Wellington, FL - Pony kids demonstrated their talents this weekend during the ninth week of the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Small Pony Hunters, sponsored by Gotham North, commenced competition in Ring C today at the South Grounds of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The top finisher in the Small Pony Hunters was Daisy Farish aboard Ballou, owned by Victoria Colvin.
Farish and her flashy chestnut gelding have been champion several times in the Small Pony Hunters throughout the 2010 FTI WEF Circuit, and added another tricolor to their list of accomplishments today. "He's really smooth, and he just kind of does whatever you want," Farish said of Ballou (below). Farish rides with Patricia Griffith and Heritage Farm.
The pair finished first, third, third and fifth over fences this weekend, earning a total of 19 points to clinch the championship over Meredith Darst and Hillcrest's Blue Gem Stone, owned by Lochmoor Stables. Darst and Hillcrest's Blue Gem Stone were right behind Farish and Ballou, with a total of 16 and a half points for the reserve champion ribbon.
Farish, a nine-year-old third grader from Kentucky, commutes to Wellington to compete on weekends. "It's a little bit hard, but it's worth it," Farish explained of her busy travel schedule. "I mostly just ride," she commented when asked if she has time for any other extracurricular activities.
Green Pony Hunters took action today as well at the South Grounds, and Maggie Gampfer rode Keeley Gogul's Silver Sails to the championship in the Small/Medium Green Pony Hunter division. The reserve champion ribbon was awarded to Victoria Colvin and Newsprint, owned by Scott Stewart.
Gampfer has had the ride on the seven-year-old gelding for four weeks. "He's been great the last couple weeks. He's been champion, and he's so easy when you go in the ring. He has a huge stride and can get down the lines easily. He has an amazing jump, and he can jump from any distance perfectly," she described.
Gampfer, of Wellington, FL, is a 17-year-old junior at Palm Beach Central High School. She usually trains with Jennifer Bieling, but owner Keeley Gogul helps her when she rides Silver Sails. Gogul has owned the pony for about a year and a half.
"He is absolutely proof that starting them the right way and going slowly pays off in the end," Gogul said about her training strategy with Silver Sails. "The people we bought him from did a beautiful job starting him, and we've brought him along slowly and waited for him to be ready. He's been so good down here it blows my mind," she continued.
Week nine of the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has concluded, and week 10 will run from March 17-21 with a full schedule of hunter divisions.
The 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 13 through April 4. WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are "AA" rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $5.5 million in prize money will be awarded.
Photo Credits: All Photos © 2010 Randi Muster/Mustphoto, Inc., Official Sport Photographer of the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival.