Category Archives: Pony

The Benefits of Being a SEMF Show in 2016

Southeast Medal Finals, in its 4th year of existence, “has gained popularity and its growth has surpassed my wildest of expectations,” said show creator and manager James Lala. “This past year, we had an incredible 92 competitors in the Phelps Medial Group Southeast Junior Medal Finals, which left me beyond words excited.” One thing is for sure: the staggering growth and participation is a true testament to the need for an event like this. Exhibitors can qualify at any show in the US or Canada and need not be USEF or CEF sanctioned. The criteria for qualification are significantly easier at SEMF Member Events (Sanctioned Shows).

From a managerial standpoint, there are only benefits to being a SEMF Member Event:

  • There is no sanctioning fee to apply to become a member event
  • Riders and trainers are given an obtainable & prestigious finals
  • Our finals are geared towards EVERYONE
  • Helps expand the local & grass roots industry
  • Classes fit easily into a busy schedule
  • All SEMF classes can be combined with other similar classes, or run separately
  • No fee is required to run SEMF classes
  • Increase in your show’s entries
  • Advertising by SEMF including links and logos on the SEMF Website
  • Application is simple and can be done fully online at the SEMF Website

Riders, Trainers & Parents, be sure to ask your favorite show organization, manager or series to become a SEMF Member Event!

Southeast Medal Finals Fast Facts:

Southeast Medal Finals, modeled after the New England Medal Finals, offers a special end of season culmination and finals show that is both attainable and affordable for everyone.

Southeast Fall Festival maximizes use of the Coliseum for a fantastic prep for those headed to indoors and a wonderful way to end the season for those staying home.

Equitation Finals:

  • Junior 3′ Medal Finals
  • The Riding Habit Adult Medal Finals
  • The GGT Footing 2’6″ Children’s Medal Finals
  • The Ovation 2’6″ Adult Medal Finals
  • Pony Medal Finals
  • Children’s Pony Medal Finals

Hunter Finals:

  • The Tenney’s Custom Saddlery Children’s Hunter Finals
  • Adult Hunter Finals
  • 2’6″ Adult Hunter Finals
  • 2’6″ Children’s Hunter Finals
  • Junior Hunter Finals
  • Amateur Owner Hunter Finals
  • Pony Hunter Finals
  • Children’s Pony Hunter Finals

Jumper Finals:

  • The Boy-O-Boy Bridleworks Low Children’s Jumper Finals
  • High Children’s Jumper Finals
  • Low Adult Jumper Finals
  • High Adult Jumper Finals
  • Low Junior Jumper Finals
  • Low Amateur Owner Jumper Finals


James Lala
(561) 906-6668

Sponsorship and Advertising
Paula Taylor (561) 629-2977

General Information, Membership & Sanctioning:
Alexis Newman (904) 993-2053

Laura Robertson Tops $5,000 Royal Pony Jumper Final at 2015 Royal Horse Show

Laura Robertson. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Toronto, Ontario – Laura Robertson of Toronto, ON topped the $5,000 Royal Pony Jumper Final, presented by William Tilford and Marion Cunningham of Marbill Hill Farm, on Sunday, November 15, at the Royal Horse Show®. The competition officially closed out The 93rd Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in downtown Toronto, ON.

In a fairytale ending to the Royal Horse Show, Robertson and a chestnut pony called Royal took top call in the featured class for pony jumpers. Pony-size speed was showcased as Royal, owned by Charlotte Millar, carried Robertson to victory over 14 entries. They were the fastest of three double-clear efforts breaking the timer beam in a blistering 27.36 seconds.

More than two seconds behind Robertson, second-place rider Raphaelle Ferreira of Prevost, QC stopped the clock at 29.90 seconds riding her own Montreux. Ferreira’s top finish, coupled with a sixth-place ribbon in the $2,500 Royal Pony Jumper Welcome held Saturday, November 14, clinched her the Royal Pony Jumper Championship. Camille Huppe of St. Eustache, QC aboard Texas, owned by Susana Tezanos-Moreno, collected third on Sunday with a 31.03-second jump-off time. They were also second on Saturday to earn the Reserve Champion title.

Melinda Dupont of Mount Albert, ON and her own Snapchat were clean over the original track to advance to the jump-off, but suffered elimination to settle in fourth. Jumping to the fastest four-fault effort in the first round, Grace Munro of Wolfville, NS rounded out the top five in the irons of her own Ever So Clever.

Kilby Brunner Deforest topped the $2,500 Royal Pony Jumper Welcome, the first class of the division, on Saturday. Her partner was Barkway Topaz, an English-bred Welsh pony owned by her mother, Kirsten Brunner. Barkway Topaz did double duty at the Royal Horse Show®, also showing in driving competition with his owner.

The Royal Pony Jumper Division celebrated its third year calling The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair home, and welcomed riders from four provinces – Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island – to Ricoh Coliseum. The division’s two classes were generously presented by William Tilford and Marion Cunningham, who were in attendance on Sunday to congratulate the riders on their accomplishments.

“Pony jumpers are the first step in developing riders that can go forward, think on the fly, and handle a wide variety of obstacles, terrain and approaches,” said Cunningham, who operates Marbill Hill Farm in Bradford West Gwillimbury, ON. “We are proud to support this competition at the Royal Horse Show®, and proud to encourage the future of show jumping sport.”

After ten days of top competition, featuring pint-sized ponies and World Cup Champions alike, the Royal Horse Show wrapped its 2015 season with excitement already building for the event in 2016, which will return to downtown Toronto November 4-13, 2016.

For more information on the Royal Horse Show, the marquee event of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, please visit

Funding support for The Royal has been provided by the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario.

