Being the very first competitors down centerline did not prove to be a disadvantage for Lauren Chumley and Nikolas. Melissa Dowling’s dun German Riding Pony turned heads across the showgrounds today, and also attracted the judge’s attention to top 30 other entries in their gigantic Training Level class as Chumley piloted the four-year-old gelding to lead the Open division on a score of 75.769%, winning a tie-break for first with Jamie Lawrence and Elizabeth Clifton’s Welsh gelding Ranlan Llyced DU. “When he first came to be to be broken, he bucked me off twice in five minutes,” Chumley laughed. “But he’s been perfect ever since. He’s a horse show veteran already despite being so young, and the atmosphere doesn’t affect him at all. Our test was nice and forward, he was very supple both ways, and really steady. So I’m pleased and ready to go again tomorrow.” Meanwhile, Ginger Gilmore rode her Welsh Cob Killians Red to top the Adult Amateur ranks with 69.808%, while Hannah Irons claimed the Junior/Young Rider division with the Connemara mare Kynynmont Madigan (owned by Pam Liddell) with 72.885%.
In a neighboring ring, Marie Wagner rode her Welsh Cob gelding Ranlan Jack Flash to win the Second Level Adult Amateur division with 63.846%. Alayna Borden and Marsha Montgomery’s Oldenburg mare Hakuna Matata lead the JR/YR division with the same score, while Kaitlyn Blythe rode the black Connemara gelding Kynynmont Ballytobin (owned by Pam Liddell) to top the Open ranks with 64.103%.
Despite his name, the colorful five-year-old pony gelding Crunch N Munch kept his mind on his work instead of his appetite as he carried Ellen Murphy to victory in the Intro Open division with 69.062%. “He came to me in April to start dressage training, and this is only his second show,” said Murphy. “I was so happy with him. He was a little looky yesterday in the warm-up classes, but he was great today even with the big atmosphere. He has the most amazing mind.” Chincoteague Pony Fresco (owned by Elizabeth Clifton) and rider Kinley Scott lead the JR/YR division (68.750%) while Daphne Nimmons-Marvin rode her American Warmblood gelding Liddle Lord Pippin to the top of the Adult Amateur division on 69.688%.
FEI tests wrapped up the morning session in the main arena, where Hannah Irons rode her Dutch gelding Bohdjan to earn 66.731% in the FEI Pony Team Test, just edging out fellow competitor Brynne Varvel with her Morgan gelding V Back in Black (66.474%). Both competitors also each received a $500 bonus from the NDPC for earning higher than 65% in an FEI test. Bohdjan and her Dutch pony later returned to the ring to cap off her profitable day with another win in the FEI Pony Freestyle with 70.500%.
In the FEI Test of Choice class, Kaitlyn Blythe also earned her second victory of the day, this time with Pam Liddell’s Connemara mare Kynynmont Blue Sapphire. The pair topped the Open division with a high score of 65.789% earned from FEI judge Natalie Lamping for their Prix St. Georges Test (watch the winning ride HERE). Both Blythe and second-placed rider Lauren Chumley (Avatar’s Jazzman) also earned $500 bonus checks from the NDPC for their 65%+ FEI-level scores. In the meantime, leading the Adult Amateur division is Billy Jackson with Janie Pride’s Dutch pony gelding Ilja who earned 64.342% for their Intermediaire I test, while Junior/Young Rider leader Jessica Miltimore rode her 23-year-old Lipizzan/Appaloosa cross mare Galadrials Mirror to lead her division (60.132%) and also accepted special honors for having the oldest pony in the competition. “She never stops going, she was actually a little bit of a brat today!,” laughed Miltimore. “She can have a mind of her own, but continues to be so loyal and hardworking. She carried me to my Silver Medal this year, and even though we may let her drop down a level now, she’s definitely not ready to retire. We’re going to continue to have fun and maybe try a freestyle next year.”
Jane Renner’s long drive from Colorado proved worthwhile as she rode her Connemara gelding Wildwych Bamboozle to the top of the leaderboard for First Level Open with 72.812% as well as the Open Division Musical Freestyle with 69.000%. On top for the Adult Amateurs at First Level was Lori Cole riding her Welsh Cob/Thoroughbred cross It’s Mr. Merlot (70.938%), while Lucero Limones also traveled halfway across the continent from Texas to top the JR/YR division with SSP Stop the Press (Arab/Welsh cross) on 66.250%. Also earning Musical Freestyle victories in the Adult Amateur and JR/YR divisions were Caroline Galecki with her Arabian mare Al-Marah Parade Power on 67.500% and Katrina Sadis aboard German Riding Pony Iridesse SVS with 72.833%, respectively.
Repeat winners became the name of the game as results for the day’s final classes were posted. Former NAJYRC medalist Kaitlyn Blythe simply could not be stopped today aboard Kynynmont Connemaras as she ran away with the Third Level Open division by a 10 point margin with buckskin stallion Kynynmont Cooper O’Grady (71.282%). “It’s been a great day,” said Blythe. “Every pony really stepped up and tried so hard, but especially Cooper, who was the best he’s ever been in a test. He was incredible - he’s so talented and athletic, every movement was spot on. It was an amazing feeling.”
Alayna Borden and Hakuna Matata earned their second JR/YR division win of the day, this time at Third Level with a score of 64.615%, while for Adult Amateurs Kerry Ann Johnson-Miljan won with her North American Sport Pony gelding Red Fish Blue Fish (59.231%). Rounding out the day at Fourth Level, Adult Amateur competitor Marie Wagner earned her second straight win as well, this time aboard the lovely Welsh Cob mare Castleberrys Delight with 63.472%. And finally, Lauren Chumley ended her day as it began – back in the winner’s circle, this time with Melissa Dowling’s charismatic Morgan gelding Avatar’s Jazzman, earning the Fourth Level Open win with 66.667%.
FEI 4* judge Natalie Lamping travels all over the world judging international dressage competition, but she was impressed by what she saw in the day’s NDPC classes. “I was surprised in a very good way: I’ve seen some really nice ponies today which are more correct in their way of going than I’ve seen before,” Lamping explained. “I’m trying to figure out where all this talent has come from – it seems like just a few years ago we had what seemed to be no ponies, and now we’re here at this huge show where they’re competing up to the Intermediaire 1 level. It’s so refreshing. I also think it’s great to see more and more adults choosing to ride and enjoy ponies, instead of their perhaps feeling like they have to ride a horse that’s too big for them just to be competitive. Today proves that’s not the case.”