Caroline Roffman of Region V and her flashy chestnut Hannoverian gelding Bulgari V placed fifth with 68.15 per cent, after a polished performance that showed off the horse’s bold movement.
Roffmann has been riding for nine years and has been in training with Silke Rembacz for the past five years. She competed as a Junior for two years and moved up to Young Riders this year. She has been riding Bulgari V for two years.
Fortmuller’s mother Dagmar, herself a rider, said that her daughter earned her success. “It was a lot of hard work, and you have to keep your feet on the ground and keep working meeting the goals,” she said. “The horse is a homebred and is self trained, so it has been a long process.” A native of Hannover, Germany, Fortmuller now lives in Calgary, AL, Canada. Pia is a student in Vancouver, British Columbia where she is studying psychology.
“I got shivers down my back during my ride,” said Pia. “My mare was very consistent and I was very pleased with her.” Donagna, an 11-year-old Hannovarian mare was bred by Fortmuller’s grandmother, Ursula Bahlsen and has been Fortmuller’s riding partner for the past six years.
Judge Gabriel Armando, a native of Argentina who now resides in Flemington, NJ, commented on Fortmuller’s ride, “It was a very steady test with no mistakes. It was a clean ride and the horse is very expressive.”
Armando pointed out that the NAYRC is an FEI competition and the judging is no less critical since the riders are under 21. He said, “Like any other FEI competition we can’t relax the standards.”
The results, he said, were impressive. “This is a good example of how the situation is in North America,” he said. “There are good riders, horses and trainers here. This competition gives kids the inventive to keep training. They’ve all done very well with the heat, too – and since every big competition is in hot weather, this is a fantastic way of preparing them.”
The 2006 NAJYRC is supported by its Title Sponsor, CN, and is also supported by this year’s Platinum Sponsors — Howard and Martha Simpson. Gold Medal Sponsors are the United States Equestrian Federation, Equine Canada and Zone 4. Full Results are available at www.youngriders.org