About The Royal
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is the world’s largest combined indoor agricultural and equestrian show. This year, the 93rd Royal Agricultural Winter Fair runs November 6-15, 2015 at Exhibition Place, Toronto. For competition schedules, live webcasting, results and to purchase tickets, please visit

Contact: Jennifer Ward
Jump Media
Cell: (613) 292-5439

Farah Rizvi Pilots Glynhafan Red Kestral to Grand Champion Pony Title at WIHS

Farah Rizvi Pilots Glynhafan Red Kestral to Grand Champion Pony Title at WIHS

Mimi Gochman Tops WIHS Pony Equitation Finals; Ali O’Brien and Jack Graham Win in Regional Championships

Washington, D.C. – October 25, 2015 – The 57th Annual Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) came to a close on Sunday after another historic week of show jumping, hunter, equitation competition in the nation’s capital by celebrating pony and local champions at Verizon Center in downtown Washington D.C. The Miles River Moonglow Perpetual Trophy, donated by Scott Novick & Rustic Woods, was presented to Peacock Ridge, LLC’s Glynhafan Red Kestral and rider Farah Rizvi, of Wellington, FL, for Grand Champion Pony honors. The WIHS Pony Equitation Finals were held in the afternoon with a win for Mimi Gochman, and the WIHS Regional Finals capped the day with blue ribbons presented to Ali O’Brien and Jack Graham.

Rizvi dominated pony competition at WIHS aboard Glynhafan Red Kestral, a 10-year-old Welsh Pony gelding. In addition to taking home Grand Champion, she boasted a tricolor in the Large Pony Hunter Division, as well as The Captain V. S. Littauer Perpetual Trophy, donated by Hugh J. B. Cassidy, III, Mrs. William Dillon, and Miss Marion Lee, for Best Child Rider on a Pony, sponsored by Gotham North.

“It’s really exciting to be in such a big arena where other big sports happen. It’s usually grand prix classes that get to go in rings like this, but this makes us feel like we are a big event too,” said Rizvi.

For Rizvi, WIHS was one of the biggest goals she set for herself this year and in turn was one of the her highlight victories. “I think he [Glynhafan Red Kestral] really liked it here. He likes audiences and today it was like he saw all the people and knew everyone was watching him,” she said.

In the Large Pony Hunter Division, Rizvi and Glynhafan Red Kestral were first and third over fences before winning the stake on a score of 87 to take home The Pegasus Stable Perpetual Trophy, donated by Ms. Fenwick Kollock. Reserve Champion was presented to Augusta Iwasaki and Kingston, owned by Ava Peck, after a first and second over fences.

While Rizvi has only had the ride on Glynhafan Red Kestral for several months, the pair has quickly formulated a knack for wins. “She only took over the reins starting in the summer and she was away a lot, so for her to be able to step up and shine on this pony is a trainer’s dream,” said Rizvi’s trainer Christine Trigger. “I had goosebumps for her – it’s such a big accomplishment. For me, it doesn’t get any better than Washington. This is a milestone show and to get a pony to step up and win here lets you know that you have a phenomenal animal.”

Rizvi acknowledged that she has recently been practicing her dressage movements in preparation to compete in FEI Pony competition at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival this winter and the extra practice may have helped her in Washington. “I think my dressage lessons have helped with my position, and all the practicing at home has made my ponies go better on the flat and helped with the jumping,” she said.

Farah was not the only Rizvi to shine at WIHS this year – her younger sister Zayna jumped Swingtown to Champion in the Medium Pony Hunter Champion and earned The Shenandoah Sundowner Perpetual Trophy, donated by Evan Coluccio and Ashmont Farms, Ltd. Swingtown, owned by Peacock Ridge, LLC, jumped to two sixth-place finishes over fences and won both the stake and under saddle. Hannah Hoch and her own Anisette were second twice over fences and fourth under saddle to claim Reserve Champion in the Medium Pony Hunter Division.

Sophie Gochman and Dr. Betsee Parker’s Love Me Tender claimed the Small Pony Hunter Championship, presented by Further Lane Farm and were awarded The Stombock Saddlery Challenge Trophy, donated by Stombock Saddlery in Memory of E. P. (Bud) Stombock. Gochman and Love Me Tender were first and third over fences, in addition to third in the stake and second under saddle. Trading off wins with Gochman, Libbie Gordon and Bibby Hill’s Baby Blue were Reserve Champions for small ponies after first and second over fences, and sixth under saddle.

Continuing the success of small ponies at WIHS, Claire Campbell and Armani, owned by Maher Family, LLC, jumped to the highest stake score of an 89 to earn the Best Pony Hunter Stake Award. The head-turning trip also won Campbell the EQUUS Best Performance Award for a child on a pony, as well as the Potomac Trophy for the high score junior hunter rider on a pony.

Mimi Gochman Wins 2015 WIHS Pony Equitation Finals

Later on Sunday, young riders competed in the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals with a win for 11-year-old Mimi Gochman of New York, NY. Trained by Scott Stewart, Gochman rode Fair Play Farm’s Storyteller to a score of 85 over fences. She came out on top after the judges tested the top four over another shortened course. Gochman was presented with the Jane Marshall Dillon Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by the friends and students of Mrs. Jane Marshall Dillon for the win.

Mimi Gochman and Storyteller
Mimi Gochman and Storyteller

Tessa P. Brown had the high score of 87 in her first round over fences and finished in second place after the test riding Radiance. Elly Ficca scored an 86 in the first round and placed third overall with It’s All Good. Caroline Ellis scored an 84 in round one and returned for the test with Cozy Up to finish fourth.

“It was really awesome to win,” Gochman stated. “My pony is the best for this kind of thing. He is easy to transition, nice jump, good for sitting – I can maybe do everything on that pony. I was a little nervous, but he was really good.”

“After I got the 85, I thought I would go back for testing, but I thought it was going to be a flat phase. I was in the schooling area doing no stirrups, turns on the haunches, sitting trot, sitting trot without stirrups, but then they announced it was jumping,” Gochman noted. “I am also confident on that, but then they told us that we had to go in the ring and have no instruction from our trainers, and that is when I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s scary.’ It was challenging, but Story helped me out very well.”

Gochman has been competing on ponies at WIHS for a few years now and always enjoys her time in the nation’s capital.

