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Ohio Equestrian Team Makes History at YEDA National Championships

Concord Equestrian Team, a competitive horseback riding team based out of JD Show Horses in Delaware, Ohio, rode into the history books when they competed at the Youth Equestrian Development Association, Inc. National Championship Show.

After two days of competition at the Tri-State Expo Center in McDonald, Tennessee, the Concord Equestrian middle school and high school teams were crowned national champions in their divisions. This marked the first time in YEDA history one team had clinched both the middle and high school titles.

“I was shocked,” Daniels said. “I am super proud of our team. This year, we made a goal board; all riders wrote personal goals and quotes. I think because they talked about and set those goals, we made it happen. We manifested it. It was just such a cool feeling.”

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Concord Equestrian Team was founded in 2012 by head coaches Aaron Jordan and Jessica Daniels, owner of JD Show Horses. Daniels said the 2023-24 team was Concord Equestrian’s largest, with 27 riders, including 14 high school riders, 11 middle school riders, and two elementary school riders.

YEDA is an equestrian association with a catch-riding format that eliminates the horse-ownership requirement for participants of all ages and skill levels. Instead of competing on their horses, riders are randomly assigned horses the hosting team provides to show in horsemanship, reining, and ranch riding events.

Daniels said the catch riding program challenges the sport of showing horses. Each horse is trained slightly differently and has a unique personality, meaning no horse will be the same for each rider. However, Daniels said the challenges of catch riding do ultimately benefit riders.

“It helps build a person,” Daniels said. “You must have some dedication, patience, timing, and work ethic to be good at showing horses, especially with catch riding when you’re riding horses you don’t know. Being able to overcome and accept the challenges of catch riding is huge in terms of growing riders and people in the program.”

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Throughout the year, teams nationwide compete in regular-season competitions, gaining points based on individual and team placings. For a rider to qualify for the YEDA National Championship, they must be in the top 20% of riders nationwide in their division regarding points earned. Likewise, teams must be in the top 20% of teams nationwide based on points earned in team competition throughout the year to qualify.

“Our team had 23 riders qualify as individuals, and both the high school and middle school teams qualified,” Daniels said.

Not only did the Concord Equestrian Team rank among the top 20% of teams in the nation, but by the end of the YEDA National Championship, they could call themselves the best team.

Daniels said the camaraderie between teammates was a difference-maker throughout the team competition at the national championship.

“They all worked together,” Daniels said. “They all cheered for each other and supported each other. That’s where I think we separate ourselves; the team is a team. It’s not just one individual. They are all there for each other. It’s really fun to watch.”

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Along with the team titles, Concord Equestrian Team riders brought home seven individual national championship titles, one reserve national championship title, more than 20 top-ten placings, and six finalist recognitions. Concord Equestrian Team’s Carly Heiss was also named the 2024 YEDA Queen after a competition season, an interview, a YEDA knowledge test, and an essay competition. Heiss will serve as an ambassador for YEDA until the 2025 National Championship.

Even though the 2023-24 YEDA season has ended, Daniels said the Team’s work hasn’t stopped. The 2024-25 season will commence in September, and the Concord Equestrian Team is set on another successful season.

“We had three seniors, so those girls are going off to college programs in the fall,” Daniels said. “We are working on getting our team ready for next season without those three awesome seniors. They are still practicing, and we will have official team sign-ups in August. We’ll start team practices and boot camps after that.”

Interested in joining Concord Equestrian Team for the 2024-25 season? Registration will begin August 18. To participate on the team, riders must take a weekly riding lesson at JD Show Horses and help with team activities. Additional details can be found at www.jdshowhorses.com and https://showyeda.com.

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