Lexington, KY – May 14, 2021 – Show jumping focus shifted to junior and amateur-owner competitors in the Rolex Arena at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show (KSHS) Friday morning. A total of 11 hopeful junior competitors and 30 amateur-owner competitors vied for top honors in their respective High 1.40m Jumper division. In the end, it was Eric Krawitt and Godfather B to claim the High Junior 1.40m Jumper title, while Vani Khosla and Billy Mexico nabbed first place honors in the High Amateur-Owner 1.40m Jumper.
Mimi Gochman and Taylor Cawley Claim Equitation Wins
Equitation riders took to the Kentucky Horse Park Friday afternoon in the StoneLea Ring for the 2021 Kentucky Spring Horse Show. Showcasing some of the top young junior athletes, the competition was stiff as several horse-and-rider combinations competed in several medal classes to acquire points towards 2021 indoors season finals. In the end, Mimi Gochman rode Heroy Von De Hei to top honors in the ASPCA Maclay, while Taylor Cawley dominated the 3’3’’ Medal classes aboard Quax, riding to the top of the class in both the Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3″ Medal and the USHJA 3’3″ Hunter Seat Medal.
Wellington, FL – March 21, 2021 – On the final day of the tenth week of the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), Darragh Kenny (IRL) picked up his second win of the week, riding Great-Tikila J, owned by Whiterock Farm and HKC Collection, to capture the $137,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI3* as competition wrapped up on Sunday, March 21, in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).
Of the 45 entries in the starting order, a total of 10 pairs mastered the handiwork of Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) to punch their ticket into the second round. Of those 10, Mimi Gochman (USA) was the first to put in a double-clear round aboard Gigi’s Girl BH, owned by Gochman Sport Horses, LLC, to move into the lead.
“I went super early [in the order], so I just really wanted to have a nice round,” explained Gochman in reference to her plan for the jump-off. “I was trying to go for it a little bit, but I didn’t want to make any big mistakes or make her unconfident in me because it was my first three-star grand prix, and I really just wanted to go double clear.”
Gochman, who picked up a win earlier in the day in the Hermès U25 Series Final, guided the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Vingino x Celano across the track in a time of 41.38 seconds.
Mimi Gochman and Celina BH Best the Field in the $50,000 Hermès Under 25 Series Final; Vogel Wins Overall Title
In the culmination of a season-long series, it was Mimi Gochman (USA) and Celina BH, owned by Gochman Sport Horses, LLC, who prevailed in the $50,000 Hermès Under 25 Final CSI3* on Sunday afternoon in the International Arena.
Riders were faced with a technical track built by Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) with 29 competitors in the starting order. A total of eight horse-and-rider combinations qualified to return for the jump-off representing four different countries: Belgium, Greece, Great Britain, and the United States.
The standard was set for the rest of the field as the first two pairs to return, Zoe Conter (BEL) and Caitlyn Connors (USA), both posted double clear efforts and jumped into a tie for the early lead in a time of 38.69 seconds. Third to return in the subsequent round, Natalie Dean (USA) and Dotcom D’Authuit, owned by Marigold Sporthorses, LLC, followed up with their own double-clear effort. Dean and the eight-year-old mare by Diamant De Semilly x Quidam De Revel solidified what would ultimately be a third-place finish in a time of 37.67 seconds.
Just two riders after that, series leader Ashley Vogel (USA) and her own Bellissimo Z, a 12-year-old Zangersheide mare by Bamako de Muze x Chin Chin, found a way to shave time off the clock, with their own double-clear effort in 36.60 seconds to take over top spot.
Daniel Deusser (GER) with Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z. Sportfot.
Wellington, FL – March 7, 2021 – Success at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) continued for Daniel Deusser (GER) as he and Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z, owned by Stephex and Scuderia 1918, put forth a brilliant double-clear effort to be crowned champion of the $214,000 Grand Prix CSIO4*, presented by JTWG, Inc. on Sunday, March 7, in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).
A total of 50 entries including six of the top 12 riders in the world, challenged the opening round track set by Steve Stephens (USA) and Nick Granat (USA), with eight pairs qualifying to return for the jump-off. Sixth to contest the subsequent round, Deusser and the 13-year-old Zangersheide stallion by Tangelo Vd Zuuthoeve x Mr Blue executed the track flawlessly, shaving nearly a second off the leading time to finish in 36.45 seconds.
Mimi Gochman and Celina BH Dominate the Hermès Under 25 Semi-Final Grand Prix
The $37,000 Hermès Under 25 Semi-Final Grand Prix took place in the International Arena on Sunday morning after being postponed from Saturday night due to weather. Forty-six competitors entered the class and eight made it to the jump-off, but Mimi Gochman and Gochman Sport Horses LLC’s Celina BH proved unbeatable.
