Category Archives: Pony

Kyla Sullivan Earns Second Tricolor in Two Days at U.S. Pony Finals

Kyla Sullivan and Not So Secret.

Maddie Schaefer Captures Overall Large Green Pony Championship with Minted; Victory for Zone 5/6 in Pony Jumper Team Championship

Lexington, Ky. – August 12, 2016 – The Medium Green Pony Hunters boasted a grand total of 67 entries on the fourth day at the U.S. Pony Finals, and it was Kyla Sullivan aboard Back Country Farm’s Not So Secret that reigned supreme. Sullivan was also reserve champion on Thursday in the Small Pony Hunters with A Dream Come True, owned by DK-USA Sporthorse LLC.

Sullivan is 12 years old and trains with Jill and Sydney Shulman at the Greenwich, Connecticut-based Back Country Farm. Although this is Sullivan’s fourth time at the prestigious U.S. Pony Finals, this year proved to be extra successful. Being able to block everything out and concentrate on putting in a solid round is just one of many of Sullivan’s strengths.

“I just try to focus on what I’m doing and not what everyone else is doing,” she said. “It helps a lot.”

“Oliver,” as Sullivan calls her pony back in the barn, was described as “very easy going and very smooth and he’s a lot of fun to ride.” She added, “He landed all of his leads which is really good for him and he went very smoothly and nicely.”

While Jill Shulman has owned Oliver for quite a while, Sullivan’s partnership with the liver chestnut gelding only began about six months ago. Waiting at the Walnut Arena in-gate, Jill Shulman’s instructions for Sullivan were clear but simple.

“We wanted it to all match we wanted it to be smooth, for a green pony it can be dramatic and have some brilliant moments. We just wanted to be pretty solid all the way around,” Shulman stated.

Sullivan followed the directions she was told and it paid off – the pair earned the blue ribbon over-fences. In the model phase, Not So Secret was given seventh place by the judges out of a large field of entries. Combined, the pair earned 985.380 points across the division.

“He is very easy, really one of the easiest green ponies we’ve ever brought to the ring. I think it’s because he had some real little kids ride him in the short stirrup,” Shulman noted. “He’s very tried and true.”

The talented team will also try their hands in the Pony Medal on Sunday, the final day of U.S. Pony Finals, before traveling to CHJA Finals and then indoors in the fall. Sullivan is also planning to show a Large Green pony, Tiger Lily, this week at U.S. Pony Finals.

Claiming the overall reserve championship in the Medium Green Ponies were Laura Owens’ Editor’s Note, with Augusta Iwasaki in the irons.

The long journey from the West Coast to the bluegrass state was all worth it for the Calabasas, California native. Iwasaki is a 12-year-old rider who trains with her mother, Liz Reilly, and John French at Makoto Farms.

Iwasaki guided the 6-year-old gelding around the course to a sixth place finish over-fences. Rounding out the top three spots were Alexa Aureliano and Taylor Howard’s Westwood Oliver Twist with 956.330 points.

Maddie Schaefer Captures Overall Large Green Pony Championship with Minted

Maddie Schaefer is no stranger to the horse show scene, especially when it comes to the U.S. Pony Finals. Not only is her mother, Stacey Schaefer, a top trainer, but her older sister, Samantha, also shows and helps Maddie out whenever she can.

Schaefer, of Westminster, Maryland, took the win aboard her own Minted in the Overall Large Green Pony Hunter division after collecting a total of 1001.51 points. This year was her ninth year competing at U.S. Pony Finals.

Maddie Schaefer and Minted
Maddie Schaefer and Minted

The 15-year-old trains with her mother and sister at their Shadow Ridge Farm, and the team imported “Robbie” from Robert Baider about a year and a half ago.

Schaefer said, “He’s a good boy. He’s a solid citizen. He’s always been wanting to help us out and win. He’s always been generally a very good boy.”

She attributes some of Robbie’s success comes from his “willing to please” and laid-back attitude.

“I love his attitude. He never really has an opinion and it’s great because when they have too much opinion sometimes it makes them a winner and sometimes it makes them a loser. It makes him a winner, his attitude,” she explained. “He’s always wanting to help you out. He’s never like, ‘You can do this one on your own.’ He’s always like, ‘Alright! Come on!'”

Schaefer agreed that the Bobby Murphy-designed course was challenging but at the same time it was appropriate for green ponies. The pair placed second over-fences. In the model, judges gave them eleventh place out of a very large section.

“It was inviting for green ponies. I did not like the short approach we had to do inside, but I guess it makes sense; they don’t want everyone taking five minutes on their entrance. They always cut off the far end and I love the brush jumps when we have the option.”

Schaefer does not just ride ponies, however. She also has two equitation mounts – one that was recently imported and one named In the Know, who her sister also rides in hunter derbies. The young rider also rides Michael Hughes’ horse, Red Hot, in the High Children’s Jumper division.

Patricia Lafoe’s Baby Blue and Ella Reinauer took reserve championship honors after accumulating 999.700 points overall. Ericka Koscinski claimed third place overall with North Shore Equestrian Center’s Honorable. Together, they garnered 996.450 points overall.

Competition will resume tomorrow at 7 a.m. in the Walnut Arena beginning with the over-fences for the Regular Medium Pony division. More than 150 pony and rider combinations are set to compete on the second to last day of the U.S. Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm.

Victory for Zone 5/6 in Pony Jumper Team Championship

The pony jumpers continued on Friday during the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals, and it was the combined team of Zones 5 and 6 that rose to the challenge to capture the team gold in the Phase II Team Championship competition.

Anna Spitzer with Silver Charm, Isaiah Wiseman and Midnight Heart, Natalie Hinz and Rumor Has It, and Maya Lovdal with Miracles Happen composed the combined team that bested the field in the two-round, Nations Cup-style jumper class.

