Two days. Nine clear rounds. Four smiling faces!

USA’s Zone 8/9/10 dominated the Children’s team event in the FEI North American Youth Championships at Traverse City Horse Shows in Michigan, finishing three rounds of competition on a team total of just four faults.

Modelled on the championship format of cumulative faults, the NAYC Children’s team event is made up of three rounds of competition, starting with Wednesday’s one-round speed class and culminating with Thursday’s two round team event.

Zone 8/9/10, represented by Lilah Nakatani, Leila Diab, Jordan Gibbs and Reagan Tomb, took the early lead, with four fault-free rounds on Wednesday and win by Gibbs.

Heading into Thursday’s Nations Cup-style team event, featuring four-rider teams and a drop score, Nakatani (14) and Dianett started Zone 8/9/10 off with four fault performance, following it up with a clear in the second round.

“I knew I had to be clear [in the second round], but I just went around and I wanted a smooth nice round, just staying calm and not even trying to go fast,” shared Nakatani.

“Lilah Nakatani rode beautifully,” said chef d’equipe Susan Hutchinson.©Phelps/Georgie Hammond

Diab and Unang de Kergane followed with a 10 fault performance, but added just four to the score in the second round.

“I had a bit of a hiccup in my first round so I kind of just went into my second [round] trying to get over that and just trying to get him over the jumps. He was a little spooky around the course today, but I finished off really strong and I think it was a nice second round and a way to recover,” said Diab.

“It’s a good example of how this format teaches the riders to come back and fight hard,” said chef d’equipe Susan Hutchinson.

Wednesday’s winner, Gibbs, posted three fault-free rounds aboard Douwe in her NAYC debut.

Jordan Gibbs and Douwe. ©Phelps/Georgie Hammond

With a rail in hand, anchor rider Tomb had to jump clear to secure the win, a rail would force a three-way jump off with Mexico North and Mexico South. And she delivered.

“Our anchor rider, boy, she was tough. Clear both rounds. She left a stride out to the last jump both rounds, which made me a little nervous, but I guess she knew what she was doing,” smiled Hutchinson.

©Phelps/Georgie Hammond

“They were magnificent. I couldn’t have been prouder of all of them and they all pulled together as a team, which is as it should be—one backing up the other.”

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