Hunter/Jumper

Watch Alexa Aureliano Embrace Her Inner Annie Oakley

#RiseToTheChallenge

©Shawn McMillen Photography
©Shawn McMillen Photography

Alexa Aureliano of Old Brookville, NY, earned her first major equitation victory on Saturday. Riding Qualitat, a seven-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Heritage Farm, she captured the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals at Capital Challenge Horse Show.

And, in doing so, earned the title “Little Sure Shot of the Capital Challenge.”

Created in 1999, the National Children’s Medal aims to give young riders the opportunity to gain equitation experience at the 3′ height. Presumably, so they can go on to be Big Eq stars and, perhaps, George Morris’s and Beezie Maddens of the future.

There is one unexpected consequence of Medal Final, though.

It puts young riders, like Aureliano, in touch with an edgier side. The Annie Oakley within.

“What?!” you say. “That’s ridiculous. She’s just a kid!”

Sure, on the outside, Aureliano looks—and sounds—like your average, hard-working equitation rider. (She keeps her horses on her farm in Katonah, NY.)

But inside, she’s a sharp shooter. Dangerous (to the competition). Deadly accurate (to the jump). And ready to react on a hair trigger’s notice.

Just watch the way she struts into the ring ready to slay the competition and the course.

Still not convinced?

Don’t be fooled by her youthful face and relaxed demeanour. Come round two, she’s all swagger. Ambling along the range around the ring, taking out the two stride with nary a thought. It’s precisely that brand of quiet confidence that earned her round a 90.

With less than two points separating them, Aureliano would duel rival Camryn Halley for the title.

The ride-off required riders to canter directly to a triple bar, then take a trot fence off a bending line before rolling back to a two-stride line, halting, and finally demonstrating a counter canter over a last vertical—all while performing sharp shooting tricks. With their minds.

Aureliano executed the test seamlessly and clinched the win.

“I can’t even explain my feelings right now,” said the Heritage Farm student. “I’ve been working so hard to accomplish this goal, and it was just accomplished!”

But perhaps it was an inevitable outcome. As Annie Oakley famously said: “Aim at a high mark and you’ll hit it. No, not the first time, nor the second time. Maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect.”

Watch every class of the Capital Challenge on live stream at capitalchallenge.org

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