What a Ride: Martone Makes Young Rider Championship Team
So far the summer of 2009 is proving to be a milestone in Alex Martone's life.
Eighteen-year-old Martone recently graduated from the O'Neal School and is headed to Appalachian State University in the fall. Add another layer of achievement to the list. Martone made the team for the United States Area II CCI** (Two Star) FEI (Fdration questre Internationale) North American Junior and Young Rider's Championship to be held July 21-26 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. Martone is the only rider from North Carolina to make the team in the sport of eventing.
Martone's horse, Copperfield, is somewhat deceptive, like the illusionist David Copperfield. By Martone's own admission, a casual observer wouldn't peg Copperfield as a horse capable of higher level eventing. "Someone wouldn't look at him (Copperfield) and think he is talented. He's not flashy but he has the best attitude of any horse ever," said Martone.
Martone started riding at age 4. Her lifelong goal is to ride at the Intermediate level. She joined the Young Riders' program three years ago and was a member of the Championship team last year with her current mount. This year Martone has moved up a division to Intermediate. It hasn't been a cake walk. The 13-year-old Thoroughbred came with some issues when Martone purchased him three years ago.
"Sometimes I think it's tough for Copper. He has problems with straightness," said Martone. "If you think about it, it's all this preparation for only 15 minutes of competition."
Martone competed in her first two-star CIC in the spring in Chattahoochee, Ga. Her score at that competition qualified her for the Young Riders' team. "I didn't know if my horse would go Intermediate but he did and he was good," said Martone. "I'm really excited to be on the team."
The Area II team, which pulls riders ages 14-21 years from Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia, will face a bit of pressure from the get-go. Usually a team consists of four riders from which the best of three scores is taken. Due to an injury to a team horse, one rider is unable to compete. Besides Martone, the other two riders to make the team are Kate Samuels from Charlottesville, Va. and Alyssa Peterson from Waldorf, Md. The team has been in Southern Pines the past week receiving coaching from David and Lauren O'Brien. The team will be shipping out to Kentucky July 20.
As far as the future is concerned, the sky is the limit for Martone. If her horse will go higher (Advanced) she's ready to tackle the challenge. Asked what it is that draws Martone to the sport of eventing, she answered, "I really like the relationship between horse and rider. You can't do it without that. The sport doesn't single out any particular breed of horse -- there are lots of different breeds taking part in the sport. And it's a sport you can take part in your whole life."
Many of North America's best equestrians got their start at the North American Junior and Young Riders' Championship (NAJYRC) including Olympic medalists Greg Best, Karen Lende O'Connor, Chris Kappler and McLain Ward, as well as Alison Firestone, Nicole Shahinian Simpson, Ray Texel, Chris Pratt, Frankie Chesler, Lisa Carlsen Lubitz, Harold Chopping, Martina Pracht, Kathleen Raine, Heather Mason, David Wilson, Gwyneth MacPherson, Tiffani Loudon, Buck Davidson, Abigail Lufkin, Missy Ransehousen, Mara DePuy, Molly Bliss, and Julie Gomena.
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