Riders were tested over a technical first course of 13 fences, including an open water jump, designed by Nick Granat (USA) and Steve Stephens (USA). Gochman, of New York, NY, and Celina BH were twenty-seventh in the order of go and produced the eighth and final jump-off qualifying round. The pair put in a second clear round in the jump-off with a winning time of 31.86 seconds.
“I thought my first round was very smooth, which was the goal,” explained Gochman. “Smooth, stay in the time, no big moves or changes, and I think the plan was to jump clear, obviously. I had a light rub at the second jump, and I think it made Celina and I both pick up a little bit on the rest of the round. She’s so confident at the water, which is really nice that I didn’t have to think about that. She’s so adjustable, so all lengthening and shortening stuff she can do so well.”
Mill Spring, NC – October 12, 2020 – Mimi Gochman (Wellington, FL) and Gigi’s Girl BH sliced their way to a win in the $25,000 ProElite Grand Prix at Tryon International Equestrian Center and Resort (TIEC), stopping the jump-off timers in 29.27 seconds. Gavin Harley (Wellington, FL) and Corbawido PS, the Wolfstone Stables & Sales Inc.-owned 2012 Oldenburg gelding (Cornet’s Balou x Annette), charged to second on a time of 29.352 seconds, while Katherine Dash (Washington, WA) completed the podium in the irons with HH Casey Jones, the 2009 Hanoverian gelding (Clinton I x Chicca) owned by Play the Game LLC, clearing the short course in 31.877 seconds.
Thirty-nine pairs tested the Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) first round, with only six riders returning for the jump-off challenge. Gochman was able to take several fences at a severe angle, slicing her way through a tightly-built course with the 2008 Dutch Warmblood mare (Vingino x Zaline) owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC.
“I wanted to go for it.” she said of her jump-off performance. “There were six of us and it was my last class of the week. She felt great! My first round was smooth enough that I felt confident. I just wanted to go for it and try my best.” Gochman emphasized, “The footing is amazing! It’s been raining all weekend and it’s still perfect.”
Liza Boyd and Ferrari Cruise to $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Win
October 9, 2020 – Liza Boyd (Camden, SC) and Ferrari claimed the win in Friday’s $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Tryon International Hunter Derby, adding a handy round score of 202 to a 181 first-round result in order to receive 383 points total. With 379 points to earn second, Victoria Colvin (Loxahatchee, FL) guided William Lyles’ Avatar Z, the 2012 Zangersheide stallion (Arko III x Chang Lee van Berken Broeck), to a handy round score of 204, while Danielle Torano (Wellington, FL) achieved the podium with Faldo II, Jimmy Torano’s 2010 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Baltic VDL x Rienaldine), after producing a total score of 378.5 over the Lewis Pack (USA) course design.
From placing in Grand Prix competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) to scoring big in the Grand Hunter Ring at TIEC, Boyd revealed that the 2010 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Thunder van de Zuutehoeve x Sipora) is actually very new to the Hunters, and was purchased for a client sight-unseen as a Junior Hunter prospect.
“Ferrari is amazing. He just became a Hunter right after COVID-19 hit. At the end of WEF, he got a ribbon in a Grand Prix with Ilan Bluman. After that, Michael Morrissey and his wife, Lourdes, bought him and turned him into a Hunter.” After a few national derbies under his belt, “my brother, Hardin Towell, saw him and tried him. We actually bought him for our client sight-unseen. It was a little scary! He actually just came up to me and said, ‘Finally, you listen to me!’ He’s the one who told us to buy him. It’s fun because it’s a family affair. Even though my brother is a Jumper, he loves the Hunters and sells a lot of top Hunters.”
Brian Moggre and Nikita Jolie Jump to Win $6,000 Speed Stake CSI 3*
October 9, 2020 – Brian Moggre (USA) and Nikita Jolie swept through the timers in a time of 61.52 seconds to claim the $6,000 Speed Stake CSI 3* on Friday, dominating a class of 31 entries. In second place, Alberto Michan (ISR) and Loribri, the Antonette Leviste/Yngen Properties, Inc. entry and 2009 Norwegian Warmblood mare (Kingsland SM x Primas), cleared the course in 64.13 seconds, while Gonzalo Guevara (COL) piloted Valentine Car to third on a time of 65.41 seconds with the 2009 Warmblood gelding (Son of Juan Car x Galiani CH) for Fernando Cardenas.
