With the 2015 USEF Pony Finals just days out, many of the nation's top pony competitors have already made their way to the Kentucky Horse Park to prepare during the Kentucky Summer Horse Show. Such is the case for young rider Emma Kurtz, who piloted Cherrybrook Skye Blue to the Large Pony Hunter Section A division championship on Sunday.
Although Kurtz only acquired the ride on Cherrybrook Skye Blue three weeks ago, the duo was nearly unstoppable against the field of 35 top-class ponies. During Saturday's competition, Kurtz and Cherrybrook Skye Blue, owned by Christine Carlsen, navigated the Bobby Murhpy-designed course to back-to-back second place ribbons. "He was really good Saturday," Kurtz said. "He's a great pony. He's really lazy, like really lazy, but he is basically the perfect pony. You don't have to worry about anything."
On Sunday, Emma and the eye catching white gelding returned ready to win, claiming blue ribbons in both the conformation and handy over-fences rounds. "He felt amazing today," Kurtz said. "He always does. He's just such a great pony."
The division's reserve championship went to Claudia Freeman and Spellbound, owned by Ponies and Palms Show Stables, whose first and two thirds yesterday left them in a strong position for Sunday, where the duo placed second twice to secure the reserve honors. "He's awesome," Freeman said. "He just goes around so easily and is such a nice ride. I started riding him at [the Saratoga Springs Horse Show in May]. He's awesome. He loves attention."
Returning for her third USEF Pony Finals, Freeman is looking forward to competing Spellbound in the Large Pony Hunter division at the Kentucky Horse Park next week. "The Kentucky Horse Park is a great venue," Freeman said. "I love Kentucky, and even the shows before Pony Finals. There's so much to do; you really can't get bored."
Kurtz will also be competing in Pony Finals on a large pony, a large green pony and a medium green pony. I really love how exciting they make it with so much stuff to do," Kurtz said of the annual competition. "They make it a really big deal, which is really fun." In the Large Pony Hunters Section B, the championship was awarded to Grace Everett and Dianne Randolph's Hidden Springs Linus, with the reserve going to Maddie Weber's Kingston and Augusta Iwasaki.