“We didn’t really know each other before today,” Wiseman explained. “But I’ve my pony for three years, and this is my third year doing the pony jumpers on him. At home he’s so calm, but when he gets to the show he knows his job.”

“We’re all new to each other, so no matching shirts,” Lovdal continued, laughing. “But we all worked well together.”

Up against eight other teams comprised of the nation’s best pony jumpers, the Zone Six/Seven team rode both rounds impressively, finishing on a total of 44 faults for the victory. At her Pony Finals debut, Spitzer and Silver Charm delivered one of only three double clear rounds of the day, helping to boost her team into the lead

The challenging track posed problems for many of the horse-and-rider combinations, with a number of riders pulling rails through a triple combination that was followed by an oxer on a bending line.

“The course was set up really well,” Lovdal said. “There were a couple of tricky fences, like the combinations and the water. My pony is only a medium, so the only thing we really have trouble with are the oxers because he’s so little and he has to stretch over them. He knows his job, though.”

“It’s my first time at Pony Finals, so I was super nervous the first day,” Spitzer said. “But Silver Charm loves the arena. He’s been so good and so willing, which has made this experience really fun. I’m excited, and I think we’re all really happy.”

Although the gold medal was decided by the first and second round scores, a tie meant the silver and bronze medals were still in contention, requiring each team to send one rider to compete in a jump-off round to decide the order.

Each team had faults in the jump-off, but the best round was delivered by the combined teams of Zones 4 and 9, so it was decided that Isabella Durnell, Rachel Long, Kayla Long and Nadia Rosenbaum would be coming home with the silver medal on 72 faults. The Zone 1 team, which consisted of Riley Kram, Sydney Berube, Elize Albertini and Bobby Bolger, finished in third on 84 faults.

The 2016 U.S. Pony Jumper Championship will wrap up tomorrow with Phase III – the individual final. Leading the standings tied with four faults are Rachel Long and Zumba, Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher, Maya Lovdal and Miracles Happen, and Isabella Durnell and Carlton Diva.

For more information about the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals, please visit https://www.usef.org/_iframes/breedsdisciplines/discipline/pony/ponyfinals.aspx.

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

So Enchanted and Minted Awarded Overall Grand and Reserve Green Hunter Pony Titles

Caroline Passarelli and So Enchanted (Shawn McMillen Photography)

Lexington, Ky. – It was another exciting day of competition at the US Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm as two more championship titles in the US Hunter Pony Championship presented by Sallee Horse Vans were decided on Friday. Kyla Sullivan and Not So Secret collected Medium Green Hunter Pony honors, while Madeline Schaefer and Minted were named the Large Green Hunter Pony Champions. Both championship divisions completed the Over Fences phase on Friday, earning the final 50% for their overall score. They earned 25% from both the Model and Under Saddle phases on Thursday. Following the completion of the Green Pony divisions, So Enchanted was named Overall Green Hunter Pony Grand Champion, while Minted was the Reserve Grand Champion.

Medium Green Hunter Pony Championship

Sullivan (Wallingford, Conn.) and Not So Secret, a 10-year-old Crossbred Pony gelding owned by Jill Shulman were in fourth place heading into the final phase after earning 247.88 in the Model phase and 250.00 in the Under Saddle phase. A great performance in the Over Fences phase gave the pair a score of 243.75 to finish first in the phase. This strong ride propelled them to the Medium Green Hunter Pony Championship title with an overall score of 985.38.

“It’s very exciting [to be the champion]. My pony is very easy going and a lot of fun to ride. He landed all of his leads, which is really good for him, and he went around very smoothly and nicely. We talked about landing the leads, riding the track, and having smooth jumps,” said Sullivan.

Augusta Iwasaki (Calabasas, Calif.) rode Editor’s Note to Reserve Champion honors with an overall score of 971.36. She and the six-year-old Pony gelding owned by Quartet Farm LLC scored 262.98, 251.00, and 228.69 in the Model, Under Saddle, and Over Fences phases, respectively, to come in second in the championship division.

The third place ribbon in the Medium Green Hunter Pony Championship went to Alexa Aureliano (Old Brookville, N.Y.) and Westwood Oliver Twist. She and Taylor Howard’s seven-year-old Welsh Pony Cross gelding received 235.59 in the Model phase, 249.30 in the Under Saddle phase, and 235.72 in the Over Fences phase for a total score of 956.33.

The Best Turned Out Pony in the Medium Green section was Highlands Polaris ridden by Claire Campbell. The Best Presented Model Pony was awarded to Woodland’s Kennedy, presented by Kierstin Antoniadis.

Large Green Hunter Pony Championship

Schaefer rode her and Catherine Nicholas’ Minted to top honors in the Large Green Hunter Pony Championship, finishing on a score of 1001.51. She and the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding garnered scores of 253.16 in the Model phase and 248.35 in the Under Saddle phase on Thursday. The combination stole the title on Friday evening by earning 250.00 in the Over Fences phase, barely edging out the Reserve Champions Ella Reinauer (St. Louis, Mo.) and Baby Blue with an overall score of 999.70. Reinauer and Bibby Hill’s 16-year-old Welsh Pony Cross gelding had scores of 236.93, 248.77, and 257.00 in the Model, Under Saddle, and Over Fences phases, respectively.

“He [Minted] is super sweet in the barn, and genuinely easy to live with. He was great in the Over Fences. He didn’t look at a thing and showed just like any typical show. I’ve been competing for nine years, and it’s my last year [at Pony Finals]. I’m going to miss the thrill. Coming in on green ponies, you never know what to expect, and both of my ponies were really good,” said Schaefer.

Ericka Koscinski (Center Moriches, N.Y.) and North Shore Equestrian Center’s horse name came in third with an overall score of 996.45. Koscinski and the nine-year-old Thoroughbred/Welsh gelding scored 250.40, 252.35, and 246.85 in the Model, Under Saddle, and Over Fences phases, respectively.

The Best Turned Out Pony in the Large Green section was Timeless, ridden by Erica Felder. The Best Presented Model Pony was awarded to Bracewood’s Foxfire presented by Annalyn Hoffpauir.

Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship

After two phases of competition, Grace Debney (Hampden, Mass.) and Sportster lead in the Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship. Debney and her and Karen Debsey’s 16-year-old Warmblood gelding earned 253.27 in the Model phase and 264.34 in the Under Saddle Phase for a score of 517.61. Anna Richardson (Granby, Mass.) and Piper Klemm’s nine-year-old Welsh/Thoroughbred mare horse name, are in second place with a total score of 511.99, while Hunter Champey (Far Hills, N.J.) and News Flash, Annabella Sanchez’s 11-year-old Welsh Pony gelding, are in third with a score of 508.14.

Watch the live stream on the USEF Network presented by the USHJA Foundation, covering competition from the Walnut and Alltech Arenas. Check out the USEF Network for a complete schedule.

For live scoring, results, schedule, and competitor and hospitality information, go to www.usefconnect.com/ponyfinals.

Find out more information about the US Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm at www.ponyfinals.org.

From the USEF Communications Department

Claire Campbell Rides to the Top in Small Pony Hunter Division at US Pony Finals

Claire Campbell and Roll Call.

Lexington, Ky. – August 11, 2016 – The “hurry up and wait” motto is all too familiar to people who frequently horse show. Waiting around all day to compete when you’re currently in the lead from the first day can make even the most laid-back people nervous. Top off the building anxiety with the pressure of riding around in the Walnut Arena with everyone eagerly watching your every move. For Claire Campbell, sitting around all day to go did not seem to faze her in the slightest.

“I showed my Medium Green and then we went back to the hotel, and I took a little nap,” Campbell revealed. “I thought I was going to be way more nervous than I was. Standing at the ramp, I really wasn’t nervous.”

But that doesn’t mean she wasn’t ecstatic over her victory – it just hadn’t processed in her head yet.

“I don’t think it’s sunken in yet, but it’s amazing,” Campbell said. “He was such a good boy. He was perfect today.”

Perhaps Campbell’s confidence came from knowing her mount so well. “Pleasure,” as he is affectionately called in the barn, has been with Campbell for six years now.

“Pleasure is great. He is so sweet, and he loves his treats. He nickers at everyone when they walk by,” Campbell said. “He’s always quiet, and he never spooks. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen off of him — knock on wood. He has a big stride, and he’s a really nice mover.”

Campbell and her own Roll Call were the last team out of a field of over 120 entries to give the course a go and ended up placing third over-fences. On Wednesday, she was second in both the model and the under-saddle phase.

Campbell, of Cochranville, Pennsylvania, trains with Stacey Schaefer at Shadow Ridge Farm. The 13-year-old rider treks from her hometown in Pennsylvania to Westminster, Maryland so she can train a few times a week.

It’s a family affair for the Campbells, as Claire’s younger sister, Rose, also competes with the team at Shadow Ridge Farm in the medium pony division.

“Claire is a hard worker, and the family has put a lot of time and effort into this,” trainer Stacey Schaefer said. “They live two hours away, and they come to see me a lot. We are like a unit, for sure. We’re really close.

“They met me because they bought Roll Call from me, and I gave them another pony and they decided that they wanted to come to Florida the next winter,” she continued. “They came, and they never left. It’s been a great time.”

Kyla Sullivan collected the reserve championship with A Dream Come True, owned by DK-USA Sporthorse LLC. Sullivan trains with Jill and Sydney Shulman at Back Country Farm located in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Sullivan was also able to keep her nerves in check, despite having shown her pony a mere two times. This year marked her fourth time at U.S. Pony Finals, but Thursday was the first time the 12-year-old captured a tricolor ribbon.

“We got him two weeks before we left,” Sydney Shulman explained. “So we’ve had him for three weeks. We took him to HITS and she showed him, and she showed him last week once, and then we were deciding between our two: Secret Love, that we own, and A Dream Come True. It kind of just fell into place that she should show Snowball.”

Sullivan and Snowball earned 12th place over-fences. Olivia Sweetnam, daughter of top Grand Prix rider Shane Sweetnam, and Love Bug rode to the top in the over-fences section. The dynamic duo made everyone in the crowd smile when they nailed every aspect of the course.

Sydney Shulman acknowledged her mother’s expertise in helping make Thursday such a positive experience.

“I’m thrilled. My mom, Jill, really works hard with the ponies. She rides them and she picks them,” she smiled. “She always picks good ones. My mom was so excited for them today. Kyla nailed it.”

Sullivan was just as thrilled about her victory as her trainers were. She exclaimed, “It feels really exciting to be reserve champion. I like showing at Pony Finals because I have a lot of friends here, and the ring is very big and fun to ride in.”

Sullivan is also set to compete a Large Green and a Medium Green pony this week at U.S. Pony Finals. Rounding out the division were the third place overall finishers, Mimi Gochman and Dr. Betsee Parker’s Love Me Tender.

Competition will resume Friday at 7 a.m. in the Walnut Arena, beginning with the Medium Pony model.

For more information about the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals, please visit https://www.usef.org/_iframes/breedsdisciplines/discipline/pony/ponyfinals.aspx.

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Roll Call Earns Small Regular Hunter Pony Crown at 2016 US Pony Finals

Claire Campbell and Roll Call (Shawn McMillen Photography)

Lexington, Ky. – Claire Campbell and Roll Call took home the title in the Small Regular Hunter Pony Championship in the US Hunter Pony Championships presented by Collecting Gaits Farm at the Kentucky Horse Park. The pair garnered a total score of 1026.32 through two days of competition.