Moggre’s success with the 2010 Oldenburg mare (Numero Uno x Ladalco) owned by Ashland Farms came after a top-ten placing in Wednesday’s $37,000 EquiSafe Global Power & Speed Stake CSI 3*, and Moggre also collected a fifth place finish in Thursday’s $37,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 3* with MTM Vivre le Reve before topping Friday’s marquis international competition.
New York, NY – September 21, 2017 – The second day of the 2017 Rolex Central Park Horse Show (RCPHS) featured international and national show jumping competition, showcasing top equestrians from around the world on Thursday, September 21, in the heart of New York City’s Wollman Rink.
The evening was presented by CSX, highlighting the $40,000 U.S. Open CSX FEI Speed Class, which saw a win for Hardin Towell (USA) and Lucifer V, as they opened elite show jumping competition for the week. The evening’s competition also featured the U.S. Open $50,000 Spy Coast Farm Puissance, which saw Emanuel Andrade (VEN), Kama Godek (USA), and Todd Minikus (USA) split the victory three ways after each cleared the traditional brick wall at a height of 6’9″ inches. The $5,000 1.20m Junior/Amateur Jumper Speed Class was topped by Mimi Gochman of New York, NY aboard Gochman Sport Horse LLC’s entry, Avoloma BH.
Guilherme Jorge (BRA), course designer of the 2016 Rolex Central Park Horse Show and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, returns to Wollman Rink as the show jumping course designer for this week’s national and international competition. The U.S. Open $40,000 CSX FEI Speed Class saw 30 horse and rider combinations take to Wollman Rink for their first night of competition, including some of the world’s very best, highlighting rounds by Kent Farrington (USA), and McLain Ward (USA), alongside rising talent Lucy Deslauriers (USA), who finished in a competitive fifth place.
The winner of the U.S. Open $40,000 CSX FEI Speed Class, Hardin Towell (USA), guided Evergate Stables’ Lucifer V, a 2006 Westphalian gelding (Lord Pezi x Grandina), improving upon the pair’s third place finish last year and crossing through the timers in 53.53 seconds. Towell was the last entry on course and ultimately overtook Daniel Bluman (ISR) aboard Bacara D’Archonfosse, a 2007 Belgian Warmblood mare (Asca Z x Queen D’Archonfosse) owned by Kim Douglas and Alexa Schwitzer, who stopped the clocks in 55.75 seconds. Kristen Vanderveen (USA) and Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili, a 2005 Belgian Warmblood stallion (Berlin x Bijous Van De Vijfheide) owned by Bull Run Jumpers Five LLC, rounded out the competition in third place, finishing in 55.98, adding four faults to their converted time.
“I felt the course was nice. It had a twisty turning start, but it wasn’t so big and my horse has been jumping big classes all year,” he said. “Tonight was a very competitive class, but I had a lot of confidence in my horse, so I took some shots and it was fantastic. I felt he was pretty quick to the second to last jump, and I thought my turns were nice. Last week at Gold Cup I only got third, but I didn’t trust my horse or myself through the first line and in the second line I had the third jump down. I would’ve ended up third even if I’d gone clean, so today I decided to believe in my horse. I felt fast today and I knew it was quite good.”
Towell and Lucifer V have been partnered together for several year and amassed top finishes around the globe in international competition. The pair has excelled during the summer season and Towell felt that the size and structure of the ring helped the duo secure the win and spoke to the versatility of Lucifer V.
“He’s a very diverse horse. In big fields like Spruce Meadows, he’s also great. He doesn’t have the biggest stride, so in an arena like this it’s even better because he’s quicker in the turns, but this is quite a good ring. I’d also like to add that Daniel is one of my very close friends and we’re very competitive, so it’s always fun to win, but to beat one of your friends is even better,” laughed Towell. “I’m not going to lie, the reason I really tried was because Daniel was winning, and he’s won enough the past couple of weeks.”
Bluman is also coming off of a very successful European tour, like his friend Hardin Towell, and was pleased with Bacara D’Archonfosse and her performance, as they look towards the $216,000 Grand Prix CSI 3* presented by Rolex.
“The mare jumped really well again tonight. We’ve been jumping great the past few shows and winning some classes. I walked the course and like Hardin said it wasn’t too big,” he explained. “I got to see Kristen [Vanderveen] go after me and she had a beautiful round and was super-fast. At that point I figured Hardin would get me at the end. He’s a competitive guy. We work together and grew up together, and I knew he was going to try and he got me, so I’m happy for the second place, happy for him, and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Bluman explained that though the mare is a serious competitor in the competition arena, she’s extremely relaxed outside of the ring. He commented, “Hardin and I were joking in the warm-up that if she were a horse used for transportation two hundred years ago, it wouldn’t do. She doesn’t want to work because she’s so relaxed. It took her twice the amount of time to get from stabling to the ring than any other horse, but she goes in the ring and she knows what she has to do. She’s a competitor and she likes to win. She allows me to do my job. She’s really fantastic horse who always wants to jump clear.”