“It is really amazing how they can get all the footing in here and all the jumps and still make it safe and not scary,” she acknowledged. “The most interesting thing is being in the city, showing in the city, because it is a different environment for the ponies. It is great that Story can handle that. He does not spook a lot. He does not get scared. He can relax in any environment. I also love going to see the monuments and the White House and it is nice weather here during the fall, so it is nice to be here.”

Regional Winners Crowned at WIHS

Sunday concluded with the culmination of WIHS Regional Hunter Finals, which kicked off last week at the WIHS Regional Horse Show at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD. Ten-year-old Ali O’Brien of McLean, VA and her own Cloud Cover won the final class of the WIHS Regional Pony Hunter Finals, while 13-year-old Jack Graham of Sterling, VA took home blue in the WIHS Regional Hunter Finals.

This year marked the first time O’Brien, who trains with Cindy Newberry, has qualified for the final at WIHS after competing at the WIHS Regional Horse Show the past two years. Her score of an 83 secured the win.

Gabby Cecil and Eyes Up, owned by Sarah K. Hanks, finished second on a 79, while Kate Howlin and Jamrock, owned by Wilson Sporthorse, LLC, took third with a 75. Fielding Stichman and her own Oohpa Loompa were fourth with a 73, and Jacqueline Needle rounded out the top five with her own Frostline on a 71.

“It was fantastic. I can’t really imagine anything else like it,” said O’Brien after her win. “I’ve been riding Cloud Cover for two and a half years and she is fabulous. She has helped me grow as a rider and taught me a lot.”

O’Brien took home Reserve Champion after scores were combined from competition at the WIHS Regional Horse Show, and 12-year-old Howlin earned Champion.

Jack Graham of Sterling, VA piloted Mary Elizabeth Cordia’s Welcome to an 82 and top call in the WIHS Regional Hunter Finals. Courtney Sloan and her own Wallenda were second best on a 78, and Meghan Lane piloted Chestertown, owned by Kimberly Stewart, to a 70 for third. Megan Fitzgerald and City Smarts picked up fourth on a 61 for owners Darpin Enterprises, LLC, while Madeline McManus rounded out the top five on a 55 with her own Invesco 55.

“I was really nervous at the start, but I just went in and rode like I usually do,” said Graham concerning his first appearance at WIHS. “I was just excited to show here and it was a great experience.”

Welcome was Cordia’s main equitation mount for three years before Graham got the ride on the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. No stranger to success at WIHS, Welcome boasts a tricolor in the WIHS Regional Hunter Finals from 2011. “I started doing jumpers, but I still wanted to ride him a little so we made a deal that he would stay at my old barn and my old trainer’s son [Jack] would get to ride him,” said Cordia.

Graham trains with Dave Rifkin and Sue Andrews and has been riding Welcome for just over a year. “He’s the smoothest horse I’ve ever ridden in my life and I just love him so much,” said Graham.

Graham and Welcome earned Reserve Champion for their performance, while Fitzgerald and City Smarts took home The Black, Starr & Frost Perpetual Trophy, donated by Black, Staff & Frost for Champion. For full results, please visit

About Washington International Horse Show,
Established in 1958, the Washington International Horse Show is one of the most prestigious equestrian sporting events in the U.S. More than 26,000 spectators attend the six-day show, which includes Olympic-level competition along with community and charity events. More than 500 top horses and riders come to D.C. from all over the globe to jump for more than a half a million dollars in prize money. Event highlights include the $125,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Washington, presented by Events DC, for the President’s Cup (Saturday night), The Boeing Company Puissance high jump competition on Military Night (Friday) and Kids’ Day (Saturday), a free, fun and educational community event. The Washington International Horse Show Association, Ltd. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. WIHS is an official USEF Heritage Competition and is recognized as a Top 25 Horse Show by the North American Riders Group. WIHS is rated CSI4*-W by the Fédération Equestre Internationale, the world governing body for horse sports.

Sophie Gochman Leads Victory Gallop in Pony Medal at U.S. Pony Finals

Sophie Gochman.

Lexington, KY – August 9, 2015 – Beginning early Sunday morning, 174 young riders and their ponies took their turns around the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park Friday, with each hoping to claim the coveted honor of Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Champion by day’s end. Ultimately, it was Sophie Gochman aboard Rico Suave who outshone the rest to take the top prize following two seamless over fences trips and a stand-out performance in the additional flat testing.

“I’m so excited. I came in here thinking that it would be great if I was in the top 10 because last year I was in the top 25. My goal was to just be top 10, but I never expected to win. I’m so excited, I’m so pumped,” Gochman said. “My heart was in my stomach. I was shaking. Just making the top 10, I achieved my goal.”

After the first phase course, 25 riders and their mounts returned to the limelight for one more trip around the natural track. Having whittled down the field to the top contenders, it was only fitting that the equitation course increased in both options and difficulty level. After starting with a diagonal four-stride line, the riders were already faced with an inside or outside fence option at the third effort, which then affected the long approach to the ivy-covered oxer headed towards the gate. A left-hand rollback gave way to another sharp turn in the opposite direction to a two-stride oxer-to-vertical combination, followed by a turn option to the subsequent vertical. The final fence once again presented riders with a jump option. Gochman opted for all of the reasonable inside tracks, undoubtedly showing off her equitation ability and the pony’s handiness.

“The courses were challenging, especially the long four-stride line and several of the rollbacks. The second course had a lot of rollbacks, and you had to be very careful to land on the correct lead or to get the change quickly. Luckily, Rico is very good at getting his lead changes, which made it a bit easier,” Gochman stated.

The 12-year-old from New York City may have believed the course to have its fair share of challenges, but she hid it well, conquering the tough track and consistently impressing judges Frank Madden and Ken Smith.

“What we found out in the second round is that the cream just wasn’t rising to the top, but Sophie was solid all day,” Madden commented. “When we flatted the top five, they were all within two-and-a-half points of each other, so that had a lot to do with the outcome. Sophie was leading headed into the test and stayed on top.”

“She had two of the most consistent rounds of the day, and she was quite good on the flat, so all of that combined put her at the top for us,” echoed Smith.

The young Gochman was quick to note that it was a team effort that contributed to her win, sharing thank yous by the handful just outside the ring, still dressed in the traditional champion garb with a blue sash hanging off her shoulder.

“I really, really want to thank Amanda [Derbyshire], Scott [Stewart], and Ken [Berkley] for training me, my parents for supporting me with my riding, Gustavo, Rico’s groom, and Dr. Betsee Parker. Although she doesn’t own Rico, but she has given me lots of great rides,” Gochman graciously expressed. “And of course, Rico. I gave him a kiss and made sure that he got a candy.”

Gochman had a repertoire of ponies to choose from but felt that Rico Suave, ‘Rico’ for short, was her best bet at a top placing in the Medal class. Owned by Ponies & Palms Show Stables out of Boca Raton, Florida, the small pony had been one of the 12-year-old’s trusty mounts for two years, and on Sunday, it looked like her choice paid off.

“Rico is so comfortable and brave, even when the jumps are a bit spooky. He has a good stride and a nice lead change, so I think that he was the best-qualified pony of ours. Thinking about all the challenging things in the equitation, he was the best at all of them,” Gochman said. “Plus, he is just so cute.”

Another vital member of Gochman’s support team, trainer Scott Stewart, was right by her side throughout both rounds of competition and the flatwork test, offering useful help to keep the young talent riding her best.

“In round two, it seemed that she was a little more relaxed and was able to have fun since she was so excited about making it to the top 25. I had to tell her to be calm because she was almost a little bit too excited,” Stewart laughed. “She has a naturally nice position and is always working on something. It’s exciting to watch her grow as a rider. She rides a lot and tries to get better. It was great for the week to end this way.”

Gochman plans to revel in her win a bit longer, but soon the young talent will turn her eyes to the next competition on the horizon. She hopes to qualify for the pony classes at the Washington International Horse Show during the Indoor season and eventually move on to the open equitation classes when she “gets a bit bigger.” With many more junior years ahead of her, Gochman is certainly one to keep on the radar.

Boasting another strong performance, Natalie Jayne of Elgin, Illinois earned the title of reserve champion. Third place went to Grace Debney of Hamden, Massachusetts, followed by Ellia Giuliani of Middleburg, Virginia in the fourth spot. Jenna Drago of Aurora, Ohio and Jennifer Staniloff of Setauket, New York rounded out the final two top six spots.

The USEF Pony Finals fun came to an end on Sunday, but competition will continue this week at the Kentucky Horse Park with the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show beginning on Tuesday, August 11.

To learn more about the USEF Pony Finals, please visit, and to find out more about all of the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows, go to

Rebecca Walton for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)

Gochman Claims Gold Medal in M&S/US Pony Medal Finals to Complete 2015 US Pony Finals

Sophie Gochman (Shawn McMillen Photography)

Lexington, Ky. – A week of competition at the 2015 US Pony Finals came to a close Sunday with the most coveted award of the championship. The Marshall & Sterling/US Pony Medal Finals took place in the Alltech Arena with 165 riders vying for top honors in front of judges Frank Madden and Ken Smith. After an especially beautiful first round, Sophie Gochman earned the Marshall & Sterling/US Pony Medal Finals Championship title.

In round one the riders were tested over a demanding course designed by Marc Donovan and Bobby Murphy. Twenty-five riders were called back for round two over a more difficult track to test their equitation skills. After round two, five riders, two from the Small section and three from the Medium section, returned to the ring to be tested on the flat. Gochman, Grace Debney, Jenna Drago, Ellia Giuliani, and Natalie Jayne entered the Alltech Arena to determine the top placings of the Marshall & Sterling/US Pony Medal Finals. In the test, riders were first asked to show walk, posting trot, sitting trot, and canter before reversing direction.

Twelve-year-old Gochman (New York, N.Y.) displayed her proficient equitation to be named the winner and receive the Gold medal in the 2015 Marshall & Sterling/US Pony Medal Finals.

“I’m so excited,” said Gochman. “I came in here thinking it would be great if I was in the Top 10, because last year I was in the Top 25. So my goal this year was to be in the Top 10. I never expected to win and I did. I’m so pumped!”

Gochman noted that the courses were well-designed and brought out the best in her riding.

“I thought that they were challenging, especially the long four and several of the rollbacks. The second course had a lot of rollbacks, so we had to be very careful landing leads and getting lead changes. I found that a bit challenging.”

Eleven-year-old Jayne (Elgin, Ill.) received the Silver medal. The Bronze medal went to 11-year-old Debney (Hampden, Ma.). Thirteen-year-old Giuliani (Middleburg, Va.), the oldest rider in the final field of five, earned fourth place, while 12-year-old Janna Drago (Aurora, Ohio) came in fifth.

The following riders rounded out the top 10 placings:
Sixth – Jennifer Staniloff
Seventh – Augusta Iwasaki
Eighth – Courtney Morton
Ninth – Vanessa Mazzoli
10th – Madeline Flocks

On-demand video highlights, as well as competition recaps, are available at

For results and more, visit

Find out more information about the US Pony Finals.

By Eileen Schnettler

McDougald Earns 2015 Individual Championship at US National Pony Jumper Championships

Stephanie Don, Elizabeth McDougald, and Sarah Davis (l to r) (Shawn McMillen Photography)

Lexington, Ky. – The 2015 US National Pony Jumper Championship, held as part of the US Pony Finals, came to an exciting conclusion on Saturday night with Individual titles up for grabs. Fifteen competitors came back to jump a fourth round over Marc Donovan’s challenging course, with combinations producing their best performances of the week.

Stephanie Don and Elizabeth McDougald entered the Alltech Arena on Saturday tied with zero faults coming forward into the final phase of competition. They both finished with four faults, resulting in a jump-off. McDougald (Lawton, Okla.) of Zone 7/8, riding her own 10-year-old Pony of the Americas gelding, Knock My Sox Off, produced a beautiful clear round in 49.627 seconds, making easy work of the track. The effort earned her the Gold medal as Don finished the jump-off with four faults.

