Category Archives: Pony

Germany Takes Almost Every Medal at FEI European Championships for Ponies

Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel and Massimiliano 3, gold individual and freestyle dressage (FEI/Sanne Kolind)

Lausanne (SUI), 23 August 2016 – The Danish National Equestrian Centre, Vilhelmsborg was pleased to welcome the best ponies in Europe from around 22 different nationalities, to compete at FEI European Championship for Ponies sponsored by Equsana from the 17-21 August 2016.

There is no doubt that Vilhelmsborg was exited to welcome one of this year’s most spectacular events on Danish grounds when hosting the FEI European Championships for Ponies in the three disciplines of Jumping, Dressage and Eventing. With huge support from the municipality of Aarhus, Vilhelmsborg is fully equipped to welcome the many international riders and their ponies.

Three Spectacular Arenas

Vilhelmsborg have made use of a total of 50 hectares of land, to create the three arenas for the championships. The jumping and dressage arenas were pre-established but both have been upgraded and are now ready for both the audience and participants. The eventing course is a total of 3.8 km long and built by the Swedish course designer Lars Christensson and Team Jørgensen from Kalundborg.

The dressage arena was located in the beautiful settings of the courtyard surrounded by the stables. The jumping arena was the main arena; here there were plenty of life in the shape of 30 different stands and a catering area.

Best Dressage Ponies in Europe

The dressage team competition successfully kicked off Wednesday at the Europeans where 29 riders and ponies competed in the first part of the test, while the remaining 32 riders competed on Thursday. 15 nations participated in the team competition which the audience watched with great excitement. Nobody could beat the impressive results of Germany, Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel and Massimiliano 3, Tabea Schroer and Danilo 80, Inga Katharina Schuster and NK Cyrill, Tabea Schroer and Danilo 80, who claimed gold with a team score of 222.666.   Host nation Denmark was rewarded with silver for a score of 217.513 while Holland received bronze with 216.077.

Friday was also the day for the first part of the individual dressage test in which 36 riders and ponies competed. Once again Germany showed their great talents with four riders placed in the leading positions: Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel and Massimiliano 3 was placed as best in class on a score of 76.244, second was Inga Katharina Schuster and NK Cyrill on 75.293, third was Tabea Schroer and Danilo 80 on 73.878 and the last German, Eileen Henglein and Cinderella M WE, were in fourth on 72.366.

On Saturday 25 riders and ponies competed in the second half of the individual championship with Danish rider Louise Christensen and Vegelins Goya the best of the day’s competitors, moving into third with a score of 72.585. However, Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel and Massimiliano held on to their overnight lead and took the gold – none of the other competitors could reach this stunning gelding and it’s talented 12-year old rider, with the audience loving their high quality performance and the way they made everything seem so easy. Finishing in silver was Germany’s Inga Katharina Schuster and her pony NK Cyrill, while Denmark’s Louise Christensen and Vegelins Goya won the bronze medal.

As it was a sunny Sunday at Vilhelmsborg the dressage freestyle test was a very successfully event and a huge audience attended the entertaining test to music. The German riders dominated the competition once again with Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel and Massimiliano winning a third gold medal and Tabea Schroer on Danilo again winning silver. Danish Louise Christensen on Vegelins Goya again won bronze.

Everything Can Happen in Eventing

The Eventing riders had their first ride in the team competition when 25 riders and their ponies performed their dressage test on Thursday. The second half of the team competition was finished Friday with the remaining 25 riders. After the dressage test the Germans put themselves in a very strong position as their first three riders were placed 1st, 2nd and 4th. The British riders ranked second all performing with great intensity – they had with them a dedicated team of supporters who had dressed up in Union Jacks and were cheering on the side at every test. The Belgians placed in third after the Dressage. Saturday saw the Eventers head out on the cross country course, with Germany’s Calvin Böckmann with Askaban B keeping his place in the lead of the competition on his dressage score of 38.3. In second position were Anna Lena Shaaf with Pearl 98, also from Germany on 41.4, and third was Great Britain’s Saffron Cresswell with Cuffesgrange Little Ric on 44.10. All three had a great round around the new and stunning cross country track, showing off high speed and well prepared ponies. The track was difficult but also highly technical, which was a huge challenge to many besides the top three riders.

