Lexington, KY. - The 2016 US Pony Jumper National Championships, held as part of the US Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, came to an exciting conclusion on Saturday night with Individual titles up for grabs. Sixteen combinations came back to jump a fourth round over Jasen Shelley's challenging course, with combinations producing their best performances of the week.
Four combinations entered the Alltech Arena on Saturday tied with four faults coming forward into the final phase of competition. Three of the combinations, Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher of Zone 3, Isabella Durnell and Carlton Diva of Zone 4, and Maya Lovdal and Miracles Happen of Zone 6, finished the final phase with four faults, requiring a jump-off to determine the medals.
Durnell (Suwanee, Ga.) and her own 12-year-old Connemara mare went first and jumped clear with a time of 35.775. Lovdal (Saint Germain, Wisc.) and her own 11-year-old Welsh Pony gelding were up next and tallied eight faults in a time of 36.244. With the pressure on as the last to go, Doloff (Skyesville, Md.) and Bridgid McMurtrie's 11-year-old Welsh Pony gelding delivered a clear round in a time of 33.327 to take the Individiual Gold medal.
Durnell and Carlton Diva earned Silver and Lovdal and Miracles Happen received the Bronze. "It was really good; it was a great comeback from last year where I went off course. I was jumping off for the Bronze last year and missed the last fence, so this is a fantastic comeback from that," Doloff said of his second appearance at "Pony Finals".
"'Dasher' is naturally quicker than most horses and ponies, even when I am not really pushing him since he just has a faster step, so I knew that I didn't have to push that much to make any crazy gambles [in the jump-off] because I knew he would be fast."
The evening concluded with Doloff 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, and his mount Wishlea Star Dasher received the Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America's High Score Award for the Pony Jumper division.
Earlier in the day, three combinations, Megan De Michele and Gracie Lou of the USPC Team, Gabriella Hoard-West and Monstarz Superfly of Zone 3, and Sydney Flashman and Karamel of Zone 10, went clear to win the Farewell class.
The US Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm will conclude Sunday with the Marshall & Sterling/US Pony Medal Finals in Alltech Arena. The live stream on the USEF Network is presented by the USHJA Foundation.
For live scoring, results, schedule, and competitor and hospitality information, go to www.usefconnect.com/ponyfinals.
Find out more information about the US Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm at www.ponyfinals.org.