Although 19-year-old Nancy Pratch had previously competed at the North American Junior Young Rider Championships in horse reining, she still wasn’t expecting to achieve the success that she managed to achieve this year in Lexington, Kentucky.
Competitors and their horses from across North America travelled to Lexington to compete in the championship event at the end of July, and when Pratch was awarded the gold medal along with being named the SmartPak North American Young Rider Individual Champion, she admits “it was definitely a surprise, a pleasant surprise at that.”
On July 31, Pratch, who is from St. Paul, managed to beat out last year’s gold medalist and fellow Canadian, Darcy Wilson, by less than two points.
But, the individual gold medal was not the only one Pratch received at this year’s North American Junior Young Rider Championship. The Alberta Reining Team also won gold on July 29.
From a list of 20 competitors representing six regions throughout North America, Team Alberta “handily won the competition with a score of 629.5,” according to information from the Alberta Equestrian Federation website. The team was made up of Chloe Beveridge of Calgary, who Pratch has known for a number of years, along with Kaylynn Malmberg of Carseland, Sage Sapergia of Cochrane, and of course, Pratch.
Team Alberta finished three points ahead of the silver medalists, USA – East Team. The bronze medal was awarded to the USA – West Team.
“The team competition was a very tight, exciting display of power and horsemanship,” says Wendy Dyer, the Chef d’equipe for all four Canadian teams competing, according to the information on the federation website. “Everyone did their best and showed their maturity and skill.”
Over the course of the event there were about 2,000 horses on the ground, competing in various events, explains Pratch. She gives much of the credit for her success to the horse she currently leases, Rooster Kicker.
“I have a great horse underneath me,” says Pratch, adding, “I was very fortunate to have come across the horse that I did for this competition.”
Pratch’s parents also took the opportunity to travel to Kentucky to watch their daughter compete. She explains that her parents may have been a little worried while Pratch was warming up, but “I tried to keep a level headed mind.”
Although she may not have appeared to be “in the zone,” she concentrated on her own game, which certainly paid off.
“To have done consistency well throughout the whole competition, that was just awesome,” says Pratch, who also credits her mentors who have helped her during the past four years for much of her success. The support of a number of different people has also helped her along the way.
Although she certainly plans on continuing to rein and train, Pratch is unsure of what her next big goal is. Winning two gold medals at the Adequan FEI North American Junior Young Rider Championships is “a pretty big high.”
For now, Pratch will enjoy the rest of her summer before going to Camrose where she attends Augustana University as a kinesiology student.