Lexington, KY - The Medium Green Pony Hunters boasted a grand total of 67 entries on the fourth day at the U.S. Pony Finals, and it was Kyla Sullivan aboard Back Country Farm's Not So Secret that reigned supreme. Sullivan was also reserve champion on Thursday in the Small Pony Hunters with A Dream Come True, owned by DK-USA Sporthorse LLC.
Sullivan is 12 years old and trains with Jill and Sydney Shulman at the Greenwich, Connecticut-based Back Country Farm. Although this is Sullivan's fourth time at the prestigious U.S. Pony Finals, this year proved to be extra successful. Being able to block everything out and concentrate on putting in a solid round is just one of many of Sullivan's strengths. "I just try to focus on what I'm doing and not what everyone else is doing," she said. "It helps a lot."
"Oliver," as Sullivan calls her pony back in the barn, was described as "very easy going and very smooth and he's a lot of fun to ride." She added, "He landed all of his leads which is really good for him and he went very smoothly and nicely."
While Jill Shulman has owned Oliver for quite a while, Sullivan's partnership with the liver chestnut gelding only began about six months ago. Waiting at the Walnut Arena in-gate, Jill Shulman's instructions for Sullivan were clear but simple.
"We wanted it to all match we wanted it to be smooth, for a green pony it can be dramatic and have some brilliant moments. We just wanted to be pretty solid all the way around," Shulman stated.
Sullivan followed the directions she was told and it paid off - the pair earned the blue ribbon over-fences. In the model phase, Not So Secret was given seventh place by the judges out of a large field of entries. Combined, the pair earned 985.380 points across the division. "
He is very easy, really one of the easiest green ponies we've ever brought to the ring. I think it's because he had some real little kids ride him in the short stirrup," Shulman noted. "He's very tried and true."
The talented team will also try their hands in the Pony Medal on Sunday, the final day of U.S. Pony Finals, before traveling to CHJA Finals and then indoors in the fall. Sullivan is also planning to show a Large Green pony, Tiger Lily, this week at U.S. Pony Finals.
Claiming the overall reserve championship in the Medium Green Ponies were Laura Owens' Editor's Note, with Augusta Iwasaki in the irons.
The long journey from the West Coast to the bluegrass state was all worth it for the Calabasas, California native. Iwasaki is a 12-year-old rider who trains with her mother, Liz Reilly, and John French at Makoto Farms.
Iwasaki guided the 6-year-old gelding around the course to a sixth place finish over-fences. Rounding out the top three spots were Alexa Aureliano and Taylor Howard's Westwood Oliver Twist with 956.330 points.
For more information visit www.ponyfinals.org