In the Team competition there were eight teams competing, and after the cross country Germany held the leading position, once again showing great power and strength with their young pony riders who were performing their absolute best, France moved up into second and Great Britain in third, with Belgium moving out of their bronze position after dressage after some riders finding the cross country challenging. But much could still happen, when the riders were to hit the show jumping arena on Sunday morning.

On Sunday the eventing riders took to the large show jumping arena for the final day of the European Championships competition. Both the individual as well as team medals were given away, and also here Germany showed their strength winning both competitions. In the team Germany were clear leaders with a difference of almost 20 penalties between them and Great Britain who placed second. France took home the bronze. In the individual competition Anna Lena Schaaff and Pearl 98 jumped a clear round to take Gold, finishing on her dressage score of 41.4 and overtaking fellow teammate Calvin Böckmann and Askaban B, who had a very unexpected and expensive stop at one of the first fences on the course, moving them down to silver on a final score of 43.3. The bronze-medal was given to the Belgian rider, Jarno Verwimp and the 6-year-old pony Edition Limitee Dew Drop who jumped a clear round, moving them up from fifth place after cross country to finish on their dressage score of 44.3. A costly fence down meant Great Britain’s Saffron Cresswell, third after cross country, moved out of the medals to finish in fifth.

A very surprised and touched Anna Lena Schaaf said after the medal ceremony: “I am very pleased and it is yet quite unbelievable. I think I won’t realize what just happened before I get back home.”

Exciting Show Jumping Final

On the show jumping course 54 riders completed the first qualification of the individual and team competition Thursday, with Norway’s Sanne Sørlie putting herself and her pony Oldrock Megan into the lead after a fast clear round, with 27 rider and pony combinations cleared the course faultlessly.

On Friday’s team competition it was the Italian team who claimed gold on a score of 12, with one rider, Priscilla Pigozzi Garofalo and Poetic Justice Cassio, jumping three clear rounds. Silver was given to the team from Sweden and bronze went to Great Britain. These two teams had the same score of 20 penalties in total after both rounds resulting in a jump off. Unfortunately, Great Britain’s Jack Whitaker ended up with 4 penalties and Hallie Lunn had 8 penalties which dropped them below Sweden who had three great clear rounds with riders Elsa Johansson, Michelle Cranning Hillgren, Ingemar Hammerström and Tilda Eldh.

In Sunday’s final of individual show jumping it was Great Britain’s Jack Whitaker with the pony Elando Van De Roshoeve ending with 4 penalties who claimed the gold. Leader from first round Rowen Can De Mheen with Quaprice d’Astre had a refusal at fence 4, and received silver with 5 penalties. As third was the German Antonia Ercken with Crazy Hardbreaker SP WE who won bronze with 7 penalties after the day’s two rounds.

Results:

FEI European Pony Team Dressage Championship: GOLD – Germany 222.666: Massimiliano 3 (Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel) 75.051, Danilo 80 (Tabea Schroer) 74.538, NK Cyrill (Inga Katharina Schuster) 73.077, Cinderella M WE (Eileen Henglein) 71.205. SILVER – Denmark 217.513: Vegelins Goya (Louise Christensen) 73.615, Der Harlekin B (Sara Aagaard Hyrm) 72.436, Lilo L (Kristian Würtz Green) 71.462, Gambys Hanneken WE (Victoria Bonefeld Dahl) 70.231. BRONZE – Holland 216.077: Wounderful Girl (Daphne Van Peperstraten) 73.128, Elin’s Noncisdador (Zoe Kuintjes) 72.590, Charina Du Bois (Jitske Prosman) 70.487.

FEI European Pony Individual Dressage Championship: GOLD – Germany: Massimiliano (Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel) 76.244. SILVER – NK Cyrill (Inga Katharina Schuster) 75.293. BRONZE – Vegelins Goya (Louise Christensen) 74.073.

FEI European Pony Freestyle Championship:  GOLD – Germany: Massimiliano 3 (Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel) 81.125. SILVER – Germany: Danilo 80 (Tabea Schroer) 77.450. BRONZE – Denmark: Vegelins Goya (Louise Christensen) 76.175.