Kristen Vanderveen and Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili were incredibly close to stealing the win in Wollman Rink and used the tight course to their advantage, posting the third fastest time despite knocking the first rail at the one-stride combination.
“He is super-fast and the small ring here actually plays to his advantage because he’s really quick on the turns. I felt that we were very tight everywhere and he ended up catching me off guard by the end of the course. He was so ready for the turns that I cut him a little too aggressively at the combination and it caught up with me,” she explained. “But I was very pleased with him tonight. He’s so rideable for me. He’s listening all the time and asks where I want to go, and that really helps in a ring of this size, and with his size as well. He’s right where I want him.”
Emanuel Andrade, Kama Godek, and Todd Minikus Split Top Honors in U.S. Open $50,000 Spy Coast Farm Puissance
The evening’s competition concluded with the U.S. Open $50,000 Spy Coast Farm Puissance, which saw a three-way tie between Emanuel Andrade (VEN) aboard Clouwni, a 2003 Holsteiner gelding (Colman x Odessa XVII) owned by Andrade, Kama Godek (USA) and her own De Grande, a 2008 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Verdi x Concorde), and Todd Minikus (USA) piloting VDL Excel, a 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Douglas and owned by Autumn View Farm.
The class boasted five entries that began the competition at a wall height of 5’3″. All five entries contested a height of 6’9″, before Andrew Kocher (USA), and Paul O’Shea (IRL) were eliminated in the fourth and final round of competition.
“I started to train last year and I had an equitation horse,” smiled Godek. “I got an email asking if anyone wanted to do the Puissance at Central Park and I mean say no more! I had another client riding this horse in the 3’6″ Equitation and I knew he jumped big. I practiced a couple of times last year and we came back to win this year!”
Emanuel Andrade, a notable name on both the national and international show jumping circuits, contested his first Puissance class under the lights aboard his own Clouwni, ultimately clearing the massive wall set at 6’9″.
“This was my first Puissance and it was very exciting. It was impressive the first time I jumped that wall, but after that I started getting confident and it got much better. It was huge! I’m very happy about it,” he said. “I’m very happy about the group of horses that went this year. They were all so good.”
Veteran of the group, Todd Minikus, guided a young talent in his string in the class, also clearing the impressive wall at its top height. At only eight-years-old, VDL Excel looks to be a strong contender for the future and Minikus commented on the experience for both horse and rider under the lights in Central Park, while thanking class sponsor Spy Coast Farm for the opportunity.
“I’d like to thank Spy Coast Farm for sponsoring this. We all really appreciate it and the crowd seems to really appreciate it,” said Minikus. “I rode a young horse tonight. We just started doing some smaller grand prix and this is great for giving the horses experience under the lights.”
The revival of the Puissance in New York City was sparked by the once popular National Horse Show hosted at Madison Square Garden for many years. Mark Bellissimo, CEO of International Equestrian Group (IEG), felt it was necessary to keep the tradition alive in Central Park, once again bringing the entertaining brick wall back to the iconic city.
“The National Horse Show used to be here and no one can replace that show, but we are hoping in time we can bring that type of energy with us to the Rolex Central Park Horse Show,” he commented. “This is the opportunity to do that, so last year we decided to add the Puissance class. It’s a great thing to have in this sport. It engages the crowd and gives people something to root for that they understand. It’s simple, if you leave the wall up, you move on to the next round.”
Spy Coast Farm, a sport horse breeding and training operation based in both Lexington, KY, and Wellington, FL, was a first year sponsor of the U.S. Open $50,000 Puissance class and Lisa Lourie of Spy Coast Farm was on hand to discuss their participation in the event this year and discuss her love for Puissance, which was sparked by watching the entertaining class at the Dublin Horse Show each summer.
“I was so happy that we got this group of riders this year and we were so thrilled that they all came out. That’s what the Puissance is all about. If you don’t have good riders and good horses, then the class falls flat. We had the right group tonight, and that’s what it comes down too,” she said. “I called Mark after watching the Puissance at the Dublin Horse Show and told him that I was in for Central Park because it’s such a fantastic class.”
Mimi Gochman and Avoloma BH Ride to Win in $5,000 1.20m Junior/Amateur Jumper Speed Class
The night commenced with the $5,000 1.20m Junior/Amateur Speed Class, which awarded a victory for New York City’s own Mimi Gochman, piloting her new mount, Avoloma BH, a 2005 Dutch Warmblood mare (Quasimodo Z x Voloma) owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC.