National titles are determined following three phases of competition, with Model and Under Saddle phases each counting towards 25% of the overall score, and the remaining 50% being determined by the Over Fences phase.

Campbell (Cochranville, Pa.) and her own Roll Call earned the Small Regular Hunter Pony Championship after a superb round in the Over Fences phase to score 254.23 for second place in the phase. On Wednesday, she and the 11-year-old German Riding Pony gelding received scores of 250.92 and 266.94 in the Model and Under Saddle phases, respectively. Campbell has been riding “Pleasure” for about six years, and the two very much enjoyed their ride.

“It was good. I think the last line was probably the hardest because they want to go home fast,” Campbell said of Roll Call. “My trainers told me they wanted me to do the outside track, get the canter in the beginning of the round, and for the last line, don’t go barreling out.”

The Reserve Champion title went to Kyla Sullivan (Wallingford, Conn.) and DK-USA Sporthorse, LLC’s A Dream Come True with a final score of 1010.58. She and the 19-year-old Welsh Pony gelding scored 256.63 in the Over Fences phase, after earning 242.62 in the Model phase and 254.70 in the Under Saddle phase.

Mimi Gochman (Wellington, Fla.) and Dr. Betsee Parker’s Love Me Tender finished third with a total score of 997.88, with their Over Fences score putting them in third place in the phase. She and the 12-year-old Welsh Pony mare finished with scores of 234.29, 263.73, and 249.93 in the Model, Under Saddle, and Over Fences phases, respectively.

Q-2, with Libbie Gordon, was the Best Presented Model Pony in the Small Regular section. Land’s End Lady Slipper, with Clara Propp, was the Best Turned Out Pony in the Small Regular section.

Medium and Large Green Hunter Pony Championship

After two phases of competition, Augusta Iwasaki and Editor’s Note have taken the lead in the Medium Green Pony Hunter Championship. Iwasaki (Calabasas, Calif.) and Quartet Farm LLC’s six-year-old Pony gelding captured first place with a score of 262.98 in the Model phase and 251.00 in the Under Saddle phase for a total of 513.98. Luke Jensen (Denton, Texas) and Diane Daly’s That’s The Scoop, a seven-year-old Welsh Pony Cross mare, sit in second with a total of 503.97, while Madeleine Flocks (Manhattan, N.Y.) and Arnaby Bodacious, a seven-year-old Welsh Pony gelding owned by Ciara Hayes, are in third with 500.00.

In the Large Green Hunter Pony competition, Adam Edgar and Whitney Hydeman’s six-year-old Welsh Pony Cross gelding, Happy Feet, captured first place with a score of 259.46 in the Model phase and 259.55 in the Under Saddle phase. The pair finished the day with an overall total of 519.01. Gochman and Rivers Edge’s Upside, a six-year-old Bavarian gelding, sit in second with a total of 516.28, while Samantha Palermo (Merritt Island, Fla.) and Neptune, her own eight-year-old Welsh/Thoroughbred gelding, are in third with 511.05.

The USEF Network will live stream competition from the Walnut and Alltech Arenas, presented by the USHJA Foundation. Tune in to the USEF Network for a complete schedule.

For live scoring, results, schedule, and competitor and hospitality information go to www.usefconnect.com.

Find out more information about the US Pony Finals on usef.org.

From the USEF Communications Department

So Enchanted and Caroline Passarelli Earn Small Green Pony Hunter Championship

Caroline Passarelli and So Enchanted.

Mimi Gochman Earns Large Pony Hunter Championship with Storyteller

Lexington, KY – Aug. 10, 2016 – For Caroline Passarelli, her sixth time at the U.S. Pony Finals proved to be the charm, as the young rider earned her first championship aboard So Enchanted in the Small Green Pony division with a total score of 1052.4 points.

“So Enchanted was an incredible pony to win my first championship on,” Passarelli said, beaming. “I knew the pony was capable; I just didn’t want to let myself get in my head. She’s really, truly impeccable, and I think it’s rare to find one that excels so well in the model, hack and over fences. She’s wonderful.”

So Enchanted, or “Lex” as she’s known in the barn, has entered the show ring a mere seven times before Pony Finals, making her clean sweep of the Small Greens even more impressive.

“We got her in the beginning of June, and she was extremely green,” Passarelli explained. “We started going back to the basics of flatwork and just getting her to really accept the bit and relax. Soon, she just started to get it. Every lesson you would see her getting better and better. She’s gotten so brave and trusting and relaxed, which is great.”

Patricia Griffith, who trains Passarelli out of Heritage Farm, said that she had a lot of confidence in the small chestnut mare’s ability to succeed. Lex’s owners, Jessica and Michaila Zandri, approached Griffith all the way from Canada about training the mare, and said that they wanted Passarelli to have the ride. The Zandri sisters had one goal in mind: to prove their pony could win at Pony Finals.

Instead of backing down from the challenge, Griffith saw the quality of the pony and placed her faith in the abilities of the mare with Passarelli as the rider. The duo worked with the pony, fine tuning her skillset and showing only twice before their big debut at Pony Finals.

“Everybody at the show roots for Caroline,” Griffith said. “She’s just a lovely child with a work ethic like no other, and she has put a lot of work and time into this. The pony is obviously really top-quality.”

Going into her round, Passarelli said she was focusing on keeping her ride smooth and giving the mare the confident ride she deserved. The owners watched safely from afar, too nervous to come any closer or jinx the duo.

“Down the last line, I was thinking that she was nailing it and all I had to do was let her do her job, and she was so brave,” Passarelli said. “She went in there so willing to do her job, and she really knew that she was on top and she wanted to come out on top, too. To win like this is incredible, I can’t thank the Zandris enough for letting me show her for these past couple of months, and to Patricia and Dottie and the whole team at Heritage.”

