At the 1989 North American Young Rider Championships at Tempel Farms in Illinois, 20-year-old Todd Bryan of Waynesboro, PA, rode Equitanius to the dressage individual gold medal. Now, 30 years later, Todd has returned to the Adequan® FEI North American Youth Championships in 2019 to cheer on his son Nicholas as he competes in the USDF Dressage Junior Rider Championships. Nicholas is riding the 17-year-old Hanoverian gelding Rugby S, owned by Pamela Schneider, and will contest Sunday’s freestyle test for the individual medals.
Now based in Eustis, FL, Todd runs Bryan Dressage with his wife Becky. The two professional trainers are parents to Nicholas, 17, and Andrew, 22. While Andrew stuck to ice hockey, Nicholas caught the horse bug early.
“It’s always been horses for me,” said Nicholas. “I’d walk down the barn aisle and horses would always gravitate towards me and I would gravitate towards them. I tried playing other sports, but horses always pulled me back in.”
While Becky focuses on Nicholas’ training, Todd gets to cheer from the sidelines. “It’s fun just to be a dad, helping out when I can and staying out of the way!” he said with a smile. “Becky does all of the training with Nick. There’s such chemistry with these guys working, so it’s been a great situation.”
“It’s been really fun training Nick,” said Becky. “It’s hard too; there are times as a trainer where you know you need to step up and push, and there are times as a mom where you’re thinking, ‘Oh, I feel so bad.’ It’s balancing that; it’s not always easy, but it’s great. How can you beat having three of us in the same sport? It’s really fun.”
Todd took what he learned and gained from his NAYC experience and has imparted it to his son.
“The ability to come and compete against so many different people from all around this country and be able to intermingle with the event riders and jumpers was such a wonderful experience,” Todd recalled. “The people that I met back then we still talk to and work with to this day. It really sets up a network for the youth that they can use for the rest of their lives.”
Nicholas added, “It’s an amazing experience to come in and meet people I never thought I would meet. Having the barns mixed together with the jumpers is pretty cool and creates a bigger network than you would have before. Getting the experience in the show ring has been super helpful.”
Tune into USEF Network to watch Nicholas and Rugby S perform their freestyle test on the final day of the NAYC on Sunday, August 4. For more information on NAYC, visit https://www.usef.org/events/youth-championships.