Devon, PA – The 2014 Devon Horse Show & Country Fair kicked off on Thursday with junior equitation and young pony competition at the renowned showgrounds in beautiful Devon, PA. Showcasing the best horses and riders in the country, the Devon Horse Show hosts 11 days of top-tier competition across multiple breeds and disciplines through Sunday, June 1.
While junior competitors showed their equitation in Devon's famous Dixon Oval, the young hunter ponies competed in-hand in the Gold Ring on Thursday. The ponies showed in their respective age groups divided by gender, and the top ponies of all ages were then judged together for championship honors. The Best Young Pony was ultimately crowned overall.
The Hunter Pony Championship for Fillies and Mares was awarded to Denise Hankinson's Three Royal Cheers with handler Emily Anne Belin. Jody Vesty's Bryn Taran Miss Riley placed in reserve with handler Jay Raach.
The Hunter Pony Championship for Colts and Geldings went to Orchard Hills Dragonflyy, owned by Orchard Hill Farm Ponies, with handler Oliver Brown. Jamie Sindell's Secretive and handler Dowell Johnson placed in reserve.
Orchard Hills Dragonflyy then earned the Best Young Pony award and was presented The Violet Haines Memorial Challenge Trophy. Handler Oliver Brown was awarded The Magic Hill Farm LLC Challenge Trophy as the Leading Pony Breeder Handler. A special Pennsylvania Pony Breeders Association Perpetual Trophy was also presented to Denise Hankinson's Three Royal Cheers for the second year in a row.
Orchard Hills Dragonflyy (known in the barn as 'Wesley') is a two-year-old colt by Smoke Tree Dragon Tail out of Vanity Fair, owned by Sara McCormick's Orchard Hill Farm Ponies in Aiken, SC. Former top junior rider Elizabeth Lubrano brought the pony along this year after turning professional and deciding to get involved in different aspects of the sport after college. Based out of her family's Horizon Hill Farm in Glenmore, PA, Lubrano has enjoyed making a name for herself in a new way and becoming more well-rounded in the industry.
“I started doing pony handling this year, and Wesley has been living with me since February,” Lubrano explained. “I have been handling him until this horse show and then I handed him off to Oliver Brown because I am still learning and this is a huge venue. I knew that this pony could do something big, and I thought that for Devon we needed to put him in the hands of someone that could do that for him.”
“It was definitely a team effort to get him here,” Lubrano emphasized. “Cindy Diebert was a huge help as well as Jessica Forliano. Without Cindy putting all of the pieces together for today none of this would have happened. She had the connection with Oliver and she knows Jess, who helped handle him today. Stud colts can be difficult, so it is good to have someone who is proficient and Jess is very good. She is the one who made the magic happen today. I have just kind of been managing it from the beginning.”
Owner Sara McCormick plans to keep Orchard Hills Dragonflyy for breeding and can be proud of his top placing and development. Lubrano described the colt as “a bundle of personality,” noting, “He is a funny pony. He runs around in the field with this big jolly ball. He is the one where you go in the barn in the morning, and he is throwing his ball around the stall. He is a goof, but he is a two-year-old colt who is still trying to figure out who he is.”
“He has matured a lot this year,” she added. “He is really easy to live with and it is just a pleasure to work with ponies like that because they keep you entertained. They have all of this personality, and places like this are great venues where they can really show themselves. He likes to show off. He stands there and presents himself, and I think that is what really makes a show pony.”
Lubrano thanked McCormick for the opportunity to work with a great young pony. “Sara has done a fantastic job with that breeding program,” she stated. “I can’t give her enough compliments. Orchard Hill ponies were represented more than any other line here in the hunter breeding. I think she had eight showing. There’s a lot to be said about her lines and her hard work. I am really happy that she has given me the opportunity, because not a lot of people would give a 24-year-old an opportunity to take a winning pony and get it ready for Devon and trust them. Trust is a big foundation for a lot of relationships and I hope that this is one that will continue for a long time.”
While the young ponies were showing off in the Gold Ring, the junior exhibitors competed in their equitation classes in the Dixon Oval. The WIHS Equitation Classic Jumper Phase was held in a California Split and awarded four sets of prizes. Top honors went to Megan MacPherson of Boulder, CO, in Section A. Kelli Cruciotti of Elizabeth, CO, won Section B. Spencer Smith of Wellington, FL, topped Section C, and Michael Hughes of Allendale, NJ, was the winner in Section D.
The Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search was held next in the Dixon Oval with two sections and wins for Caitlin Boyle of Hampshire, IL, and Spencer Smith of Wellington, FL. Boyle was also presented the Honey Craven Perpetual Memorial Trophy for her top score.
The Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal, presented by Randolph College, was held in the Gold Ring with three sections to show. Ashton Alexander of Ocala, FL, won Section A, Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL, won Section B, and McKayla Langmeier of East Granby, CT, won Section C.
The 2014 Devon Horse Show & Country Fair will continue on Friday with junior equitation, hunter and jumper competition as well as the start of the pony hunter divisions. For full results, please visit www.devonhorseshow.com. For those unable to attend the Devon Horse Show in person, you can watch every single round of competition thanks to continuous live-streaming from the USEF Network at www.usefnetwork.com.