Bringing home the reserve champion honors with a score of 995.98 points was Patti Foster’s Picturesque Bow Tie, shown by Casey Oliver. The duo finished impressively in second place over fences, sixth in the under saddle and eighth in the model.

Mimi Gochman Earns Large Pony Hunter Championship with Storyteller

The U.S. Pony Finals, a prestigious event that many young riders eagerly try to qualify for during their careers, is well underway at the scenic Kentucky Horse Park. Between the rolling green hills and the sprawling pastures, this show set in horse country is anything but ordinary.

Mimi Gochman and Storyteller
Mimi Gochman and Storyteller

These attributes make it the ideal environment for young equestrians to chase their dreams. Mimi Gochman, of West Palm Beach, Florida, has been coming to U.S. Pony Finals for five years. Gochman wrapped up the Large Pony Hunter division on the second day by winning the over-fences to make her grand overall total 1080.4 points. Her pony, Storyteller, won the model and came in third in the under saddle phase Tuesday.

Gochman and Storyteller, who is owned by Fair Play Farm, joined forces about a year and a half ago. She currently trains with the teams at River’s Edge and Baxter Hill. When she and her sister, Sophie, walked the course with their trainer, Scott Stewart, he advised them to jump the inside option fence in the last bending line coming home. This advice ensured Gochman’s round over the Bobby Murphy-designed course ended smoothly and flowing.

“I think that was a better idea than having to run up for the ten or running on the inside in nine [strides],” she explained. “The ten was just a nice canter down the line and he jumped it better than the flatter jumps.”

The pair topped the over-fences class out of a whopping 136 entries. “Story,” a 13-year-old German Sport Pony, is quite popular in the barn with his grooms as well, due to his quiet and sweet demeanor, Gochman explained.

“The grooms all love him. He’s very easy and not complicated. He doesn’t need too much lunging. He’s a pretty easy, all-around subtle pony that doesn’t need too much work.”

Sophie also enjoys getting the ride on the chestnut gelding from time to time.

“Every once in a while she’ll show him and she really likes him,” Gochman said. “We all love him so much. He’s a sharing pony – everyone can ride him.”

“He’s very sweet. You can always go in his stall and cuddle. He loves treats so you should probably go in there with candy or something,” she said with a laugh.

Although Gochman has had her fair share of experiences competing at U.S. Pony Finals, this year marked her first time capturing the championship prize. Last year, she just missed the title, coming in reserve.

“It’s a great honor to be champion, especially with such a great pony. He’s always there and he always helps me out,” she smiled.

Coming in reserve was Devin Seek, of Ocala, Florida and Ashley Aycox’s Garavani. Seek rides for Don Stewart and Bibby Hill, as well as Michael Newman. Just like Gochman, Seek is not new to U.S. Pony Finals. This is her ninth year showing at the annual event. She came in eighth place over-fences, which made her overall score 246.700.

Odds were stacked against the 15-year-old rider. She had just come down with strep throat only three days ago, and she and Garavani only showed together twice this year – once in Tryon, North Carolina, to qualify for Pony Finals, and last week during the Kentucky Summer Classic.

Seek showed with Garavani last year at U.S. Pony Finals, but she made it her goal to come back and perfect her rounds. Her dedication throughout the year paid off, and the judges took notice.

“We got the ‘Most Improved’ award! He jumped around the first time. I’m so proud of him…” she said. “He’s still like a green pony in his own little heart.”

She continued, “He was really good last year, but one jump caught him by surprise and he scared himself. So Michael was like, ‘Next year, he needs the same type of ride,’ so we planned on this. It wasn’t a last minute thing. We knew we were going to do this.”

Garavani likes his rider to be focused and confident in the saddle, so he feels his best in the ring.

“You have to keep him confident because he’s looking to you for that. After the first jump, he was like, ‘Oh I got this!’ That’s all he is looking for – confidence.”

Seek hopes to continue her winning ways this week as she is entered to show a Large Green pony, Phillippe, named after the luxury watch brand.

When asked why she keeps coming back year after year to this event, Seek explained that it gives riders the chance to compete at such an elite horse show held at an incredible venue.

“My favorite part is the fact that they give everyone a chance to shine. They give plenty of ribbons; anyone can come here and have a chance. And they make the course appealing to everyone.”

Tantallon Co-captain, owned by MDHT Equestrian LLC, was ridden by Dakota Champey and together the duo rounded out the top three overall winners in the Regular Large Pony Hunter division.

Competition at the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals will resume Thursday morning in the Walnut Arena starting with the Medium Green and Large Green models and under saddle classes.

For more information about the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals, please visit https://www.usef.org/_iframes/breedsdisciplines/discipline/pony/ponyfinals.aspx.

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Storyteller and So Enchanted Receive Large Regular and Small Green Hunter Pony Titles

Mimi Gochman and Storyteller (Shawn McMillen Photography)

Lexington, Ky. – The first championship titles of the US Hunter Pony Championship presented by Sallee Horse Vans were claimed Wednesday as the Large Regular Hunter Ponies and the Small Green Hunter Ponies completed their final phases of competition in the 2016 US Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm at the Kentucky Horse Park. Mimi Gochman and Storyteller earned top overall honors in the Large Regular Hunter Pony Championship, while Caroline Passarelli and So Enchanted received the Small Green Hunter Pony Championship title.

National titles are determined following three phases of competition, with Model and Under Saddle phases each counting towards 25% of the overall score, and the remaining 50% being determined by the Over Fences phase.

Large Regular Hunter Pony Championship

Gochman (Wellington, Fla.) and Fair Play Farm’s Storyteller earned the Large Regular Hunter Pony Championship after a fantastic round in the Over Fences phase to score 259.50 for first place in the phase. On Tuesday, she and the 13-year-old German Sport Pony gelding won the Model phase with a score of 259.76 and were third in the Under Saddle phase with a score of 262.04, putting them in first place overall. Their strong over fences performance allowed them to remain at the top of the leaderboard to win the Champion ribbon with a final score of 1040.80.

