Ponypalooza at the LA Season Finale (Nov 12-15) lived up to its name with a plethora of special events just for pony riders and their ponies.
Hannah Hieber (Karen Perlow, trainer) and her Glenhaven Golden Idol captured the win in the $1,000 Ponypalooza Large Pony Hunter Final and the grand championship. Reserve champion in the Large Pony Hunter Final, Royal Tuscany (SCM Pony LLC, owner) and Sara Murphy (Marci Mosconi, trainer), also finished as the reserve grand champions. Ariana Marnell (Angel Pitton, trainer) rode to both the champion and reserve champion honors in the $1,000 Ponypalooza Small and Medium Pony Hunter Finals aboard Roll Call (Claire Campbell, owner) and Pink Cadallac (Stone Gate Stables, owner).
Sarah Murphy continued her winning ways by garnering the LEGIS League Children’s Pony Hunter Final aboard Paris (SCM Pony LLC, owner). In this three phase competition, riders competed in Showmanship, Hunters Under Saddle, and a traditional hunter round. Sarah was second in the Showmanship, won the under saddle, and her fourth place over fences gave her the overall title. Reserve champion in the LEGIS League Children’s Pony Hunter Final went to Madison Kaiser (Abby Weinberg, trainer) aboard Dalerose Peppy Kat (Abby Weinberg, owner).
The LAHJA Pony Medal Finals made up the trifecta of pony events comprising Ponypalooza, and Alexandra Farfaras closed out her time riding ponies with the win aboard her own Burberry. The pair also earned some prizes in the jumper ring. Reserve champion in the LAHJA Pony Medal Final went to Sienna Gustafson riding Kapalua (Karen Perlow, owner). Both riders train with Elvenstar. Pony riders also showed off their knowledge in the written portion of the Ponypalooza Equitation Finale, and Charley Stowell earned the highest score with Reeves Sykes in a close second.
And now, hear from the riders themselves about the great time they had at Ponypalooza!
Alexandra ended her show season and pony career on a high note. She and her pony, Burberry, swept both rounds of competition to top the leader board in the LAHJA Pony Medal Final. The pair have been together for about two years and will part ways as Alexandra moves up to horses next year. “This was my last show with Burberry so it was very meaningful and special to win this medal final with her. I was so happy and excited! It was only my second medal final win, so it was really a great feeling. We also were champions in the 0.80M Jumpers,” Alexandra noted. “With two championships in one weekend, I couldn’t have asked for a better final show with Burberry.”
Aboard Paris, Sara won the LEGIS League Children’s Pony Hunter Final. “Paris is one of the most amazing ponies. She is so personal, and I just love her. I don’t see her that often because I live in northern California and fly down to show. But whenever Paris sees me, she immediately recognizes me,” Sara explained. “This show was bittersweet since it will likely be our last show together. With that in mind, I just went in and tried to have as much fun as I could.”
With large pony Royal Tuscany, Sara commented, “I usually show in the hunters, so doing the equitation was definitely out of my comfort zone! I tried hard not to over-release over the jumps like I do in hunters,” Sara commented. “The course for the Equitation Finale was quite challenging and I’d never done anything like it before. There were a lot of tight turns, bending lines, and rollbacks. I had to constantly look ahead so I wouldn’t miss the next turn and make sure my pony knew where we going. It truly exceeded my expectations to win the Equitation Finale and it was definitely a fun way to end the show season!”
Sara’s trainer, Marci, enjoyed taking part in Pony Palooza and was thrilled with Sara’s successful weekend. “We love Ponypalooza! LEG did such a neat job of really making the riders feel special,” Marci noted. “Sara is dedicated to riding. Whenever she comes to the barn, she rides eight to ten ponies a day! She works really hard to balance riding, school, and other sports, so it was great to see her hard work pay off.”
Sienna Gustafson has come a long way this show season with Kapalua. “I’ve been leasing Kapalua for about a year now and this is only my second year showing,” Sienna said. “We moved up from cross rails this year, which has been a huge transition, but it’s been an amazing show season! Sienna and Kapalua ended the season on a high note, earning first, second, or third in more than ten of their classes and taking home the reserve championship in the Children’s Pony Hunter section and the LAHJA Pony Medal Final. “In the past, I have gotten easily distracted by what’s happening outside of the ring, so this show I kept my mind in the ring on focused on my ride,” Sienna shared. “It obviously made a difference and I was so proud that we were consistent throughout the show!”
Nine year-old Ariana Marnell travelled from Las Vegas to show in Ponypalooza at the LA Season Finale with Roll Call and Pink Cadallac, AKA Pinky. “Roll Call is sweet and pretty laid back,” Ariana commented. “Pinky is more forward, but she is very loving and always gives it her all.” Ariana was thrilled to be champion with Roll Call and reserve champion with Pinky in the $1,000 Pony Palooza Small & Medium Pony Hunter Final. “At the beginning of the show, I felt a little nervous about the jumps, but as the show went on I got more confident,” Ariana recounted. “When I found out that I had won both champion and reserve champion, it was an amazing feeling! I felt proud of myself and most of all, proud of my ponies.” Ariana hopes to continue competing in new venues and gaining experience wherever she goes.