From Junior Hunter Finals to NAYC and U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions: Wunderkind Kat Fuqua

USEF 2021 National Junior Hunter Grand Champion Kat Fuqua and Grand Remo with trainer Jimmy Torano. Photo by Anne Gittins Photography

Atlanta, GA (September 14, 2021) – Claiming an FEI or USEF National Championship is hard enough in one discipline, let alone multiple. But this summer 13-year-old Kat Fuqua accomplished just that, winning the overall Grand Champion at the 2021 Adequan®/USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – East Coast and claiming the 2021 Adequan/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship. Proving her multi-dimensional talents, Fuqua was also the first rider in the history of the FEI North American Youth Championships (NAYC) to compete in two disciplines — show jumping and dressage — and claimed three Bronze Medals at the prestigious event.

Fuqua credits her success to an adherence to classical riding principles in all three of her disciplines, and especially enjoys schooling her FEI dressage mare bareback. Under the tutelage of hunter/jumper Jimmy Torano of JET Show Stable and Bronze Olympic Medalist Michelle Gibson, Fuqua splits her riding time between her USEF 2020 Horse of the Year hunters Grand Remo and Consent, her equitation horse Ittyville, FEI dressage mare Dream Girl, and show jumper Gargarin.

2021 Adequan®/USEF Junior Hunter National Championship – East Coast

Fuqua and Grand Remo were named overall Grand Champion this July in the Dixon Oval of the Devon Horse Show Grounds besting more than 300 entries. Competing in the Large Junior 3’6” Hunter U15 division, Fuqua and Grand Remo impressed the judges from the very beginning. The 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding jumped with style and grace to a first-place finish in the Classic round. Fuqua and Grand Remo continued their winning ways, strutting their way to first in the under saddle and demonstrating their adjustability and handiness in the second round of competition, earning them second place in the handy round and the overall title. She also took Reserve in the 3’6″ Hunters with her small Junior HunterConsent, and to bring her competitive equestrian endeavors full circle, Fuqua also showed Ittyville in the equitation, finishing 7th out of 132 entries.

“Remo is my Large Junior Hunter that we got about two years ago,” said Fuqua. “He has been so amazing. He is just the best mover and I have had so much fun riding him. He is really sweet and he has been very successful in the 3’6” divisions in 2020 and 2021. I was actually very nervous going into the handy because I had won the hack and the classic, so it was a lot of pressure! I wanted to be champion so I was really focused on the trot jump because I always mess up the trot jump or chip the trot jump, so that was our main focus and Remo was perfect! My Reserve Small Junior Consent, aka Kent, did not disappoint either, winning the under saddle and taking 2nd and 3rd over fences. I’m so proud of both of them.”

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Fuqua and Gargarin at the 2021 NAYC. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

2021 FEI North American Youth Championships

Fuqua rode her jumper, Gargarin, with the Region 4 Team at the FEI NAYC held in Traverse City, Michigan. The pair placed 4th with 3 clear rounds and came in 10th individually in the FEI 1.20M, equivalent to about 4 feet. Fuqua and her dressage mare Dream Girl put in nearly flawless rides to earn three NAYC Bronze Medals in the Team, Individual and Freestyle competition. “I picked my Freestyle music earlier this year, and chose the Harry Potter soundtrack!” said Fuqua. “I had so much fun and to get on the podium was like being at the Olympic Games. It couldn’t have been better.”

Fuqua only recently began competing in show jumping early in 2021 and dressage early in 2020, seamlessly integrating between all three disciplines.

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USEF Junior Dressage Champion Kat Fuqua and Dream Girl

2021 USEF Dressage Festival of Champions

In August Fuqua once again earned a National Championship title, this time in the Junior Dressage division. Coming off a good showing at the FEI North American Youth Championships two weeks prior, Kat Fuqua and DreamGirl got their Festival of Champions off to a great start in the Adequan/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship, scoring a 70.95 percent in the Junior team test.

“I was really confident going in,” said Fuqua. “DreamGirl was absolutely amazing, she was very on the aids, and I was happy with it. She’s very sweet; I have a lot of fun with her. I love riding her bareback. I started in the Children’s division here last year, and we were third overall. We’ve just been playing around with the Juniors and having a good time.”