“I used to have parties in Wollman Rink for my birthday,” commented Gochman. “It’s amazing to see the transformation from an ice skating arena to an amazing show with a beautiful backdrop. It’s such a privilege to be able to show in the middle of New York City. Central Park has always been a fun place to hang out, but I never imagined I’d be riding in a horse show here.”
Of her round, Gochman said, “It was a nice course. It was a little complicated with the angles but our trainer really helped. She told us where to go and set us up for the best possible route, so that was very helpful. She’s a new mare for me, and we’ve had a lot of success so far. I’m really starting to figure out what she likes and doesn’t like. She’s game for anything and she always tries to jump her best. She’s just a really good mare.”
Gochman completed the track in 52.97 seconds, almost three full seconds ahead of the second position finisher, Alexandra Crown, also of New York, NY, who rode her own Quentucky Jolly, a 2004 Selle Francais gelding (Nirvan V x Fabiola Depinette), to second place on 55.82 seconds.
“I got this horse in the middle of July,” said Crown, “We’ve only gone to about five shows together or so. He’s incredibly competitive and he’s very good at venues like this. He’s comfortable with the tight rings. This worked out in his favor, but we still couldn’t beat Mimi. That was fast! We gave it a go and he was fantastic, so I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
The class continued with an impressive New York native streak as Sophie Gochman took the third place slot aboard Wirina, a 2003 Dutch Warmblood mare (Harlem x Sarina) also owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, after finishing the course in 55.87 seconds.
“I’ve been competing against Mimi for basically my entire life,” commented the eldest Gochman sister. “This doesn’t really change anything. I’m always rooting for her and she’s always routing for me. Tonight I was just taking one for the team. Whoever wins, it’s still good because go team Baxter Hill!”
Storyteller and Mimi Gochman. Photos by Shawn McMillen Photography.
Sophie Gochman Tops WIHS Pony Equitation Finals; Sage Wolf and Grace Glover Win Regional Finals
Washington, D.C. – The 58th annual Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) came to a close on Sunday, October 30, after an unforgettable week of equestrian sport in the nation’s capital. The final day of competition featured pony and regional hunter champions at Verizon Center in downtown Washington D.C. WIHS ran October 25-30, welcoming over 500 horses to compete for more than $500,000 in prize money. With top sport, exciting exhibitions, fabulous shopping, and more, the 2016 WIHS had something for everyone and celebrated another successful equestrian event in the nation’s capital.
Rounding out competition for the week, the Miles River Moonglow Perpetual Trophy, donated by Scott Novick & Rustic Woods, was presented to Fair Play Farm’s Storyteller, ridden by Mimi Gochman, for Grand Champion Pony honors. The WIHS Pony Equitation Finals were held in the afternoon with a win for Sohpie Gochman, and the WIHS Regional Finals, sponsored by The Linden Group at Morgan Stanley, capped the day with blue ribbons presented to Sage Wolf and Grace Glover.
Set your DVRs now to catch the broadcast of the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington, presented by Events DC, on NBC Sports Network coming up on Sunday, November 6, at 1:30 p.m. EST.
On their way to the Grand Pony Hunter Championship, Mimi Gochman and Storyteller earned the Large Pony Hunter division championship, sponsored by Further Lane Farm, with two wins and a second place finish over fences. They were presented with The Pegasus Stable Perpetual Trophy, donated by Ms. Fenwick Kollock. Reid Arani and Victoria Press’s Love and Laughter took the reserve champion title with a win over fences and a third place ribbon under saddle.
Gochman (12), of Palm Beach, FL, has ridden Storyteller for almost two years and also won last year’s WIHS Pony Equitation Finals with the 13-year-old German Sport Pony gelding. Gochman trains with Scott Stewart, Ken Berkley, and Amanda Derbyshire. This was her final show in the pony divisions and her final time competing with Storyteller, going out on a high note in her first grand championship at WIHS.
“He has always been a reliable pony. I can always trust him and know that I can succeed on him,” Gochman said of “Story,” as the pony is known in the barn. “He is really nice around the barn. He tries his best at all times. It feels good to go out on top in the ponies at WIHS. I have never been Grand here, which is a really big thing for me. This is one of the toughest shows. The rings are small, and you really have to maneuver around the schooling area, but it is definitely one of the best experiences I have had in the past few years. Doing it with Story was such an amazing end since it is my last day on him and other ponies. I’m going to be sad that he is leaving, but he’s moving on to another child, which is good.”