FEI European Pony Team Jumping Championship: GOLD – Italy 12 fault: Donja (Camilla Mainardi) 7/11/4, Manisha 2 (Alessandro Orlandi) 0/4/4, Rock Dee Jay (Sofia Manzetti) 4/0/0, Poetic Justice Cassio (Priscilla Pigozzi Garofalo 0/0/0. SILVER – Sweden 20 faults: Ballygawleys Little Ferro (Elsa Johansson) 0/12/8/0, Wischin Chin M (Michelle Cranning Hillgren) 0/0/48/0, Ocean Des AS (Ingemar Hammarström) 0/4/0/0, Miclas Aristocrat (Tilda Eldh) 8/4/4/0. BRONZE – Great Britain 20 faults: Sultan Du Bary (Allana Clutterbuck) 0/4/4/0, Elando Van De Roshoeve (Jack Whitaker) 0/4/0/4, Javas Alun (Hallie Lunn) 4/0/48/8

FEI European Pony Individual Jumping Championship: GOLD – Great Britain: Elando Van De Roshoeve (Jack Whitaker) 4 penalties. SILVER – Holland: Quaprice d’Astree (Rowen Van De Mheen) 5 penalties. BRONZE – Germany: Crazy Hardbreaker SP WE (Antonia Ercken) 7 penalties.

FEI European Pony Eventing Team Championship: GOLD – Germany 135.60: Pearl 98 (Anna Lena Schaaf), Askaban B (Calvin Böckmann), Nadeem 2 (Libussa Lübbeke), Mondeo 34 (Johanna Schulze Rhier). SILVER – Great Britain 153.70: Cuffesgrange Little Ric (Saffron Cresswell), Drop the Subjekt (Anya Kolleth), Alfie (Eloise Carter), Sycamore Lad (Molly Meg Faulkner). BRONZE – France 161.90: Podeenagh Aluinn (Melissa Prevost), Olympe des Bois (Alban Moulliere), Risketou Maneti (Camilla Lucas), Tohing Song d’Aven (Quetin Gonzales).

FEI European Pony Eventing Individual Championship: GOLD – Germany: Pearl 98 (Anna Lena Schaaf) 41.40. SILVER – Askaban B (Calvin Böckmann) 43.40. BRONZE – Edition Limitee Dew Drop (Jarno Verwimp) 44.30.

By Tonya Bille Nielsen

Media Contact:

Leanne Williams
Manager Press Relations
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Caroline Passarelli Captures US Pony Medal Finals Championship Title

Caroline Passarelli and News Flash.

Lexington, Ky. – August 14, 2016 – Many of the top equitation riders did not become the talented athletes that they are overnight. It is a big commitment during one’s junior years, both financially and socially. Riding at the top level, especially in the equitation ranks, takes a team of skilled horses, hard work, lots of practice, and a good support system of family, trainers, grooms, and other barn staff.

For Caroline Passarelli, of High Falls, New York, all of the ingredients for a prosperous career are already there. Passarelli is currently a working student at Heritage Farm, training under the expertise of Patricia Griffith and Dottie Barnwell-Areson. At only 14-years old, not only is she well-spoken, mature and sweet, she is also not afraid of hard work.

On the final day of U.S. Pony Finals, Passarelli swept the Pony Medal Finals against other top-notch riders on News Flash, who is owned by Annabelle Sanchez. Passarelli was originally supposed to show a pony that she knows well, Heritage Farm’s Blue Chip, but was unable to when he was not feeling himself.

Being the humble, young rider she is, she went with the flow and trusted Patricia Griffith when she said she knew of a possible pony to borrow. It was a wise decision, and Griffith knew that they would make a good match.

“We want to thank both the Gandamorts and the trainer, the Champees, and the owner of the pony, Annabelle Sanchez, because they all really came to the rescue,” Griffith said.

“We knew Blue Chip wasn’t looking good two days ago, and I reached out to Eleanor Cunsmen, who also trains the Champees,” Griffiths continued. “They just stepped right up and were like, ‘we’re here for you, and if you need us, let us know.’ It was unbelievable, the generosity on their part, to just step right in, as well as the Champee family and Alex. It was so nice, it moved me.”

Passarelli said she felt at ease aboard News Flash as soon as she took the reins this morning.

“I could tell when I got on he was a good match, and he was really willing and brave, and had a great change. He was everything you would want in a medal pony, especially at the last minute,” Passarelli noted. “I was just thinking I want to give him the best ride I possibly could with the limited experience I had with him and just go in and try to lay it down.”

Griffith said that it was imperative that she find her very deserving student a solid mount for this class.

“It’s very important to me since I was a working student myself,” Griffith said. “She really tries hard and she’s one of those kids that the whole show really wants to be behind. I wanted to really give her every opportunity because she really makes the most out of them all.”

In addition to riding and showing ponies, Passarelli also shows in the THIS Medal and 3’3″ Junior Hunters. She is aspiring to show in the 3’6″ divisions by next year, and hopefully qualify for the Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Finals.

This was a great way to make a comeback from last year’s Pony Medal Finals, in which Passarelli had a rail down, and therefore did not get called back to the top twenty.

Even more impressive is the fact that Passarelli went in cold without doing the warm-up trip, and still laid down two solid rounds. Passarelli was asked to have a work-off on the flat against Augusta Iwasaki. In the end, judges awarded the championship to Passarelli.

Finishing as the reserve champion was Augusta Iwaskai, and in third place was Christina Rogalny.

The young superstar in the making proves that determination and perseverance will pay off in the end. There is no doubt that Passarelli will continue to make the team at Heritage Farm extremely proud.

“I have to start by thanking the Champee family so much for lending him to me at the very last minute because without them it would not be possible,” Passarelli said, elated. “Also, I can’t thank Patricia and Dottie enough.”

Passarelli’s victory in the U.S. Pony Medal Finals marked the conclusion of the U.S. Pony Finals, but competition will continue at the Kentucky Horse Park beginning on Tuesday with the Pre-Green Incentive Championship, followed by the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals on Friday and Saturday. For more information please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.

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

Natalie Jayne Pilots Woodlands Stevie Ray to Second Medium Pony Hunter Championship

Natalie Jayne and Woodlands Stevie Ray.

Gold Medal Goes to Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher in Pony Jumper Individual Final

Lexington, Ky. – August 13, 2016 – A little on-again, off-again sprinkling of rain at the Kentucky Horse Park did not interfere with Natalie Jayne’s impressive ride on Woodlands Stevie Ray in the Medium Pony Hunter division at this year’s U.S. Pony Finals.

Saturday’s over-fences section saw 167 of the best medium ponies in the country jump around the Walnut Arena, but it was Jayne and “Stevie” who walked away with the blue ribbon. In the under-saddle phase, the pair came in 21st out of a large class. Stevie is owned by Hannah Bernstein.

The 12-year-old rider from Elgin, Illinois trains with her mother, Lynn Jayne, at their Our Day Farm. She is also trained by Patricia Griffith of Heritage Farm and Kristen Carollo of Courtyard Farm.

Jayne got the catch ride on Stevie when his current leaser, Emily Aitken, had to decide between him or her other medium pony, Cleverist. Aitken chose the latter, and that meant that Jayne only had a short amount of time to figure out how to ride the 12-year-old gelding, who was also champion last year at U.S. Pony Finals in the same division with Alexa Aureliano. Luckily, the pair clicked right away.

“He rides a lot like a horse. He’s my kind of ride,” Jayne acknowledged. “I practiced a lot this week and jumped around the course, but he’s pretty easy to get used to.”

Perhaps some of Jayne’s innate talent in riding comes from her passion for all animals, especially horses and ponies. This affinity began at a very young age.

“I’ve always liked being around animals, so it’s nice to be able to interact with them,” she said. “I started riding since I was born, basically. I’d stand on the pommel of the saddle and my mom would walk around and cool out her horses. So I’ve been riding forever.”

While warming up, Jayne’s trainers emphasized getting Stevie moving forward off of her leg before beginning the course.

“They said just to make sure I got him going before the first jump – he’s lazy. And, to make sure he didn’t swap off to the right lead,” Jayne said.

Natalie’s mother, Lynn said that her calm disposition that can easily adjust to different types of ponies is what sets her apart from the rest.

“She’s very easy going and nothing really gets to her,” noted Lynn. “Last year, when she was in the Pony Medal, that was a catch ride who she’d never ridden before. She is just one with the horse and it’s easy for her to adapt.”

