By: Violet Forbes on Oct. 21st, 2017

Caroline Michele Dugas, 16, of Birmingham, Ala., was in the clouds after taking the victory on Skyfall in the $10,000 North American League (NAL) Children's Jumper Final, sponsored by Equifit, at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, presented by The Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund. 

"It's very exciting. I cried when I realized that I won. It's incredible," said Dugas. "I have the best horse in the whole world, he's amazing."

The top 27 in the nation who qualified for the Final rode in reverse order of ranking, with the ten clear rounds moving forward to the jump-off. Four horse and rider combinations negotiated double clears on the Bernardo Cabral-designed course. The first to go clear was Lauren Miller, 16, of Dunkirk, Md., and Casseur in a speed round time of 33.424 seconds. Emma Pell, 13, of Winchester, Va., went two seconds faster on Ari 55 to stop the clock at 31.694 for third place. Dugas and Skyfall raced around the course to finish on 27.550 seconds with two qualifiers still to ride. Mia Albelo, 11, of Coral Gables, Fla., and Cassandra Dreams came within a whisker defeating Dugas, going clear in 27.622, for second place.

"I took seven strides instead of eight to the last fence. I thought that would save me some time," said Dugas. "I thought my time would hold up, but at the end I was worried. The last two riders were on it. They were great competitors."

Dugas has had Skyfall for almost two years and she believes that the eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding was born to jump. 

"Last year we were just trying to qualify for NAL or Washington and we did well at both. Jumping is his favorite thing in the whole world. He would not want to be doing anything else," said Dugas. "It means the world to win here, I'm so excited."

The NAL hosts National Finals annually at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, PA, and West Coast Finals at the Las Vegas National Horse Show in Las Vegas, NV. Both Finals include the following five divisions - Children's Hunter, Adult Hunter, Children's Jumper Presented by EquiFit, Adult Jumper Presented by SmartPak, and Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper.

The NAL qualifying period runs September 1 through August 31. NAL competitions are open to all who wish to compete, however points are only awarded to current members. For more information regarding the North American League, please call (717) 867-5643, email to NAL@Ryegate.com or visit www.ryegate.com.