“That was amazing. I was not expecting to go in there and do that well. It made my day,” 18-year-old McDougald said. “This is my third year (at the US Pony Finals) and this is my best result. It’s always been on him, and we’ve never done that well, so it’s amazing.”

Don (San Marino, Calif.) of Zone 9/10, riding Avery Kim’s German Riding Pony gelding, Joel, completed the jump-off with one rail down in 41.267 seconds, putting her in the Silver medal position.

A jump-off for Bronze saw four competitors come back who ended the third round on an overall total of four faults.

The second rider in the jump-off, Sarah Davis (Union, Ky.) of Zone 5, and her own National Treasure, a Welsh Pony Cross mare, was the only pair to finish with zero faults and posted the fastest time of 41.827 seconds to clinch the Individual Bronze medal.

The evening concluded with Charles Smith (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) of Zone 4 being awarded the US Pony Jumper Style Award as the competitor that the judges believed to display the best jumping style of riding throughout the week.

Earlier in the day, Catherine Wilson (Hampton, N.J.) of Zone 2, riding Ponies Unlimited, LLC’s EZ to Spot, a 14-year-old Pony of the Americas gelding, came out on top in the farewell competition.

The US Pony Finals will conclude Sunday with the Marshall & Sterling/US Pony Medal Finals on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. ET in Alltech Arena. The USEF Network will live stream the coveted championship, courtesy of the USHJA Foundation.

For live scoring, results, schedule, and competitor and hospitality information, go to

To learn more about the 2014 US Pony Finals, visit

By Eileen Schnettler

Bit of Laughter Named Grand Champion at 2015 US Hunter Pony Championship

Augusta Iwasaki and Bit of Laughter (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 2015 Champion. Alexa Aureliano and Woodlands Stevie Ray emerged victorious on Saturday afternoon, but it was Thursday’s champion, Bit of Laughter, that proved unbeatable as he was named the 2015 Grand Champion Hunter Pony.

National titles are determined in the hunter championship 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.

Augusta Iwasaki (Calabasas, Calif.) and Chris Iwasaki, Elizabeth Reilly, and her own Bit of Laughter, earned an impressive score of 1033.29 to win the Small Regular Hunter Pony Championship on Thursday. As the highest scoring Regular Hunter pony, she and the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding claimed the Grand Champion Hunter Pony title. This marked Iwasaki’s second Grand Champion title after winning Grand Champion Green Hunter Pony honors with Kingston on Saturday.

Taylor St. Jacques (Glen Allen, Va.) and Glynhafan Red Kestral, Peacock Ridge LLC’s 10-year-old Half Welsh gelding, received a score of the 1025.39 to claim top honors in the Large Regular Hunter Pony Championship, thus earning them the Reserve Grand Champion Hunter Pony title.

Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship

Aureliano (Old Brookville, N.Y.) and Hannah Bernstein’s Woodlands Stevie Ray scored the National title with an overall score of 1000.34. After earning 238.32 in the Model phase and 255.78 in the Under Saddle phase, she and the 11-year-old Welsh Pony Cross gelding climbed from 10th place to the top of the leaderboard with a score of 253.12 in the Over Fences phase.

Alexa Aureliano and Woodlands Stevie Ray (Shawn McMillen Photography)
Alexa Aureliano and Woodlands Stevie Ray (Shawn McMillen Photography)

“It feels amazing,” Aureliano said of winning the Championship, her first title in the four years she has been attending the US Pony Finals. After fine tuning their partnership through the summer, the pair peaked at the right time. Commenting on today’s course, Aureliano explained that “it was really, really fun. It’s really nice and smooth; it’s just right out of stride.”

The Reserve Champion title went to Devin Seek (Ocala, Fla.) and Heaven’s Sake with an overall score of 992.07. She and Bibby Hill’s 12-year-old Warmblood gelding received scores of 252.48 and 253.19 in the Model and Under Saddle phases, respectively. The pair’s Over Fences phase garnered a score of 243.20 on Saturday.

Mia Wayne (Clarkston, Mich.) and her own Oliver Twist finished third in the Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship with an overall score of 987.95. On Friday, she and the eight-year-old German Riding Pony gelding scored 241.89 in the Model phase and 235.54 in the Under Saddle phase. The pair climbed an impressive 50 places on the strength of their Over Fences performance, which scored 255.26 and earned them first place in the phase. The pair also claimed the Champion Owner/Rider title for the division.

The Best Turned Out Pony in the Medium Regular section was Vermont Ruby Fox, ridden by Jenna Drago. The Best Presented Model Pony was awarded to Woodlands Love Story, ridden by Brittany Bardwell.

The US Pony Finals will conclude Sunday with the Marshall & Sterling/US Pony Medal Finals on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. ET in Alltech Arena. The USEF Network will live stream the coveted championship, courtesy of the USHJA Foundation.

For live scoring, results, schedule, and competitor and hospitality information, go to

To learn more about the 2014 US Pony Finals, visit

CORRECTION: Augusta Iwasaki and Kingston had an overall score of 1046.80 in Friday’s Large Green Hunter Pony Championship. Iwasaki and Small Suggestion had an overall score of 1017.79 in the Medium Green Hunter Pony Championship.

By Kathleen Landwehr

Zone 4 Is Golden in 2015 US National Pony Jumper Team Championship

Team Gold medalists from Zone 4 (Shawn McMillen Photography)

Lexington, Ky. – The Team Championship of the US National Pony Jumper Championships took place Friday evening in the Alltech Arena as teams competed in the two-round Nations Cup format. Following the first round, the top teams came back to jump the same Marc Donovan-designed course in round two, with a total of 31 combinations jumping for individual classification. Zone 4 won the Team Championship for fifth time since the championship became part of the US Pony Finals in 2001. The team, comprised of Charles Smith and Venice, Chloe Farnham and Cookies & Cream, Hallie Rush and Sky Miles, and Anna Reising and Blue Me Away, finished with a total of 20 faults to claim the Team Gold medal.

