Natalie Jayne and Blueberry Hill (Shawn McMillen Photography)
Lexington, Ky. – The third day of the US Hunter Pony Championships presented by Sallee Horse Vans at the 2014 US Pony Finals came to a conclusion Thursday evening with Natalie Jayne and Blueberry Hill claiming top honors in the Small Regular Hunter Pony Championship. In 2013, Blueberry Hill collected a fourth-place finish but this year the mare climbed three placings to earn the 2014 National Title on a score of 1007.92.
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.
Jayne (Elgin, Ill.) and her own 13-year-old Welsh Cross mare entered the final Over Fences phase in 15th place, after scoring 233.35 in the Model phase and 250.05 in the Under Saddle, but climbed the ranks on the strength of their final performance. The pair was the winners of Over Fences after earning a score of 262.26 that sent them straight to the top of the overall standings.
Jayne credits the pony’s temperament and naturally open stride in her Over Fences and Overall win.
“She has a huge stride, and she’s pretty easy to find the jumps on. She’s not spooky either.”
Earning Reserve Champion honors on Thursday was Madeline Schaefer (Westminster, Md.) and Pretty Penny Farm’s 10-year-old Welsh Pony gelding, Armani, with an overall score of 988.34. In the Model, the pair earned 251.00, added a further 256.56 in the Under Saddle phase, and garnered 240.39 in the Over Fences portion of competition.
Sophie Gochman (New York, N.Y.) and David Gochman’s 10-year-old Welsh Pony mare, Love Me Tender, finished on a score of 981.58 after earning 244.50, 267.00, and 235.04 in the Model, Under Saddle and Over Fences, respectively, to earn third-place honors.
The US Hunter Pony Championships presented by Sallee Horse Vans continue Friday with champions crowned in the Medium Green Hunter Pony Championship and the Large Green Hunter Pony Championship.
To learn more about the 2014 US Pony Finals, visit www.ponyfinals.org.
For results, schedules and more, visit http://usefconnect.com/ponyfinals/.