The 1.30m Pre-Junior division made its debut this year at the North American Youth Championships, hosted by Traverse City Horse Shows in Michigan. But the rider currently leading is no stranger to the format.

Mia Albelo has twice contested the Children’s division at NAYC. This year, the 16-year-old is taking no prisoners in the Pre-Junior division at NAYC.

Albelo took the win in Wednesday’s speed round aboard Cocominka EST, topping a 30-horse field to help put Zone 4 into second position.

On Thursday, they bumped it to pole position. Kick off rider in the Pre-Junior Team event—the only NAYC seasoned rider on the squad that also included Caia Watridge, Trinity Beitler, and Lawson Whitaker—she led Zone 4 to gold with another two double clear rounds about her 10-year-old bay mare.

“My horse, Coco jumped incredible today and I could not be happier with her performance and especially our results. Everyone, all four of us gave it our all, our horses gave it their all and we truly came together. And I’m so, so happy right now to be wearing this gold medal around my neck.”

Trinity Beitler and Coconut (aka ‘Nutty”). ©Phelps/Allyson Lagiovane
Lawson Whitaker with Brownie and Cream. ©Andrew Ryback
Caia Watridge and Iselle “Izzy” van Orshof. ©Andrew Ryback

All four riders from Zone 4 contributed clear rounds to the win. Beitler and Coconut (aka ‘Nutty”) were fault-free in round one, with Watridge and Iselle “Izzy” van Orshof and Whitaker with Brownie and Cream posting a pair of duck eggs in the second round.

“They came together beautifully to work together as a team,” said chef d’equipe Kim Land. “All of them contributed to the team score and it was very tight going into the last round today and they pulled it out with three players. So it is really a huge team effort and we’re so excited for them and the future of the sport because of them.”

Come Saturday, all team bets are off. Albelo sits atop the leaderboard heading into the Pre-Junior individual final.

“I am both nervous and excited for the rest of the week. I have a good amount of pressure to stay at the top, of course, but everyone here is so, so talented. Everyone deserves a spot here. And everyone is so competitive and anyone can take the lead at any moment,” she shared.

“So I’m thankful to be in that spot right now. I hope to keep it, but I will keep jumping my best. My horse will keep jumping her best and we’ll try and get another gold medal.”

View the full results here and catch all of the NAYC action live on USEF Network here. (Use promo code ‘nayc21’ for a free fan membership.)