Gladstone, NJ (June 12, 2012) – With the gorgeous USET Foundation Headquarters as a backdrop for the 2012 USEF National Dressage Championships, pony rider Barbara (Bebe) Davis added to the setting by putting in solid tests on both of her ponies and riding away with the National Pony Rider Dressage Championship and Reserve Championship. Davis, of Bedmister, New Jersey, rides with Dr. Cesar Parra and Katie Riley of Piaffe Performance Farms.
Davis, 14, rode into the arena first with Bohdjan, a 13-year-old Dutch pony gelding. The duo captured the National Pony Rider Dressage Reserve Championship last year and this year’s score of 63.615% and 67.561% helped them defend their title with a combined score of 65.588%. “Bobo was more relaxed this year and I was thinking throughout my ride instead of just ‘show’ riding,” Davis said.
While Davis was pleased with her performance on Bohdjan, she returned to the ring with Poldy 10, a flashy 16-year-old German Riding Pony who stole center stage and the lead with top scores of 66.974% and 70.341%, for a combined score of 68.658%. “It’s been a really nice journey with Poldy,” Davis said. “I have had him less than a year but I did show him in Florida a lot and he is a great pony and I am lucky to have him.”
Davis showed off her poise in the press conference at Gladstone, where she commented on the difference between riding horses and ponies. “You really have to learn your pony, because ponies have lots of tricks,” she said. “They may not be the biggest or the fastest, but they are the craftiest. I do think ponies are more clever than horses and the smaller they are the more tricks they seem to have.”
All tricks aside, Davis showed off her rising star power during the competition. She said the past year has been a positive learning experience for her, including a difficult show at Devon last year where one of her ponies jumped out of the ring. “This year at Gladstone, both of my ponies were listening and it was a wonderful show,” she said. “The Europeans have a really strong pony dressage program and I would love to see ours grow as well. The ponies really prepare you for a Junior and Young Rider career.”
During the press conference, Davis also discussed the difficulty level of the Pony Dressage tests, which have moves ranging from Second Level to Prix St. Georges. “I think whoever developed the pony tests understood how ponies think. The tests keep the ponies busy and all of the little movements keep them on their toes,” Davis commented. “Ponies are extremely fun and when you’ve done well on a pony, you know you’ve done well.”
Davis’s wins at Gladstone came on the heels of a highly successful winter season for the pony rider, which included winning the Championship and Reserve Championship at the prestigious Palm Beach Dressage Derby in Wellington, Florida. Davis kicked off her Florida winter show circuit with scores of 65% to 67% and showed solid progress throughout the season. “I broke my own record at the last show with a 74.9% and a 75.9%, it was really exciting,” she said. “I know I improved throughout the season because of hard work and more experience in the ring.”
Davis said she hopes to compete her ponies in Europe this summer and added that she isn’t sure when she will make the transition to horses and the Junior division. “Riding ponies really helps you develop as a person and they are certainly teaching me many great life lessons,” she said. “I’d also like to thank my sponsors, Trilogy Saddles, PanaCavallo, Cavalleria Toscana, and of course my parents for all of their support.”
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