The last time Christian Simonson (USA Region 7) contested the individual test at the FEI North American Youth Dressage Championships, he was disqualified.

On Saturday, he and Zeaball Diawind, his partner of two years, rode away with a personal best score of 75.353% and the gold medal in the Young Rider division.

“I’m proud,” Simonson shared.

“When I was on the podium, I was thinking about the fact that the last time I rode the individual test at a NAYC, I was disqualified, and thinking about that and the fact that I’m here now with a different horse, one that we’ve brought up and shown step by step, and I’ve been a part of the whole process, and to be able to redeem myself in that individual test was an amazing feeling.”

©US Equestrian
©US Equestrian

For the 19-year-old, who trains with American Olympian Adrienne Lyle, it’s his second gold medal of the week—and the fifth of his NAYC career.

Simonson firsted contested the championship at age 13, winning the Mary E. Seddon award for the rider with the most classical seat and hands. In 2017, he claimed team gold and individual silver with FRH Rassolini. The following year, team silver.

He credits Saturday’s individual gold to the relaxed ride given by his nine-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding.

“He felt the calmest he’s ever felt in the trot tour, and coming off of the back of the European tour, I felt that the individual test was something I didn’t do a good enough job in, yesterday with the tempi changes I had a hard time counting, today that was a bit better, so I was happy about that. The whole test felt calm and felt that he was with me. Having that level of trust with him was rewarding,” said Simonson.

The silver medal went to NAYC first timer and fellow Region 7 rider, Miki Yang aboard Donavan, who rode to 69.294%. Tillie Jones and Qi Gong TF took the bronze medal with 68.588%.

Young Rider competition at NAYC concludes tomorrow, August 15, with the FEI Junior Freestyle Championship and the FEI Young Rider Freestyle Championship. Catch all the action on