Wellington, FL – Barbara (Bebe) Davis, a 14-year-old dressage rider who competes in the FEI Pony Division, has wrapped up an amazing winter show season with her two ponies, Poldy 10 and Bohdjan. While she may not be old enough to drive a car, Davis was still able to pilot her equine partners into the winner’s circle time and time again while competing on the prestigious winter show circuit in Wellington, Florida. Davis and Poldy 10 earned a personal and record high score of 75.987% at two different shows in the FEI Pony Individual Test. Their score is the highest any declared pony rider has received since the Pony Division was included for the first time at the Festival of Champions in 2011, according to the United States Equestrian Federation. “The last three shows were really great,” Davis said. “They started out pretty good and I didn’t think they could get any better, but they did. I competed at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby and at two shows at the Global Dressage Festival.”
While at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby, Davis rode away with the Championship and Reserve Championship on both ponies. “Riding ponies is a challenge but I would still recommend it because by the time you get to the horses you feel like its easy,” Davis said, adding that ponies tend to have a bit more “I want to do it my way” attitude than horses do. “I think it’s important to put in your time on the ponies, because the good thing is that in the end you will reap the benefits.”
Davis, who rides with Dr. Cesar Parra at his Piaffe-Performance Farm, said the FEI Pony Divisions are a great warm-up for future divisions she will compete in. “The FEI Pony tests are very challenging because the range of difficulty goes from Second Level to Prix St. Georges,” she said.
In 2011, Davis competed at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions, taking home the Reserve Championship on Bohdjan. “We have been steadily improving since then, and I am currently in first and third place for qualifying for this year,” Davis said. “I love competing the ponies and it really puts a fire in my belly to get other kids to compete ponies.”
Davis kicked off the season with scores of 65% to 67% but her recent scores showed solid growth that thrilled the young dressage rider. “I broke my own record with a 75.987%, then did it again at the following show! It was really exciting,” she said. “I know I have improved because of hard work and more experience in the ring. While my scores are very exciting, and I do want to acknowledge them and be happy, I don’t want them to sidetrack me.”
Davis said her goals for this year are to compete at the national championships again and to take her ponies to Europe and compete there. “Riding ponies really helps you develop as a person. Many times the ponies make you think on your feet and along the way they are certainly teaching me many great life lessons,” she said, adding that because she home schools she has the opportunity to spend a lot of time at the barn. “Trainer Katie Riley of Piaffe-Performance is my rock. She really helps me, but keeps me laughing at the same time. Of course my mom and dad are also incredible. They come to every show and are very supportive. I also would like to thank my sponsors: PanaCavallo, Cavalleria Toscana, and Trilogy Saddlery. Every rider needs a great team behind them and I am so grateful to have the support of so many.”