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British Youth of the Year Visits America

Posted October 4, 2001
On May 12th, after the finals of the British Morgan Horse Society Youth of the Year competition Angela Conner-Bulmer announced that Christina Robinson was the winner and would be awarded the prize of a month in the USA visiting Morgan Horse farms.

Robinson arrived in Boston, Massachusetts on a rainy, grey July 17th. She was met at the airport by Erin Collins, herself a past AMHA Youth of the Year. Over the following days she enjoyed riding dressage as well as saddle seat on horses including Syndicat Legaltender.

On the Friday Robinson traveled to The New England Morgan Horse Show held in Northampton, Mass. She added, "It is the largest and most competitive show apart from the Nationals and was without question the most amazing show I've ever been to. The number of entries was roughly nine times the number of Morgan show horses in the whole of Britain and the quality and degree of perfection to which the majority of the horses were trained was astounding."

On Sunday all of Erin Collins' students took part in the New England Youth Contest which Collins organizes. Robinson remembered, "It was similar to the ones we hold in England, although many more people were involved, and I liked the way it was held all on one day - ours stretches on for months. That evening there was a barbecue and Awards Ceremony and my new friends all did very well, particularly Liz Conner who got first in the Junior test and Lauren Opachinski who was overall Junior Champion.

"All too soon it was time to say good-bye to my first hosts and to meet my hosts for the rest of the show, Karen Bobbi and Hunter's Glen Morgans. Karen runs a farm in Connecticut and does both Hunt Seat and Saddle Seat, although at both shows I stayed with them, most of the horses were hunters. I soon made great friends with some of the girls from Karen's barn and we all had fun camping out in the deluxe horse trailer. I enjoyed seeing how similar the preparations were for the show ring, Americans suffer from pre-show nerves too! It was so exciting to be able to watch people I knew compete well at such a high level.

"I think NEMHS remained the highlight of my trip, despite the incredible heat and the torrential downpour which followed it! The last night of the show I joined Stonegate Farm and the atmosphere for the championship classes was truly electric. I loved the Park Saddle class and it was great to be able to see more of one of the entries, CPM Sabrina, at Stonegate.

"But perhaps for me the most moving part of the show was Nobility's retirement ceremony. It was an enormous privilege to watch this amazing horse parade in the show ring for the last time, and it is a memory I shall never forget.

"Carol Manchester of Stonegate Farm took me home from the show to Rhode Island. This was especially exciting for me as one of her daughters, Chelsea Bailey, had introduced me to Saddle Seat riding when she was working at the Foundation Farm in England two years ago. Stonegate wasn't at all as I'd expected! The atmosphere was totally relaxed and informal and everyone was really friendly and willing to answer my questions. I spent a lot of time watching Rick Stevens train and learned masses from that. I was also lucky enough to get some lessons from him which really made a difference to both my riding and my understanding of horses and how they act!

"From Stonegate I traveled to Janbark Farm which is home to Equitation Unlimited. Within half an hour of arriving I was having an equitation lesson from Jean DeGutis, and I really didn't stop having lessons until I left! I left with an infinitely better understanding of equitation.

"My last stop was the Massachusetts Morgan Horse Show. This show lived up to its reputation as being a fun show, with a centerpiece fitting for this year's theme of Heroes and Legends. It was great to see so many decorated boxes around the ring with each barn's take on the title.

"My month in America was a truly remarkable experience. I learned so much more about Morgans in that short space of time than ever before in my life. I was part of a different culture, a different country, with many different people, all of whom are now my friends. I would like to thank the organizers of the trip for such an interesting program, and everyone who made sure I had such a fantastic time."

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