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Meet the USDF Region Juniors and Young Riders

We are lucky to have many talented up and coming riders in Region 5. Please take a few moments to get to know some of our youth!

Claire Gunther

Claire has been obsessed with horses since she first became aware that horses exist! Despite a serious horse allergy, she started riding at the age of 5. She competed in local 4H shows, played in the fields with her like-minded friends and helped her family purchase, learn about and care for a few horses at home. When she was fourteen, she became fascinated by the grace and skill involved in dressage. After much thought and planning, she decided to sell her pony and with that money and the help of her family was able to purchase her first dressage horse.

Claire has been training with David MacMillan since the fall of 2018. She has taken online classes so she could get out of school early to train 4-5 days per week. She found dressage to be challenging, especially with a diagnosis of ADHD, and rewarding as she began to learn and improve her connection with her horse. In 2019 at the age of fifteen, Claire earned her bronze medal on her first dressage horse, Dario. She and Dario went to Regionals in Colorado where they came in 4th place at Third Level. Claire was the 2019 JR/YR Champion at Third level in Utah.

In 2020, Claire was hoping to qualify for NAYC but the pandemic and a lack of shows in Utah changed that goal. Instead, she focused on continuing to learn. She showed Prix St. George for the first time on her new horse Breezy. In 2021, Claire earned her silver medal and qualified for and participated at NAYC in Michigan. She also was Champion for the YR Team Test at the 2021 Regionals in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She was the Region 5 Reserve Champion for dressage seat equitation as well.

Claire is also passionate about art, business, and weightlifting and plans to attend college in the fall of 2022. She hopes to continue her dressage training in any way possible and would love to be involved with the YR program in the future.

Nadine Lurz

I would like to introduce myself, Nadine Lurz, 18 years old. I have always had a passion for horses since my first pony ride as a kid. Although, I didn't get a horse until I was 11, a beautiful tiny Arabian as a gift for my birthday.
I have done many different disciplines with horses, from endurance to IEA jumping to Western Dressage. The finesse of Classical Dressage has always intrigued me. Since I graduated just before turning 16, I decided to take online college courses and I started my Journey as a working student for Sara Storch Equestrian 2 years ago. Shortly afterwards, she found me B Special (Hans) who had come in as a sales horse. I never dreamed I would get my Bronze and make it to NAYC 2021 as a Junior Rider so quickly. It wasn't even on the radar for me yet. I am excited to step up my game and try for Young Riders for 2022.
I am currently in Wellington, FL working as a working student for George Williams. I could not pass up the opportunity to have coaching from him along with learning how the business works in a larger scope.
With aspirations of becoming a professional in the Dressage world, I take my riding, horses, health and fitness very seriously, as well as continuing my education and learning as much as I can about running a business and the work that goes in to being a professional. It doesn't leave room for much else.

Katherine Nayak

I, Katie Nayak, am a Junior rider from Tucson, Arizona. I've been riding since I was old enough to stand, but I started riding dressage when I was 6 years old on a Craigslist Haflinger pony. When I was 11, I received my bronze medal on my pony! When I was 12, I competed in the Dressage Seat Medal Finals 13 & under at Festival of Champions. In 2021, I competed with my horse, Gaspacho, at NAYC with Region 5. Together, we made it to freestyles and got 11th place out of 18 riders. I know I can do better. I qualified for Seat Medal Finals 14-18 in 2022. My major goal right now is to qualify for NAYC again, and to make it into the top 10, if not the medals. Right now, I am a Junior in high school and my favorite subject is Latin. I'm in AP Latin, and Roman History this year (2021). I've traveled to Italy to see surviving Roman architecture and extant manuscripts. Languages and etymology are super interesting to me. Outside of riding, I like to play video games, go to the gym, and practice yoga. Keeping fit and working out is one of my favorite things to do. Other than that, my life is taken up by my horses!

Elizabeth Petersen

Hi! My name is Elizabeth Petersen and I am a Young Rider from Elbert, Colorado. I have been riding horses for as long as I can remember. When I first started riding and competed, I began in the barrel racing world, and then moved to dressage when I was about 8 years old. As of now, I have received both my USDF Bronze and Silver medals and am schooling my current horse, Brownie, at the Prix St. George and Intermediate 1 levels. Through the years, I have ridden a couple of different “wonder” ponies and eventually transitioned to horses when I was about 13. In 2021, I competed at the North American Youth Championships in the Junior Division with my wonderful gelding Simba, who is a 22 year old KWPN (You would never guess that he is 22 though!). This was an experience like no other and I enjoyed every last second of it. I had in previous years tried to qualify for the prestigious competition, but it was either too far of a haul or I was just not fully ready to meet the qualification requirements. For the 2022 show season, I plan on showing Brownie, a 13 year Westfalen, the Prix St. George/Young Rider tests and hopefully the I1 at the end of the show season. The ultimate goal is to qualify for NAYC, kick some butt, and make Region 5 proud!!

Besides being an avid dressage rider, I enjoy spending time in the barn and on the farm, reading, volunteering, teaching, and playing the flute. My family lives on an 80 acre property with plenty of animals, so there is always a project needing to be done. I personally enjoy doing farm work because it is a nice way to plug in music and ignore the outside world. Some of my favorite book genres include horror, biographical, romance, adventure, and science, while my favorite authors are Stephen Hawking, Stephen King, and Maria V. Snyder. Volunteering has always been one of my favorite hobbies, and during the fall of 2020, I began volunteering at a therapeutic riding center and I love it! Along with volunteering with individuals with disabilities, I enjoy teaching kids of all ages how to take care of horses and ride. My family has two amazing ponies at home that I teach kids on. I have been playing the flute for about 7 years now and it is one the best parts of my life, besides dressage of course! Currently, I am wanting to pursue a degree in electrical engineering with an emphasis in the aerospace/aeronautics industry; I will be graduating high school in the spring of 2022 and beginning my college journey in the fall of 2022 (YAY!!).

USDF Region 5
webmaster@usdfregion5.org

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