In its first day, the 10th Anniversary of the National Dressage Pony Cup Championship Show is already one for the record books. An astounding 114 ponies representing 26 states from literally coast to coast have converged upon the Kentucky Horse Park for this annual showcase of pony power, being held July 7-9, 2017 in conjunction with the Kentucky Dressage Association (KDA) Summer Classic I & II.
A somewhat soggy start thanks to the previous day’s deluge surrendered to glorious blue skies within the first hour, and exhibitors’ excitement shone just as brightly as the sun as they contested the first of two rounds of championship competition ranging from Intro to Grand Prix. And thanks to livestreaming on the USEF Network, pony enthusiasts around the world were able to follow the action with expert commentary by FEI 5* (ret) judge Axel Steiner.
In the Open Musical Freestyle ranks, Ana DiGironimo’s faith in her Arabian mare Ana Mariah C paid off with a win for their The Wizard of Oz-themed Third Level freestyle (66.833%). “When I first saw ‘AM’ in a field, I could see that she was beautiful but was told that she was so bad that no one could ride her,” explained DiGironimo, who owns DQ Performance Horses in Turnersville, N.J. “I said, ‘I’ll ride her!’ They were right – she was really naughty – but we had a connection from the start, and so it began. I think there are many exciting things ahead for us.”
All day, competition was fierce across three rings of non-stop Pony Cup competition which is part of the largest KDA July show to date, the demand for which necessitated the last-minute addition of a sixth dressage ring and the hiring of two additional judges. Just such a battle is already shaping up in the First Level Amateur division as the top two finishers wound up in a scoring tie which proved impossible to break. For now, Tara Astacio of Hackettstown, N.J. with her German Riding Pony gelding Money To Burn and Susan Faulkner of Greer, S.C. with Princeton will have to share the overnight lead, each with a score of 67.188%.
Wrapping up an incredible first day was competition in the Intro Level divisions, where for amateurs, Deborah Stevenson of Clarks Hill, Ind. took a comfortable lead with 72.500% earned with her Haflinger mare Bell of the Ball. Not to be outdone, Shannon Cessna and Loyal Lisa DCH earned their second victory of the day, this time in the Open Intro division with 71.875%.
For juniors age 16 and under at Intro Level, Grace Lipuma of Dayton, Ohio climbed to the top of the leaderboard with her Welsh gelding I Will 4 U with 67.188%, while Keara Sonntag and Storm found the winner’s circle for the second time today by claiming the 17-21 age group with 62.813%.
To watch the National Dressage Pony Cup LIVE, visit the USEF Network– coverage resumes Saturday, July 8th at 7:30am ET. Complete results from the first day of competition is available here. To find out more information about the National Dressage Pony Cup programs, visit the NDPC website at www.dressageponycup.com and visit their Facebook page. To view National Dressage Pony Cup championship show information including prize list, exhibitors, classes and ride times, visit www.showsecretary.com.