Speaking of the ride on Storyteller, Gochman detailed, “He has a comfy canter, so you have to get your pace established and kind of let him canter on his own. You can’t use too much hand because he likes to stick his head up, and it doesn’t always look great on him because he has such a big neck. The further down it goes, the more he uses it, and it looks better. He has to have a soft hand, but he knows that when you pull he needs to back off, so that makes him an easier pony for me to ride. He has the stride of a horse. I wish he were a horse so I could keep going on him, but he will make some other kid very happy.”
Storyteller was also grand champion at WIHS in 2013 with Ashton Alexander and will continue on to teach a new young rider the ropes. Gochman will continue on to compete in Kentucky with her horses next week and then goes back to Florida for the winter. Concluding her 2016 experience at WIHS, Gochman stated, “This is one of the best cities to have a show in because it has the show component, and then the fun sightseeing, and all the fun activities in the city. This is one of my favorite shows for sure.”
Mimi Gochman’s sister, Sophie Gochman, rode Dr. Betsee Parker’s Bit of Love to earn the Small Pony Hunter Championship, sponsored by Further Lane Farm, and was awarded The Stombock Saddlery Challenge Trophy, donated by Stombock Saddlery in Memory of E. P. (Bud) Stombock. The pair placed first, fourth, and fourth over fences, and finished third under saddle. Alexa Lignelli and her own Rollingwoods Knee Deep earned the reserve championship with two second-place ribbons over fences.
Hannah Bernstein’s Woodlands Stevie Ray and Emily Aitken took championship honors in the Medium Pony Hunter division and earned The Shenandoah Sundowner Perpetual Trophy, donated by Evan Coluccio and Ashmont Farms, Ltd. The pair won two classes over fences and placed second under saddle. Bill Schaub’s Highlands Heaven Sent and Luke Jensen won one class over fences to earn the reserve championship.
Aitken (13), of Westchester, NY, was then presented with the award for Best Child Rider on a Pony, sponsored by Gotham North, and put her name on the Captain V. S. Littauer Perpetual Trophy, donated by Hugh J. B. Cassidy, III, Mrs. William Dillon, and Miss Marion Lee.
Aitken trains with Kristen Carollo and Kristen Lutz. Commenting on her special honor, the rider stated, “It feels really good. This is my first year here, so it is really exciting to be Best Child Rider on a Pony. I have Woodlands Stevie Ray, who was champion. He was really good. I got an 89 in the handy, so I was really happy with how I was riding him. Then I also had Cleverist. He was really good too, and he is really fun to ride.”
Aitken works on staying tall and keeping everything still when she is riding. The middle school eighth grader also heads on to show in Kentucky next week, but had a great experience showing at Verizon Center.
“It was a lot of fun riding here, just knowing that this is where all the sports teams play and stuff, so that was really cool,” Aitken concluded.
Other awards on Sunday included the Best Pony Hunter Stake Award, which went to Claire Campbell and Natalie Jayne’s Blueberry Hill, for their score of 90 in the Small Pony Hunter division. Tessa Downey and Bringing Home the Blue won the 2016 Potomac Trophy for the high score junior hunter rider on a pony.
Sophie Gochman Wins 2016 WIHS Pony Equitation Finals
Pony competition at WIHS 2016 continued on Sunday afternoon with the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals and crowned Sophie Gochman the winner. Just one year after her sister Mimi secured the title in 2015, Sophie Gochman kept the honor in the family by winning her last class as a pony rider aboard Storyteller, owned by Fair Play Farm.
Gochman scored an 86 over fences to sit in second place before the judges called the top ten riders back to be tested on the flat. After the final lineup, she was called forward as the winner and was presented with the Jane Marshall Dillon Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by the friends and students of Mrs. Jane Marshall Dillon.
“It is really special to have two Gochmans on that trophy,” said 13-year-old Sophie. “I was really hoping to make this day memorable because it is my last day on ponies. For the Washington [Pony Equitation Finals], I just wanted to have fun and have a good time for my last round.”
Mimi, Sophie, and their mother Becky shared an emotional farewell with Storyteller on Sunday as the sisters end their careers on ponies. When asked about Storyteller’s career with the Gochman family, Sophie said, “He is a really special pony to us. My mom rides him at home, Mimi usually competes him, and I have shown him a couple times. He is an equitation pony, and I wish I could take him in the big eq. It was a really great win, and I was confident that he could do it because he is such a special pony.”