The first round for Zone 4 began with Smith (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) and Wendy Arndt’s seven-year-old Welsh Pony Cross mare having an eight-fault round with rails at 8B and nine, followed by an unfortunate elimination for Farnham (Atlanta, Ga.) and Wendy Ritter Peralta’s 13-year-old Paint mare. Rush (Eads, Tenn.) and her own 16-year-old Connemara mare laid down the team’s first clear round. Reising (Fort Mill, S.C.) and Carolina Country Acres 11-year-old Welsh/Warmblood Cross gelding tallied 12 faults, totaling 20 faults for the team’s first round.

The team came back strong in round two, starting off with Smith and Venice have a clear round. Farnham and Cookies & Cream came back from their first round to have a masterful clear. Rush and Sky Miles knocked a rail at six for four faults, followed by Reising and Blue Me Away finishing with a fault-free round. Zone 4 jumped to the top of the leaderboard by adding nothing to their round one score to earn the Gold medal.

“What a big opportunity to do this and have an awesome team to go through this with, and it’s just really amazing,” Rush said.

Reising added, “It’s a team thing so it’s even harder because all four of us have to put in the ride instead of just one, so that makes it a lot more special.”

The team had high praise for the Zone 4 Chef d’Equipe Katie Maxwell, who provided them with guidance and encouragement throughout the week. She returned the praise, saying, “Every single one of them participated equally to this championship and I watch them grow as riders from each round. It was just phenomenal to watch them learn, explore the process, and achieve what they did.”

A jump-off was required to determine the Silver medal with both the Zone 9/10 and Zone 2 teams finishing on 28 faults. Zone 2’s Claire Zone and Proven Theory went first, having an unlucky rail at fence five, while Stephanie Don and Joel from the Zone 9/10 jumped clear to clinch the Team Silver medal for teammates Kayla Long and Khall Me Luna and Rachel Long and Payette. The Bronze medal went to the Zone 2 team consisting of Melinda Hartman and Happy Feet, Jones and Proven Theory, Cameron Tague and My Sundae Best, and Catherine Wilson and Ez to Spot.

Only two combinations, Don and Joel from the Zone 9/10 and Elizabeth McDougald and Knock My Sox Off from Zone 7/8, were double-clear in the Team Championship and they go forward to Saturday’s Individual Final tied for the top spot with zero faults.

Competition continues tomorrow with the Individual Final at 6:30 p.m. ET. The USEF Network will live stream the Individual Final, courtesy of the USHJA Foundation.

For live scoring, results, schedule, and competitor and hospitality information, go to

To learn more about the 2014 US Pony Finals, visit

By Kathleen Landwehr

Kingston and Truly Yours Awarded Overall Grand and Reserve Green Hunter Pony Titles

Emma Kurtz and Truly Yours (Shawn McMillen Photography)

Lexington, Ky. – Another day of competition at the US Hunter Pony Championship presented by Sallee Horse Vans saw two more championship titles decided on Friday. Emma Kurtz and Truly Yours collected Medium Green Hunter Pony honors, while Augusta Iwasaki and Kingston 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, after receiving 25% from both the Model and Under Saddle phases on Thursday. Following the completion of the Green Pony divisions, Kingston was named Overall Green Hunter Pony Grand Champion, while Truly Yours was the Reserve Grand Champion.

Medium Green Hunter Pony Championship

Kurtz (Hudson, Ohio) and Truly Yours, an eight-year-old Welsh Pony mare owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, were in third place heading into the final phase after earning 249.20 in the Model phase and 253.20 in the Under Saddle phase. A strong performance in the Over Fences phase gave the pair a score of 263.00 to finish the phase in first place and propelled them to the Medium Green Hunter Pony Champion title with an overall score of 1028.40.

“It was a nice course because it was set in-stride,” Kurtz, a US Pony Finals veteran, said of the Over Fences course. “She peeked down a little bit at the one jump, but the rest was perfect. She was so brave.”

Dr. Parker was extremely complimentary of Kurtz. “It’s a pleasure to support youth like Emma,” she said. “Emma tries so hard; she rides all the time. She rides many horses and is a very serious student.”

Augusta Iwasaki (Calabasas, Calif.) rode Small Suggestion to Reserve Champion honors with an overall score of 1046.80. She and the seven-year-old gelding of unknown breeding owned by Iwasaki and Elizabeth Reilly scored 247.27, 248.52, and 261.00 in the Model, Under Saddle, and Over Fences phases, respectively, to come in second in the championship division. The pair also added the Champion Owner/Rider title to their accolades.

The third-place ribbon in the Medium Green Hunter Pony Championship went to Samantha Palermo (Merritt Island, Fla.) and Vienna. She and her own eight-year-Welsh Pony mare received 236.60 in the Model phase, 260.46 in the Under Saddle phase, and 258.50 in the Over Fences phase for a final total of 1014.06.

The Best Turned Out Pony in the Medium Green section was Serafina’s Millenium, ridden by Hana Bieling. The Best Presented Model Pony was awarded to Two for the Bunny, ridden by Alexis Bauman.

Large Green Hunter Pony Championship

Iwasaki rode Ava Peck’s Kingston to top honors in the Large Green Hunter Pony Championship, finishing on a score of 992.77. She and the 12-year-old German Riding Pony gelding garnered scores of 251.65 in the Model phase and 261.67 in the Under Saddle phase on Thursday. The pair sealed the deal Friday evening by earning 266.74 in the Over Fences phase, winning the title by an impressive margin of over 34 points. To top off their performance, Kingston was also named Overall Green Hunter Pony Grand Champion.

“I’m very excited and very lucky to get to ride him,” Iwasaki said. “He is always very sweet; he’s just perfect always; he never takes a foot out of line.”