“I was Reserve [Champion] last year. I was really happy with the Reserve [Champion title], but I’d never been champion and it is a great honor to be champion, especially with such a great pony. He’s always there and always helps me out,” Gochman said.

Gochman is attending her fifth “Pony Finals” and the championship is one of her favorite competitions. She explained, “I like how it gives everyone a chance, and they put it in one of the best rings here. It’s definitely fun for the ponies. Pony Finals is Pony Finals. It’s a great show.”

The Reserve Champion title went to Devin Seek (Ocala, Fla.) and Ashley Vail Aycox’s Garavani with a final score of 1003.25. She and the eight-year-old Dutch Riding Pony gelding scored 246.70 in the Over Fences phase, after earning 258.76 in the Model phase and 251.09 in the Under Saddle phase.

Dakota Champey (Far Hills, N.J.) and MDHT Equestrian, LLC’s Tantallon Co-Captain finished third in the Large Regular Hunter Pony Championship with a total score of 997.90, and their over fences score putting them in second place in the phase. She and the 13-year-old Half Welsh gelding finished with scores of 257.37, 249.53, and 245.50 in the Model, Under Saddle, and Over Fences phases, respectively.

Small Green Hunter Pony Championship

Passarelli (High Falls, N.Y.) and Jessica and Michaila Catherine Yarr Zandri’s So Enchanted won the Small Green Hunter Pony Championship with a score of 1052.46 after winning each of the three phases. She and the eight-year-old Welsh Pony Cross mare received scores of 260.13 in the Model phase and 258.33 in the Under Saddle phase on the first day of competition. They maintained their commanding lead at the top of the leaderboard by claiming top honors in the Over Fences phase with a score of 267.00.

“I just wanted to keep everything smooth and even and give her a confident ride, and not get too worked up finding every jump. I really just wanted to give her the solid ride that she deserved,” Passarelli said of her round.

Like Gochman, Passarelli is a “Pony Finals” veteran, making her sixth appearance at the championship and winning her first title. “It’s incredible. It took a few years, but this was an incredible pony to [win a title] on. I’m so thankful for the Zandris for allowing me to show this pony and to Patricia [Griffith], Dottie [Barnwell-Areson], and everyone at Heritage Farm for helping me with everything and continuing to do so.”

The Reserve Champion title went to Casey Oliver (Bellview, Fla.) and Patti Foster’s Picturesque Bow Tie with a final score of 995.98. She and the 10-year-old Welsh Pony gelding had solid scores of 245.13, 244.85, and 253.00 in the Model, Under Saddle, and Over Fences phases, respectively.

Luke Jensen (Denton, Texas) and Bill Schaub’s Mustachio were in third in the Small Green Hunter Pony Championship after scoring 995.98 overall. He and the 10-year-old Welsh gelding received scores of 248.55, 244.04, and 251.25 for the Model, Under Saddle, and Over Fences phases, respectively.

Competition continues Thursday with the Medium and Large Green Hunter Ponies contesting the Model and Under Saddle phases in the Walnut Arena. Then, the Small Regular Hunter Ponies will complete the Over Fences to determine the champion. Evelyn Walker (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) and Royal Moment, her own seven-year-old Welsh Pony gelding, currently lead the standings with a score of 519.99. In the evening in the Alltech Arena, the US Pony Jumper Championship will get underway with the Individual Phase I.

The live stream on the USEF Network is presented by the USHJA Foundation and will cover all of the competition from the Walnut and Alltech Arenas. Check out the USEF Network for a complete schedule.

For live scoring, results, schedule, and competitor and hospitality information, go to www.usefconnect.com/ponyfinals.

Find out more information about the US Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm at www.ponyfinals.org.

From the USEF Communications Department

Storyteller and Mimi Gochman Lead Large Ponies on Day One of 2016 U.S. Pony Finals

Mimi Gochman and Storyteller.

So Enchanted and Caroline Passarelli Sweep the Small Green Pony Hunter Model and Under Saddle

Lexington, KY – Aug. 9, 2016 – Mimi Gochman kicked off her fifth year at U.S. Pony Finals with a win aboard Fair Play Farm’s Storyteller in the Large Pony Model and a third-place finish in the Large Pony Under Saddle, heading into day two of competition sitting in the lead with 521.8 points.

“I’m really excited and very happy,” Gochman said, smiling. “Since I’ve done Pony Finals so many times, it makes me so happy to have success here. In the past few years I’ve gotten better at doing this, but modeling is hard and hacking can be very hard, so to win out of so many kids, I’m very proud of him.”

The 11-year-old, who is based out of West Palm Beach and trains with both the Baxter Hill and Rivers Edge Farm teams, said she got the ride on Storyteller around this time last year, just one week after Pony Finals.

“Story has always been really simple,” Gochman said. “He is easy. He has a great personality. You can always trust him to be safe, and you can always have fun on him, which is really good. He’s funny – he has a great personality. It’s really fun to have a pony that you can hang out with, too. He has a big, grand neck and he’s pretty shiny, thanks to my groom.”

Going into Wednesday’s over-fences class, Gochman acknowledged that her job was not done yet, and said she is going to focus on thinking ahead and continuing to ride her best.

“Tomorrow, I have to keep going,” Gochman said. “I can’t just say that I did well now and not try tomorrow. I’ve got to keep trying really hard. I try not to be nervous and to make it like it’s another show, but again this show is so much fun and we’re in the big ring. The ponies don’t get to go in a big ring like this a lot, so it’s special.”

Coming in second with 258.760 points in the Large Pony model was Ashley Aycox’s Garavani, who was handled by Devin Seek. In third place with 257.37 points was Tantallon Co-Captain of MDHT Equestrian LLC, handled by Dakota Champey.

