As this summer’s National Dressage Pony Cup (NDPC) Championship Show is fast approaching, hundreds of competitors from across the country are preparing to descend upon Lexington, Kentucky for this annual showcase of pony talent. In preparation many of these exhibitors have utilized an impressive nationwide network of official NDPC Partner Shows to help hone their skills for the Championships as well as earn special awards and become eligible for year-end titles.
The NDPC Partner Show program has grown dramatically from just 27 participating competitions in 2014 to over 100 shows in 2015. So far in 2016, almost 150 USEF/USDF-licensed dressage competitions nationwide have applied to become designated as official NDPC Partner Shows, offering “pony only” classes and awards as well as an opportunity for small equines to be measured for a USEF Pony Measurement Card. Competitors are eligible for special championship titles at each show, and all scores in “pony only” classes at official Partner Shows are automatically entered in the lucrative NDPC Year-End Awards Program.
“We’re delighted that so many more shows have come on board this year to give exhibitors this opportunity to showcase their talented ponies,” said NDPC vice president Tracy Gross. “We expect to see this trend continue as the demand for these classes increase because we’re seeing more and more riders of all ages enjoying ponies in the dressage arena. It is not too late for shows coming up this Summer and Fall to sign up to be official NDPC Partner Shows – it’s easy, and offers an added incentive for exhibitors to attend your show.”
This added incentive for exhibitors is exactly why the Houston Dressage Society (HDS) chose to add the National Dressage Pony Cup program to their lineup. “With the encouragement of a local sponsor, we first became part of the NDPC Partner Show program last year,” explained HDS manager Leslie Rohrer. “At the time we weren't sure how successful it would be, but since we have a fair number of dressage ponies in our area, we wanted to give it a try and it ended up being very well-received.
“So for 2016, Houston Dressage went ahead and added a Pony division (for all riders combined--Open, AA and Junior) to add extra effort to the pony concept and support the National Dressage Pony Cup program,” Rohrer continued. “At our first recognized show in January, we measured six ponies for their measurement cards – the most we've ever done at one show! Shortly after, a new sponsor who breeds and competes a lot of ponies signed up to support the club. Participation in the Pony division continues to grow and we are also getting questions from riders about going to the National Pony Cup competition in Kentucky. In my opinion, the Pony Cup has brought new energy to HDS and already provided significant success in a very short time.”
This spring NDPC staff was on the road as founder Jenny Carol and vice president Tracy Gross crisscrossed the country to meet dressage pony enthusiasts and cheer on exhibitors at official NDPC Partner Shows from coast to coast. Traveling all the way from the Midwest and Florida to California and south to Houston, Texas, Carol and Gross attended several NDPC Partner Show series in April and May to present special awards, offer Pony Cup-themed merchandise, support pony exhibitors, and even host fun bobbing-for-apples contests for enthusiastic equines. Future stops include venues in Kentucky, Michigan, and Colorado.
One of the shows attended was Dressage at the Gaits, held April 23-24 in Gilroy, Cal. Where Melissa Mulchahey earned NDPC Champion Pony honors with her stallion Petit Marc Aurel. “As a pony enthusiast, it’s been a great deal of fun to have the NDPC Partner Show program available through our local competitions,” Mulchahey explained. “To be able to ride and compete in a peer group is amazing. We have the NDPC classes offered at seven of our local shows this year, and the classes are strongly supported by area pony riders of all ages and we all encourage each other to ride our best. These classes have brought a new feeling of ‘pony camaraderie’ here in Northern California that we would not have had if it were not for the NDPC.”
“Our NDPC Partner Show program is an integral part of what we do as an organization on a local and regional level to help give ponies a place to perform and shine in the dressage arena,” said NDPC founder Jenny Carol. “This is one of my favorite parts of the National Dressage Pony Cup program: being able to travel to shows and meet new people who all share the same passion for ponies. I’m looking forward to welcoming many of the competitors from our Partner Shows to the Championships in Kentucky in a few weeks!”
To find out more information about the NDPC and how you can become involved or sign up to become a NDPC Partner Show, visit www.dressageponycup.com and visit their Facebook page. Final entries are now being accepted for this year’s National Dressage Pony Cup Championship Show – to review the prize list and submit your entry, click HERE. Remember to tune in to the USEF Network to watch the National Dressage Pony Cup LIVE beginning July 8th on www.usefnetwork.com. Show your support – to find out how you can become a sponsor or advertise on the NDPC broadcast on the USEF Network, contact Jenny Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org.