Lendon Gray seems always in motion. She has never been one to rest on her laurels and always works tirelessly for her causes. Famous first for her success as a competitive rider and trainer and promoter of young riders, in recent years Lendon has also been the driving force behind pony promotion in the U.S. in her effort to encourage Americans to give the pony its due. It was Lendon who helped launch the East Coast Pony Cup.
The inaugural Pony Cup was held during the August 2006 CDI competition at the HITS-on-the-Hudson show grounds in Saugerties, New York. The purpose of this annual competition, Lendon says, is to highlight the dressage talent of ponies by providing them with a venue to compete at all levels, from Training to Grand Prix. Unlike most pony competitions, this one is for riders of all ages. "If you're 80 and have a pony, you can ride," Lendon said. "What I want to do with the ponies is get them seen and acknowledged as the perfect mount for children and small adults."
It's perhaps no surprise that Lendon was behind this quest. As a rider and trainer she has always been known for her skills in developing and competing ponies and smaller horses. One of her most famous successes in this capacity was with Seldom Seen, who was just a tad above pony height at 14.2 1/2-hands.
Lendon and Seldom Seen competed successfully all the way to Grand Prix, clearly showing that "size matters not." Together, they made the short list for the Olympics and World Championships four times. Seldom Seen was so successful that he was the national champion for Third Level all the way through to Grand Prix. No doubt, he was an exceptional small horse, but Lendon believes there are many "small stars" out there just waiting for the chance to shine. She's working to create the venues that will give them that chance.
Ponies are popular dressage mounts in Europe and it has been Lendon's goal to make them just as popular in the U.S. Her ultimate dream is to see a U.S. pony team competing successfully on the international scene. Odds are, it'll happen because Lendon has shown as much success in achieving goals on the ground as she did in the saddle. She brings to every venture she launches a drive, passion and determination to succeed. And, perhaps most importantly, she always has a clear plan for getting what she wants.
The Pony Cup is part of a well-thought plan toward eventually building that U.S. pony team able to compete at the international level. Lendon has promoted a national pony championship as the next step in the plan. After that she envisions a North American pony championship. If all goes as planned, Lendon expects that the U.S. will one day have a pony team that can give the Europeans a run for their money.