In the under saddle, it was Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Soldier and Augusta Iwasaki who took home the blue ribbon with their score of 264.58 points. Taking home second place on the flat with a score of 262.5 points was Foxlair Syncopation, ridden and owned by Kayla Jacobs.

Coming in second overall at the end of day one with 509.85 points is Garavani, owned by Aycox and shown by Seek. Heading into day two in third with 506.2 points is R Cinderella Man, owned and shown by Abigail Fox.

So Enchanted and Caroline Passarelli Sweep the Small Green Pony Hunter Model and Under Saddle

Fourteen-year-old Caroline Passarelli rounded out the first day of U.S. Pony Finals with back-to-back blues in the Small Green Pony Hunter division with her mount, So Enchanted.

“Lex,” as the mare is called in the barn, is owned by Jessica Zandri, and Passarelli recently got the ride aboard the 8-year-old chestnut mare in the beginning of June. Despite this new partnership, Passarelli took the top prize in the model before heading back into the ring for the under saddle phase, where she triumphed yet again.

Passarelli was calm and collected going into this year’s U.S. Pony Finals as it is her fifth consecutive year. The Pony Finals veteran trains with the team at Heritage Farm based in Katonah, New York. She only had positive things to say about her mount.

“This pony, she’s really a special one,” Passarelli beamed. “You don’t come across ponies like this many times. She has a great mind; she really wants to win and she knows that she can be the winner.”

“You really have to ride kind of like you’re asking her to do stuff, not telling her,” Passarelli continued. “She really wants you to ride her like she’s the driver. She’s truly amazing – she’s one that you don’t find many times. And for her to have the whole package, it is really special to be able to ride her.”

Passarelli, of High Falls, New York, knew what her game plan was going into the under saddle phase — Lex prefers her pilot to be simple and let her do her job.

“She’s a great mover, so it’s just letting her go forward and kind of do her own thing. She doesn’t like when you fuss with her too much, so you just set her up and leave her there and she likes to hold her own.”

In terms of the model, Passarelli noted, “You can just leave her alone and she’ll look pretty.”

The young rider had a mature and realistic attitude going into Wednesday’s over-fences portion.

“Well, they’re green ponies so anything can happen no matter how great they are the rest of the time, so I’m just planning on giving her a really strong, confident ride and having her be her best. Hopefully, it will all turn out well.”

So Enchanted and Passarelli are heading into the second day of U.S. Pony Finals in the lead in the Small Green Pony Hunters with a total score of 518.46, while Lauren Reed and Starstone are currently sitting in second place with a total of 497.67. Casey Oliver and her mount, Picturesque Bow Tie, are in third with 489.98.

Competition at the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals will resume Wednesday morning in the Walnut Arena starting with the Regular Small Pony Model followed by the under saddle.

For more information about the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals, please visit https://www.usef.org/_iframes/breedsdisciplines/discipline/pony/ponyfinals.aspx.

Media Contact: Rebecca Walton
Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
PhelpsMediaGroup.com

Pony Club Riders Receive Unique Competition Experience at Tryon International Equestrian Center

Photo Credit ©MegBanks/TIEC.

Mill Spring, NC – August 1, 2016 – More than 600 young riders, ages 12-25, traveled from across the United States to Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) to participate in the 2016 U.S. Pony Club Championships East hosted from Wednesday, July 27, through Sunday, July 31. In addition to the competition, which featured seven disciplines of equestrian sport, Pony Club members and their families were treated to a week’s worth of entertainment and fun.

TIEC and Polk County welcomed the Pony Club community with a block party on Wednesday night featuring free carousel rides, face painting, karaoke, magician, pony rides, games and a bouncy house. The fun continued on Thursday night with the first-ever “Battle of the Barns Lip Sync Contest,” where 25 teams competed for bragging rights and prize money. The first place team took home $1,000, second place won $750, and third place won $500. TIEC made an additional $1,000 donation to the U.S. Pony Club in honor of the first place winning team.

On Friday night, TIEC welcomed the world-famous Double Dan Horsemanship, a duo who entertains crowds around the world, performing their electrifying liberty horse demonstration and displaying the ultimate partnership between horse and human. Afterward, attendees stayed to watch “National Velvet” on the jumbotron in the George H. Morris Arena as part of TIEC’s weekly “Friday Night at the Movies” series.

TIEC introduced Pony Club to its popular “Saturday Night Lights” entertainment series on Saturday, culminating the unique, Tryon-based championship experience. Both Pony Club members and spectators enjoyed free carnival-style fun including carousel and pony rides, face painting, entertainers, and a special pre-show by the Skydiving Angels parachute team.

Courtney Hoffman, a dressage competitor, particularly enjoyed the added entertainment. “The nighttime activities, those were really fun,” said Hoffman. “We got to hang out with our whole region. The lip sync was really fun! We actually didn’t sign up; we were the ones who kept dancing in the bleachers and who kept trying to get on the jumbotron.”

Both TIEC and U.S. Pony Club share a goal to grow equestrian sport by making it accessible and available to anyone. For TIEC, the entertainment events serve a greater purpose in growing the sport.

“Pony Clubs stand for horsemanship, teamwork, respect for the horse, respect for oneself, service, and education, and those are all attributes and areas of focus that we want to be true of Tryon Resort and Tryon International Equestrian Center,” said Sharon Decker, Chief Operations Officer for Tryon Equestrian Partners Carolinas Operations. “We think we make great partners because one of our objectives is to grow equestrian sport and pony clubs are where it all begins, so it’s been a true honor to host the United States Pony Club Championships East this week and we look forward to a long relationship with pony clubs.”

Building upon this mission, TIEC also held a challenge during the week to give at least 100 kids their first pony ride. More than 100 kids participated in the challenge and TIEC awarded a $250 Pony Club scholarship to three participants chosen at random.

