Laughter filled the air as happy riders and ponies swimming in colorful ribbons gathered for photos and victory laps at the conclusion of the 2015 National Dressage Pony Cup, held September 5-6 in Lexington, Ky. After two days of competition, a full roster of 2015 champions was named for Intro through FEI levels in Open, Adult Amateur, and Junior/Young Rider divisions, as well as for 20 different breed-specific and high point awards.
The very first champion crowned for 2015 was in the FEI Pony Test division where Hannah Irons of Queenstown, Md. rode Bohdjan to sweep both the Team and Individual Tests for a winning average of 66.811%, which was also good enough to claim the Dutch breed award. Irons and Bohdjan came together thanks to Dressage4Kids, and despite only being together for three months the pair proved to be a winning combination. “I was really happy with him,” said Irons. “He felt more rideable and we were more confident than before. We’re headed to Devon next, and our goal for next year is to qualify for the Festival of Champions.”
Next up was the Intro division, where Ellen Murphy of Georgetown, Ky. and her colorful mount Crunch N Munch claimed the Open division championship with a combined two-test average of 67.531%, while Meredith Denton (Corydon, Ky.) and her grey pony gelding Just G posted a big score of 72% for their Intro C test to overtake the first day’s leader and claim the overall JR/YR division title on an average of 70.063%. But it was an adorable “stolen” pony named Liddle Lord Pippin that carried Daphne Nimmons-Marvin of Paris, Ky. to win the Adult Amateur division and the American Warmblood Society breed award with 68.219%. “Last year my older daughter competed at Prix St. Georges during this show, and I saw everyone at the Pony Cup having a lot of fun so I swiped my younger daughter’s pony so I could come this time,” she laughed. “My daughter does games and jumps him – he’s not a dressage pony and I don’t even have a dressage saddle – and we only had a crash course of four weeks to work together because he’s been so busy this summer as her mount. But we had great rides and such a wonderful time, I might not give him back!”
First Level competitors had to brave scorching afternoon temperatures, but Texas native Lucero Limones and SSP Stop the Press were unfazed by the heat to sweep both tests in the JR/YR division and also the Arabian breed award with an average of 66.434%. Meanwhile, West Chester, Ohio’s Lori Cole and her Welsh Cob/Thoroughbred cross gelding It’s Mr. Merlot also found themselves atop the leaderboard both days of competition to win the First Level Championship as well as Adult Amateur High Point with 68.263%. For the Open division, round one winner Jane Renner had another impressive performance Sunday and will now make the two-day journey back to Franktown, Colo. with her Connemara gelding Wildwych Bamboozle as First Level Open Champions thanks to a two-test average score of 72.509%.
After driving 13 hours from her home in Hackettstown, N.J. for her first trip to the National Dressage Pony Cup, a freak accident nearly derailed Tara Astacio’s hopes for a winning performance with her young palomino Germany Riding Pony Money To Burn. “Right after we got here he fell on the pavement, but after being examined by the veterinarian he was cleared to compete,” she explained. “Even so, I didn’t feel like yesterday was our best test, but today he felt great and it was more like what I thought he could do.” The stunning pair improved on previous day’s fourth-place finish to earn the top score for Training Test 3 and win the overall Training Level Adult Amateur Championship with 66.093%. Among Juniors and Young Riders, Katelyn Mosle of Springboro, Ohio rode the five-year-old bay pinto Oldenburg Benno’s Watermark to also rebound from a close second in the first round to win Sunday’s test by a comfortable five-point margin and claim her division championship on an average of 71.888%. In the Open division, Lauren Chumley (Babtistown, N.J.) and Melissa Dowling’s four-year-old Nikolas once again set the standard for the rest of the 30-competitor class to earn an impressive two-test average of 75.157% to win the Open Training Level Championship, the German Riding Pony breed award, and the Open High Point award.
Former NAJYRC medalist Kaitlin Blythe (Rougemont, N.C.) continued her winning ways from Saturday as she celebrated victory in the Second Level Open Championship with 64.491% aboard Pam Liddell’s black Connemara gelding Kynynmont Ballytobin. In the JR/YR division, Brynne Varvel of Bloomington, Ind. and her Morgan gelding V Back in Black dominated the round’s Second Level Test 3 to win the overall title with an average of 65.691%, while Adult Amateur competitor Marie Wagner (Barberton, Ohio) rode her Welsh Cob gelding Ranlan Jack Flash to win her division championship with 63.874%. Wagner had a busy but victorious weekend as she also rode her Welsh Cob mare Castleberrys Delight to sweep the Fourth Level Adult Amateur classes and win a second title with an average of 63.681%. “We accomplished our goals for the weekend with both ponies, and they were terrific - especially ‘Delight’ who really rose to the occasion,” said Wagner. “I am a great pony fan and we love coming here, the Pony Cup never disappoints. We’ll keep coming back because we always know we’ll have fun!”
Kerry Ann Johnson-Miljan drove from Palmyra, Wis. to win the Third Level Adult Amateur tri-color with her gelding Red Fish Blue Fish, who also received the North American Sport Pony breed award on their winning average of 60.193%. Alayna Borden of Lambertville, N.J. and Marsha Montgomery’s mare Hakuna Matata swept both of their classes to claim their share of awards, topping the Third Level JR/YR division as well as earning the Oldenburg Breed Award (62.436%). Before leaving the Kentucky Horse Park, Kynynmont Connemaras would claim a final championship as Kaitlin Blythe and Pam Liddell’s buckskin stallion Kynynmont Cooper O’Grady cruised to an easy victory in the Third Level Open division with 70.834%, and also won the American Connemara Pony Society breed award.
After successfully competing with six ponies at the National Dressage Pony Cup, Lauren Chumley already had plenty of prizes to take home to New Jersey by Sunday afternoon. But she had one more thing she wanted to do, and aboard Melissa Dowling’s Morgan gelding Avatar’s Jazzman she entered the main arena with a look of determination. “I wanted to win,” she said emphatically. “This horse is awesome and he knows it, but after the first day we needed to get it together. We can both be overachievers and a little overzealous by nature, but today we had it right and we could go for it.” The strategy paid off as the pair earned the Fourth Level Open title (66.556%) and scored a come-from-behind victory in FEI Test of Choice Open division (65.790%), winning the Morgan breed award in the process. In the Adult Amateur FEI ranks, Billy Jackson of Columbus, Ga. rode Janie Pride’s Dutch pony gelding Ilja to win their division and earn the Performance Horse Registry breed award with 63.553%, while Junior/Young Rider leader Jessica Miltimore (Newark, Ohio) rode her 23-year-old Lipizzan/Appaloosa cross mare Galadrials Mirror to win not only their FEI division championship but were also given the Pugsley Memorial Award, presented to the grade pony with the highest calculated average.
“I am so overwhelmed by the incredible show of support that we’ve seen from riders, owners and breeders since we started the National Dressage Pony Cup eight years ago,” said founder Jenny Carol. “Each edition has gotten better, but this year was simply astounding – to have so many people come from all over the country to be here is inspiring. We’re already thinking about how the NDPC can do even more to promote ponies in dressage, and we can’t wait for next year!”
Complete results from the National Dressage Pony Cup can be found at this link: http://www.dressageponycup.com/results-1.html. For more information about the NDPC, visit www.dressageponycup.com, and to see updates and photos from the competition, visit their Facebook page.