Natalie has also accumulated many top wins on horses recently. In addition to her Small Junior Hunter, Outlook, with whom she most recently won a class at Junior Hunter Finals, she also has a jumper. She is looking forward to showing at Pessoa Medal Finals and ASPCA Maclay Regionals in the fall.

The Woodlands Pony Farm’s Kay Randoph was elated when she found out that the pony she had bred ended up in the winner’s circle at U.S. Pony Finals for the second year in a row. The farm is located in Brodnax, Virginia.

“I’m super proud of him and I’m so happy to come out and see him all braided up,” she said, beaming.

“We have a big farm and they’re all pretty much just born in a paddock. They live a good life. Then, when their attitude is good we’ll get them ready. We try to get them at least green broke,” Randoph said.

Stevie is a Welsh Pony cross by Woodlands Velvet Rain, out of Woodlands Fire-n-Ice. The ponies that Randoph has bred over the years are all special, and usually she finds out that most of the ponies she has raised and sold have qualified for U.S. Pony Finals.

“I think on average we would have like 16 to 18 ponies that will qualify each year,” said Randoph. “They can be any age, from five year olds on up… We’ve had some come here in their 20s.”

Capturing the reserve championship prize was Hunter Champey and Annabelle Sanchez’s News Flash. Together, they were thirteenth over-fences and second in the hack. During Thursday’s model phase, the judges gave News Flash a tenth place ribbon in a large crowd of ponies.

“I just kept calm and rode. My day was going great; I knew I just had to go in and keep a nice, easy canter,” Champey said.

“My twin sister rode News Flash last year, and we just switched this year,” Champey stated. “The owner keeps texting my older sister asking about the pony. He’s just a great pony. His owner is going to be very excited, I already know.”

Gold Medal Goes to Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher in Pony Jumper Individual Final

In his final junior year and second time at Pony Finals, 17-year-old Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher captured the victory in the 2016 U.S. National Pony Jumper Championships Individual Final.

Doloff and Dasher, as he’s called, turned in an eight-fault round to start off the night, creating a three-way tie for the lead with Isabella Durnell and Carlton Diva, and Maya Lovdal and Miracles Happen.

Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher
Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher

“In the first round, I got a little bit forward at the combination, and he got flat,” Doloff said. “I had the back rails down. I surprisingly felt less pressure when I did that – I’m not sure why, but I felt better after that.”

As the night continued, nobody was able to break the tie for the lead, so the top three riders from round one returned for a jump-off to settle the score.

Durnell and Carlton Diva returned first and went clear to set the early time to beat at 35.775 seconds. Lovdal and Miracles Happen were next to attempt the short course, and lowered two heights to finish on a time of 36.244 seconds.

Doloff was last to take the stage, entering the ring confidently with Dasher to take over the lead, going clear in a time of 33.327 seconds. Lovdal finished with the bronze medal, and Durnell with the silver medal.

“Dasher is naturally quicker than most ponies,” Doloff said. “Even when I’m not really pushing, he has a faster step, so I knew that I didn’t have to take any crazy gambles, because I knew that he would be fine. I knew I still had to keep the rails up, so I just tried to nail each fence as quickly as I could without losing my mind like I did last year.”

After Doloff unfortunately went off course during his first Pony Finals last year, he said that coming back this year and winning feels incredible.

“This is a fantastic comeback, and I just think that this was great, because after last year I was really down,” Doloff explained. “I was making a lot of mistakes, and I was going off course, and I was at my lowest point. I went to Capital Challenge, and I was in the lead, ready to win, and then I completely blew it in the jump-off.”

After his trainer, Dorna Taintor, recommended that Doloff read up on sports psychology, Doloff said his luck began to change as he learned how to relax and change his perspective going into the ring,

“I just worked on putting everything in perspective,” Doloff continued. “At the end of the day, it’s just a show. Whatever happens, happens, and there’s going to be more shows in the future. It’s about preparing for the next one.”

Doloff said he began leasing Dasher three years ago, and only planned to lease the talented pony for one year to compete in pony racing. However, as Doloff discovered the pony’s scope over fences, the plans changed, and the duo began training to compete in the Pony Jumpers with the goal of competing at Pony Finals.

“The first year was just getting to know each other, and we realized he could jump big but he wasn’t really in a program, so we were just galloping around,” Doloff said. “We’d go to a race one week and then go to a horse show, which was a bit counterproductive.

“I think the turning point was in my second year with him. We went to Devon Fall Classic in 2014, and I didn’t really know what a formal show was. I had to borrow a man’s tweed jacket and tie, and I’m wearing too-small pants, and I have a blue saddle pad. It was the most ridiculous thing ever. We got second, and it was the first time we did 1.05m, and he did fantastic. I think it was when we finally got real clothes.”

The 2016 U.S. Pony Finals will wrap up on Sunday with the Pony Medal.

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 Named Grand Champion at 2016 US Hunter Pony Championship

Mimi Gochman and Storyteller (Shawn McMillen Photography)

Woodlands Stevie Ray Collects Medium Regular Hunter Pony Champion Honors

Lexington, Ky. – The US Hunter Pony Championships presented by Sallee Horse Vans came to a close on Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park. Medium Regular Hunter Ponies went to task in the Walnut Arena in their Over Fences phase to determine the 2016 Champion. Natalie Jayne and Woodlands Stevie Ray emerged victorious on Saturday afternoon, but it was Wednesday’s Large Regular Hunter Pony champion, Storyteller, that proved unbeatable as he was named the Grand Champion Hunter Pony of the 2016 US Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm.

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.

Mimi Gochman (Wellington, Fla.) and Fair Play Farm’s Storyteller earned an excellent score of 1040.80 to win the Large Regular Hunter Pony Championship on Wednesday. As the highest scoring Regular Hunter pony, she and the 13-year-old German Sport Pony gelding claimed the Grand Champion Hunter Pony title.

Read more about Storyteller’s Large Regular Hunter Pony Championship.

Claire Campbell (Glen Allen, Va.) and her own Roll Call, an 11-year-old German Riding Pony gelding, received a score of the 1026.32 to claim top honors in the Small Regular Hunter Pony Championship, thus earning them the Reserve Grand Champion Hunter Pony title.

Read more about Roll Call’s Small Regular Hunter Pony Championship.

Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship

Jayne (Elgin, Ill.) and Woodlands Stevie Ray scored the Medium Regular Hunter Pony title with an overall score of 1003.07, winning “Stevie” his second consecutive title in the championship. After earning 236.02 in the Model phase and 253.55 in the Under Saddle phase, she and Hannah Bernstein’s 12-year-old Welsh Pony Cross gelding climbed from 20th place to the top of the leaderboard with a win in the Over Fences phase with a score of 256.75.

“He won two years in a row which is good for him. I haven’t shown him anywhere else so it was fun to ride him here. I didn’t have a ride here, so [Emily Aitken] offered me ‘Stevie’, which is a very good ride, so I was quite happy,” Jayne said. “I just had to make sure I got him going before the first jump because he is lazy and that he didn’t swap off the right lead.”

The Reserve Champion title went to Hunter Champey (Far Hills, N.J.) and News Flash with an overall score of 998.14. She and 11-year-old Welsh Pony gelding received scores of 245.49 and 262.65 in the Model and Under Saddle phases, respectively. The pair’s Over Fences phase garnered a score of 245.00 on Saturday.

Kierstin Antoniadis (Middletown, N.Y.) and Peacock Ridge LLC’s No Drama finished third in the Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship with an overall score of 993.19. On Friday, she and the 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood/Welsh Pony mare scored 239.29 in the Model phase and 255.94 in the Under Saddle phase. The pair climbed 10 places on the strength of their Over Fences performance, which scored 248.98.

In the Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship, the Best Presented Pony was Rock Star presented by Sofia Roberts and the Best Turned Out Pony was Vermont Ruby Fox, ridden by Anna Richardson.

The US Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm will conclude Sunday with the Marshall & Sterling/US Pony Medal Finals on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. ET in Alltech Arena. The live stream on the USEF Network is presented by the USHJA Foundation.

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.

CORRECTION: From Friday’s Large Green Hunter Pony Championship, Madeline Schaefer is a resident of Westminster, Md., and Baby Blue is 10-year-old Welsh Cross Pony gelding owned by Patricia LaFoe.

From the USEF Communications Department

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