Ellia Giuliani (Middleburg, Va.) and Brighton Decidedly received the Reserve Champion Large Green Hunter Pony title with a score of 1012.45. She and Kelly Tellier’s seven-year-old Welsh/Thoroughbred gelding had scores of 237.30, 250.03, and 262.56 in the Model, Under Saddle, and Over Fences phases, respectively.

Emma Seving (Newtown Square, Pa.) and her own Captivating came in third in the Large Green Hunter Pony Championship with an overall score of 998.96. Seving and the seven-year-old Welsh Pony Cross gelding scored 248.70, 250.00, and 250.13 in the Model, Under Saddle, and Over Fences phases, respectively. The pair also claimed the Champion Owner/Rider title for the division.

The Best Turned Out Pony in the Large Green section was O’Henry, ridden by Darian Topolski. The Best Presented Model Pony was awarded to Miss Penny Lane, ridden by Sydney Flashman.

Vanessa Mazzoli and Find the Love (Shawn McMillen Photography)
Vanessa Mazzoli and Find the Love (Shawn McMillen Photography)

Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship

After two phases of competition, Vanessa Mazzoli and Find the Love have taken the lead in the Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship. Mazzoli (Rockford, Mich.) and her own 11-year-old German Riding Pony gelding captured first place with a score of 257.88 in the Model phase and 254.91 in the Under Saddle Phase for a total of 512.79. Claire Campbell (Cochranville, Pa.) and Madeline Schaefer’s Leon, a nine-year-old Welsh Pony gelding, sit in second with a total of 505.91, while Devin Seek (Ocala, Fla.) and Heaven’s Sake, a 12-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Bibby Hill, are in third with 505.67.

The US Hunter Pony Championships presented by Sallee Horse Vans continue Saturday with ponies in the Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship completing their Over Fences phase to determine who will receive the National title.

The USEF Network presented by SmartPak will live stream competition from the Walnut and Alltech Arenas, courtesy of 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

To learn more about the 2014 US Pony Finals, visit

From the USEF Communications Department

Iwasaki Sweeps Large Green Pony Hunters, Claims Grand Green Pony Hunter Championship

Augusta Iwasaki and Kingston.

Lexington, KY – August 7, 2015 – Entering the final phase of competition with two blue ribbons already under her belt, Augusta Iwasaki, aboard her trusty mount Kingston, had a target on her back as the one to beat in the Large Green Pony Hunters. Already a weekly champion in Thursday’s Small Regular Pony Hunter division, Iwasaki was hoping to add another 2015 U.S. Pony Finals win to her list of accolades.

As the last to go, she and the chestnut Kingston were faced with the task of surpassing the 1,012.450 score set by competitor Ellia Giuliani and Brighton Decidedly, which the pair easily crushed with their cumulative score of 1,046.8 to sweep all three classes of the division and claim the lead spot in the victory gallop.

Called “Prince” in the barn, Kingston will surely be treated as royalty tonight, as he not only carried Iwasaki to her second champion tricolor of the week, but also the title of Grand Green Champion. Their overall score was the highest of the 208 Green ponies in the hunt for the Small, Medium, and Large size-based divisions throughout the Finals.

“He is never wild; he is always very sweet. He’s just perfect, always. He never puts a foot out of line,” Iwasaki sung the pony’s praises. “I’m very excited and very lucky to get to ride him. I want to thank Ava Peck for letting me ride this pony. He’s so perfect.”

The 11-year-old rider from Calabasas, California, opted to ride Kingston, owned by Peck of Topanga, California, instead of one of her own family’s horses, which ultimately proved to be a smart move. The pair has been together since January.

“This is definitely my favorite part of the week so far. I’m excited to hang up my ribbons and put up my trophies in my room when I go home. This was for sure worth the trip,” the young champion smiled. “The competition is one of my favorite things here; it’s much more competitive than at home. I think that the better competition makes me ride better.”

With one more pony still to ride this week, Iwasaki will try her hand at one more division, hoping to earn herself a third reason to celebrate in the Medium Regular Pony Hunters with Somekindawonderful.

Giuliani and Brighton Decidedly, owned by Morgan Munz out of Califon, New Jersey, maintained their reserve spot in the Large Green Pony Hunters as the only other pair to break the 1,000 point mark. Rider-owner Emma Seving and Captivating captured the third position, followed by Christina Judy’s Recess from Chesterland, Ohio, ridden by Camryn Halley, in the fourth spot. Rounding out the top six were Top That, owned by Emily Elik-Burtard of Ixonia, Wisconsin, and ridden by Giavanna Rinaldi, and San Francisco-based Pretty Penny Farm’s Splendid, with Ava Leraris in the saddle.

Emma Kurtz and Truly Yours
Emma Kurtz and Truly Yours

As the over fences portion of the Medium Green Hunter Pony division commenced, Emma Kurtz knew that she would have to navigate Truly Yours to a high-scoring ride to overcome her 21-point deficit behind Sophia Calamari and Unforgettable, the leaders after the model and hack portions of competition, and to jump from third position to the champion spot. Kurtz and Truly Yours ultimately did just that, impressing the judges to earning a 263-point score, the highest score of the over fences class, to secure the championship honors more than 10 points ahead of the next-closest finisher with 1,028.4 points.

“It is always such an amazing opportunity to get to ride the ponies I do. It is just so much fun. I love how family-friendly Pony Finals is – they make it really fun for everyone,” Kurtz commented.

Dr. Betsee Parker, out of Middleburg, Virginia, owns Truly Yours and has owned many ponies and supported numerous riders throughout the past years, but was quick to note Kurtz’s special place in her heart. Kurtz’s win marks a new milestone for Parker: her eighth consecutive year winning a division championship, an accomplishment no other owner has achieved.

“I have been very blessed to have Emma,” Dr. Parker said of the young talent. “She has had several champions with me. I feel very fortunate to have her and her mom. We brought her out to the George Morris clinic, and George really liked Emma. The first person who is going to hear about this win is George Morris.”

Dr. Parker added, “She is a very serious student. She tries so hard, and rides so many ponies and horses. I think she has a very bright future ahead of her. It has been really fun to see the children grow up.”