Isabelle Aldridge led the jumping phase of the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals with a score of 87 riding Woodland’s Misty Rain, owned by Aldridge Equestrian, LLC and finished in second place overall after the flat phase. After pocketing a score of 84 over fences, Grace Debney and Denmark, owned by John Skinner, took third, and Saylor Shea claimed fourth with an 82.5 riding Magical Diamond, owned by Strawberry Hill, LLC. Luke Jensen rounded out the top five with a score of 82 aboard Fox Creek’s Curious George, owned by Dianna Orona.
Gochman had a successful week at WIHS competing in jumper, hunter, and pony classes, and enjoys showing amidst the atmosphere of downtown Washington D.C., saying, “It is really great how the general public can come in and the stands are packed every night to watch the jumpers. It introduces them to this sport because it is not always known to everyone. [It] spreads awareness about how important it is and what a great tradition this sport is. I think it is really great for people to see this aspect of horse showing.”
Regional Winners Crowned at WIHS
Sunday concluded with the culmination of WIHS Regional Hunter Finals, presented by The Linden Group at Morgan Stanley, which kicked off last week at the WIHS Regional Horse Show at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.
The win in the WIHS Regional Pony Hunter Finals went to 11-year-old Sage Wolf, a hometown girl from Washington, D.C. riding her 14-year-old gelding Dun Paintin’. The pair earned the high score of 90 for their round in the final. Nicole Marquie and CKE Horse Enterprises’ Pendermere Legacy finished second with a score of 85. Kate Howlin rode Lillie Honiberg’s Stoneledge Coralea to third place with a score of 78.
Wolf trains with Leigh Stitzer in Great Falls, MD and got her pony Dun Paintin’ in January 2016. She was second in her class at the WIHS Regional Horse Show at Prince George’s Equestrian Center last week to qualify to compete at Verizon Center on Sunday. This was her first time competing on the main stage at WIHS and an exciting win for the young equestrian, who started riding when she was seven.
“This is my first time ever at the Washington International Horse Show. It is amazing to ride here. It is a really cool place,” Wolf acknowledged.
“Dun Paintin’ is normally a very slow ride,” Wolf said of her pony. “He is very smooth, but he is not normally very peppy. It is a pokier ride, but he is a lot of fun. He was a bit faster than he normally is in this ring today. It is a cool new place, so he got a little excited and it gave him a little more energy. It was really cool to be riding in that ring, and I felt amazing about my round. I was really happy with the way it went. He was a really good boy, and I am really proud of how good he was.”
Nicole Marquis and Pendermere Legacy finished out the season as grand champions of the WIHS Regional Pony Hunter division overall. Shannon Maguire and her own Brownie Points, and Sarah Entzian aboard Suzanne Chambers’ Check Me Out, tied for the reserve championship.
The WIHS Regional Hunter Finals, presented by The Linden Group at Morgan Stanley, were held next with a win for Grace Glover, another Washington, D.C. resident, riding Michael Perez’s Pura Vida. The pair earned the high score of 88 for their round over fences. Fallyn Belcastro rode her own Chapter Three Z to the second place prize with a score of 85. Nicole Bailin and Pembroke Pointe’s Zachary finished third with a score of 84.
Originally from Lexington, VA, Glover moved to the nation’s capital three years ago after attending college at the University of Virginia and riding on their intercollegiate equestrian team. After graduating, Glover took a year off from riding to adjust to professional life in her job as a healthcare consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers. In 2015, Glover took up the reins again and started training with Melanie Wright, Patty Foster, and Mary Lisa Leffler at Rolling Acres. She half leased her mount Pura Vida, a seven-year-old gelding, this year from his owner Michael Perez.
“Today was really exciting because it is just hard to manage showing and professional life,” Glover stated. “I only did one other show before local day, and it was very exciting to qualify, and then to do so well here. It was a really great situation that I got to do a half-lease with Michael this year. It was really generous of him to share Vida with me so that I could make it affordable and get to do some of these bigger shows as well.”
Glover competed twice in the WIHS Children’s Hunter Finals before and had a great experience both times.
“It is great to be back, and I know this horse show is just a blast, so any way that I could get here I wanted to make it happen,” Glover detailed. “My round was really fun. I felt like I picked up the right pace, and it was one of those rare rides where you just see the distances. Vida was so perfect and soft and just felt like he was listening perfectly, which made it really fun.”
Nicole Bailin and Zachary were then awarded the grand championship for the WIHS Regional Hunter Horse division for the conclusion of 2016. They were presented with the Black, Starr & Frost Perpetual Trophy, donated by Black, Starr & Frost. Fallyn Belcastro and Chapter Three Z finished in reserve.
