Saugerties, NY (August 4, 2014) – Thirteen-year old Abigail Tinsley is making the most of her final moments with her medium pony In the Game. Doing what all children must – grow up – Tinsley will soon move on from In the Game, but she’ll do it covered in accolades from the Eaton & Berube Children’s Hunter Pony Finals presented by Mona’s Monograms.
Tinsley rode to Grand Champion honors with a combined score of 85.5, winning both the model and under saddle phases before jumping to second over fences. “We’ve had a lot of fun times together but this was the best experience ever,” said Tinsley, who hails from Sudbury, Massachusetts. “I was so excited when I heard my name called as Grand Champion.”
Under the direction of Mitch and Kathy Steege, as well as Jen Cumming at Red Acre Farm in Stow, Massachusetts, Tinsley has been riding In the Game since 2012. “He’s a lot like me,” said Tinsley of the 17-year old Welsh Pony gelding. “We’re both quirky but he takes care of me. My favorite moment was when we landed after the last jump and I knew we had put in a great round.”
Eaton & Berube Children’s Hunter Pony Finals competition got underway on Saturday with model and under saddle classes, concluding Sunday with an over fences phase. Scores were calculated with the model worth 20%, under saddle worth 30% and over fences worth 50%. The class took place on the Outside Course at HITS-on-the-Hudson and introduced Children's Pony riders to the popular bank fences featured in HITS’ hunter prix courses throughout the season.
“I was nervous about the bank,” said Tinsley. “But kept my leg on and told him it was going to be okay. Before I knew it we were over the jump and on to the next.”
While the format and courses presented to riders at the Finals may have been unfamiliar, they excelled. “A lot of these kids have never seen a class like this,” said Tinsley's mother Pam Bendock, who had two daughters competing (Caroline Tinsley in the small ponies). “I give these riders a lot of credit for stepping out of their comfort zone and conquering something new today.”
While the competition was fierce, there was much camaraderie. The in-gate was a place of cheering and encouragement. “To see kids come out of the ring to congratulations from fellow riders was such a nice show of support,” said Bendock.
Riders, trainers and parents alike were also met with a ringside ice cream social, and welcome party in the Verizon VIP Club Friday night.
Kathy Steege planned the summer showing schedule at Red Acre Farm around the Eaton & Berube Children’s Hunter Pony Finals and was ecstatic with Tinsley’s results. “She’s a worker and always figures out anything that’s thrown at her in the ring,” said Steege. “Her biggest hurdle is nerves. When she controls them, there’s nothing she can’t do and today she nailed it. This kind of success is sweet and all of these riders accomplished something great today.”
Michelle Wolff of New Rochelle, New York, who rides with Audrey Feldman took home Reserve Champion honors with large pony Cassius Clay, owned by Danielle Holliday. Third overall was Chloe Terestchenko of New York, New York aboard her own large pony Benlea Sea Wolf, trained by Alexandra Talmage.