Regarding her future, at least for the next few years, the 15-year-old plans to continue working with green ponies and horses, hopefully racking up more accomplishments in the process.

“It is really fun to bring them along, see them excel and see them become the ponies they are today,” Kurtz said.

Clinching the reserve position was Iwasaki aboard her family’s Small Suggestion. Third place went to Vienna, piloted and owned by Samantha Palermo out of Merritt Island, Florida, followed by Calamari and Unforgettable, owned by Forget Me Not Farm in Wellington, Florida, in fourth position. Olivia Ferro in the irons aboard Anderin’s Momento for Linda Evans of South Hadley, Massachusetts, and Taylor St. Jacques with the ride for Danielle Roskens of South Lyon, Michigan, on Motown Mini swept the last two top six spots.

The Medium Pony Hunters kicked off their first day of competition Friday morning with over 150 ponies parading into the Walnut Ring for the model and under saddle classes. Vanessa Mazzoli of Rockford, Michigan, and her own Find the Love took the lead in the division with two top placings, concluding the opening day of competition with 512.79 points. She clinched the first place in the model, as well as the second place in the under saddle for a strong lead. Claire Campbell and Leon, owned by Madeline Schaefer of Westminster, Maryland, follow in the second place with 505.91 points, while Devin Seek and Heaven’s Sake, owned by Bibby Hill of Reddick, Florida, are only a hair shy with 505.67 points.

Zone 4 Pony Jumper Team Captures the Gold in Team Competition

Down the road in the Alltech Arena, 34 Pony Jumper riders took center stage, with nine teams facing off in the Pony Jumper Team Championship. Riding in championship format, competing over two rounds of courses, it was Zone 4 that came away with the 2015 Team Gold. Riders Charles Smith, Chloe Farmham, Hallie Rush and Anna Reisling left nothing to chance as they overtook the competition to end the two rounds of competition with only 20 faults to their team name.

“Every single one of these riders contributed to this championship equally,” said Katie Maxwell, Chef d’Equipe of Zone 4. “I watched them grow as riders from each round. It was just phenomenal to watch them learn and explore the process and achieve what they did.”

Zone 4 didn’t kick off the competition with a strong lead, earning a team total of 20 for the first round total, but they returned for round two with their eyes set firmly on the top finish.

Charles Smith, 17, and Venice rode to a faultless second round score to set a trend for his fellow teammates. Chloe Farnham, 15, and Cookies & Cream duplicated his effort, while the youngest rider of the team, Hallie Rush, 12, rode to a four-fault score. It was 17-year-old Anna Reisling’s clear effort that confirmed their winning point total as she laid down the third clean round aboard Blue Me Away.

“It’s a rush for sure; you feel it out there, and then when [your team members] go in, you feel it,” Smith said. “I think that competing as a team is more difficult than the individual competition. When you are on a team, you are rooting for everybody; you want to see every person do well. We each have to put in the rounds in order to win, and it makes it that much more exciting.”

As the second round came to a close, a hush fell over the Alltech Arena as it was announced that there would be a jump-off. Maxwell admitted that she had lost count of the points by that time, but when the announcer said that it was for the two 28-fault teams, the cheers erupted from the riders, trainers and parents as it dawned on them that Zone 4 won its third Team Gold in four years.

“What a big opportunity this is, and having such an amazing team to go through this with, it has been such a wonderful time and experience,” Rush smiled as she held her trophy.

2015 marks Rush’s second time competing in the Pony Jumpers; however, the young talent is going into the Individual Championship on Saturday as the top ranked rider of the team, with only four faults.

For teammate Farnham, the pony jumpers were a change of scenery from competing in the pony hunters at the USEF Pony Finals. After feeling the surge of adrenaline and the taste of victory, Farnham admitted that she is never looking back. With rescue pony Cookies & Cream, Farnham plans to compete in many more events in the future.

The gold medal proved extra special for one rider on the team, 17-year-old Reisling. With her birthday approaching in November, her days as a junior are limited; however, it was on her bucket list to make it to the Pony Finals and compete for Zone 4 before aging out of the division.

“I didn’t get to do the championship when I was 13, but now, in my last junior year, my trainer asked me what I wanted to do, and I had my heart set on making it to the championships,” Reisling explained. “It is so exciting going out there, and there is so much energy packed into a little body.”

She continued, “It is so different than showing in the hunters. You have pressure lifted off of your shoulders. It isn’t about how the pony looks, but rather the athleticism. You have to focus on lifting your pony off the ground.”

It worked out to be the perfect situation for Reisling and Blue Me Away, the spunky gelding whose trademark move is starting out the course with a few strong bucks and cow kicks. His antics do not bother Reisling, who refers to his quirks as “personality.”

Blue just recovered from colic surgery after being found only a few months prior in a field with no pulse. Thanks to an insurance policy, he was rushed into emergency colic surgery where he pulled off a remarkable recovery.

“They removed 10 feet of intestine and he just popped right off the table,” Reisling laughed. “A few months later we were jumping him around, and now he is here.”

Although Zone 4 rode cloud nine after the announcement of their gold medal win, the silver medal was tied between Zone 2 and the combined Zone 9/10, both with 28 points.

Zone 2 chose to send in Claire Jones and Proven Therapy, but four faults at the fifth obstacle would leave the door open. Stephanie Don and Joel followed consecutively, putting in their fourth clear ride of the competition, and earning Zone 9/10 the silver medal, while Zone 2 took the bronze.

Don is currently tied with Elizabeth McDougald and Knock My Sox Off going into Saturday’s Individual Championship, each with zero faults.

The 2015 USEF Pony Finals competition continues Saturday with the Medium Pony Hunter over fences classes beginning at 9 a.m. in the Walnut Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park. The Pony Jumpers will conclude Saturday evening in the Alltech Arena with the individual final round and the farewell class.

To learn more about the USEF Pony Finals, please visit For live results, please visit

Rebecca Walton for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

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