Sunday’s competition concluded the 2016 Washington International Horse Show. For full results, please visit www.wihs.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So Enchanted and Caroline Passarelli Sweep the Small Green Pony Hunter Model and Under Saddle
Lexington, KY – Aug. 9, 2016 – Mimi Gochman kicked off her fifth year at U.S. Pony Finals with a win aboard Fair Play Farm’s Storyteller in the Large Pony Model and a third-place finish in the Large Pony Under Saddle, heading into day two of competition sitting in the lead with 521.8 points.
“I’m really excited and very happy,” Gochman said, smiling. “Since I’ve done Pony Finals so many times, it makes me so happy to have success here. In the past few years I’ve gotten better at doing this, but modeling is hard and hacking can be very hard, so to win out of so many kids, I’m very proud of him.”
The 11-year-old, who is based out of West Palm Beach and trains with both the Baxter Hill and Rivers Edge Farm teams, said she got the ride on Storyteller around this time last year, just one week after Pony Finals.
“Story has always been really simple,” Gochman said. “He is easy. He has a great personality. You can always trust him to be safe, and you can always have fun on him, which is really good. He’s funny – he has a great personality. It’s really fun to have a pony that you can hang out with, too. He has a big, grand neck and he’s pretty shiny, thanks to my groom.”
Going into Wednesday’s over-fences class, Gochman acknowledged that her job was not done yet, and said she is going to focus on thinking ahead and continuing to ride her best.
“Tomorrow, I have to keep going,” Gochman said. “I can’t just say that I did well now and not try tomorrow. I’ve got to keep trying really hard. I try not to be nervous and to make it like it’s another show, but again this show is so much fun and we’re in the big ring. The ponies don’t get to go in a big ring like this a lot, so it’s special.”
Coming in second with 258.760 points in the Large Pony model was Ashley Aycox’s Garavani, who was handled by Devin Seek. In third place with 257.37 points was Tantallon Co-Captain of MDHT Equestrian LLC, handled by Dakota Champey.
In the under saddle, it was Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Soldier and Augusta Iwasaki who took home the blue ribbon with their score of 264.58 points. Taking home second place on the flat with a score of 262.5 points was Foxlair Syncopation, ridden and owned by Kayla Jacobs.
Coming in second overall at the end of day one with 509.85 points is Garavani, owned by Aycox and shown by Seek. Heading into day two in third with 506.2 points is R Cinderella Man, owned and shown by Abigail Fox.
So Enchanted and Caroline Passarelli Sweep the Small Green Pony Hunter Model and Under Saddle
Fourteen-year-old Caroline Passarelli rounded out the first day of U.S. Pony Finals with back-to-back blues in the Small Green Pony Hunter division with her mount, So Enchanted.
“Lex,” as the mare is called in the barn, is owned by Jessica Zandri, and Passarelli recently got the ride aboard the 8-year-old chestnut mare in the beginning of June. Despite this new partnership, Passarelli took the top prize in the model before heading back into the ring for the under saddle phase, where she triumphed yet again.
Passarelli was calm and collected going into this year’s U.S. Pony Finals as it is her fifth consecutive year. The Pony Finals veteran trains with the team at Heritage Farm based in Katonah, New York. She only had positive things to say about her mount.
“This pony, she’s really a special one,” Passarelli beamed. “You don’t come across ponies like this many times. She has a great mind; she really wants to win and she knows that she can be the winner.”
“You really have to ride kind of like you’re asking her to do stuff, not telling her,” Passarelli continued. “She really wants you to ride her like she’s the driver. She’s truly amazing – she’s one that you don’t find many times. And for her to have the whole package, it is really special to be able to ride her.”
Passarelli, of High Falls, New York, knew what her game plan was going into the under saddle phase — Lex prefers her pilot to be simple and let her do her job.
“She’s a great mover, so it’s just letting her go forward and kind of do her own thing. She doesn’t like when you fuss with her too much, so you just set her up and leave her there and she likes to hold her own.”
In terms of the model, Passarelli noted, “You can just leave her alone and she’ll look pretty.”
The young rider had a mature and realistic attitude going into Wednesday’s over-fences portion.
“Well, they’re green ponies so anything can happen no matter how great they are the rest of the time, so I’m just planning on giving her a really strong, confident ride and having her be her best. Hopefully, it will all turn out well.”
So Enchanted and Passarelli are heading into the second day of U.S. Pony Finals in the lead in the Small Green Pony Hunters with a total score of 518.46, while Lauren Reed and Starstone are currently sitting in second place with a total of 497.67. Casey Oliver and her mount, Picturesque Bow Tie, are in third with 489.98.
Competition at the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals will resume Wednesday morning in the Walnut Arena starting with the Regular Small Pony Model followed by the under saddle.