“The purpose of these fun events is to expose Pony Club and equestrian sport to our local audiences and generate interest in the sport,” said Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners. “This championship event brought many new families to our Carolinas region and we wanted to give these young riders an audience to celebrate their major accomplishments with them. Everything we do at TIEC goes back to our mission of growing interest in equestrian sport.”

Pony Club member Bella Curtis appreciated the fan fare from the crowd. She said, “During the senior games [on Saturday night], it was really cool that a lot of people were seeing mounted games for the first time and they were cheering like it was a football game because a lot of the time the only people who watch games are the other people who ride games.”

The duration of the week hosted Pony Club riders competing in seven different disciplines simultaneously around the show grounds, showcasing the magnitude of the TIEC venue what the facility can accommodate in terms of championships competition. Pony Club eventing competitors also had the privilege of being the first to ride on a portion of the new cross-country course at TIEC.

For many Pony Club competitors, the TIEC facility was one of the first that allowed different disciplines to intermingle and celebrate together in a unified Pony Club atmosphere.

“[The TIEC facility] lets others come together because sometimes during Championships you don’t get to communicate with other people from other regions and you’re really able to come together as a whole Pony Club here and I think that’s really cool,” said Pony Club member Georgia Diroberto.

To learn more about Tryon International Equestrian Center and U.S. Pony Club Championships East, please visit www.tryon.com.

Pony Club Rider First to Experience Cross-Country Course at Tryon International Equestrian Center

Rachael Wood and Standing Ovation. ©GRCPhotography.

Mill Spring, NC – July 30, 2016 – More than 600 riders participated in the U.S. Pony Club Championships East held at Tryon International Equestrian Center from July 27-31, 2016. Embracing the Pony Club motto, “where it all begins,” competitors made history as the first riders to experience TIEC’s highly-anticipated cross-country course designed by Captain Mark Phillips, one of the world’s most renowned cross-country course designers. Out of all the Pony Club members in attendance, Greenville, SC native Rachael Wood (20) and her 17.2 hand Clydesdale x TB/Warmblood cross, Standing Ovation, were the very first competitors to set out around the newly minted track.

For Wood, being the first rider on the course was an “incredible” moment and will forever be one of her favorite memories at TIEC.

“You feel like you’re some top Olympian because everyone’s there and they saw the whole thing,” explains Wood. “You can hear them cheering and then you come off and feel like you’re just the greatest rider in the world because everyone’s like, ‘Whoooooo!’ You don’t normally get that on a regular cross-country course.”

Click here to learn more about TIECs cross-country course.

“We are pleased to have the facility’s first cross-country course rider be a Pony Club member,” said Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners. “Like the organization’s motto states, Pony Club is where many top riders around the world begin their equestrian careers, and we are grateful for the investment Pony Club makes in shaping these young equestrians.”

Sharon Decker, Chief Operations Officer for Tryon Equestrian Partners Carolinas Operations, added, “One of our priorities is growing equestrian sport and Pony Club is the place it all begins,” said Decker. “Pony Club’s focus on horsemanship, teamwork, respect for the horse and self, service, and education totally align with who we are as an organization. We are so proud to have this event here and look forward to many more exciting Pony Club events here in years to come.”

Wood has been a member of Pony Club since she was 12 years old and grew up riding in the western discipline before transitioning into the hunter/jumpers. She fell in love with cross-country after watching it once and started eventing shortly thereafter. Standing Ovation is blind in one eye, but lives to please a crowd according to Wood and was encouraged by the crowd’s continuous cheers.

“[Standing Ovation] was sharp and very excited,” said Wood. “Today with all the commotion he was extra excited, but he was very attentive to my aids. It was a little bit ‘looky’ for him, but he definitely came to play.”

Wood had previously participated in a Karen O’Connor clinic in 2014 at TIEC and was impressed by the facility’s rapid development since then, especially surrounding the George Morris Arena.

“When we rode in [the George Morris Arena], Legends Club wasn’t even here,” said Wood. “You come back and you’re like, is this the same arena? It’s crazy.”

Wood is returning in September to compete in the Nutrena® USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover (AEC), also being held at TIEC from August 31 – September 4.

To learn more about Tryon International Equestrian Center, U.S. Pony Club Championships East, or USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), visit www.tryon.com.

USEF Announces Partnership with Upper Echelon Academy

Lexington, Ky. – The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and Upper Echelon Academy (UEA) have signed an exclusive provisioning agreement making Upper Echelon Academy the Official Tutoring Provider of the 2016 Adequan®/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North (NAJYRC) and the 2016 US Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, as well as a Bronze Sponsor of the Adequan®/FEI NAJYRC.

“The United States Equestrian Federation is honored that Upper Echelon Academy has chosen to sponsor the Adequan®/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North and the US Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm,” said USEF CEO Bill Moroney. “With UEA’s extensive private tutoring program designed to accommodate demanding equestrian schedules, we couldn’t think of a better partner for our athletes competing at both events.”

The Adequan®/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North are the premier equestrian competition for up-and-coming talent in North America. Young equestrian athletes between the ages of 14 and 21 will compete for Team and Individual FEI medals at the 2016 NAJYRC, July 26-31, at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colo.

The US Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gait Farms is a six-day National Championship event featuring hunter, jumper, and equitation classes for ponies and their youth riders. It will be held August 9-14, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.

Upper Echelon Academy in Wellington, Fla. has a rich history of meeting the unique demands of equestrians and elite athletes outside a typical school environment. Using the latest technology, UEA meets the educational needs of each student and works closely with schools to provide tutoring that exceeds expectations. Upper Echelon Academy has an extensive background in designing and delivering curriculum and has established a cohesive relationship with respected schools across North America.

Visit upperechelonacademy.com for more information.

For more information about USEF Sponsorship, please contact Lauren Carlisle at lcarlisle@usef.org.

From the USEF Communications Department