Lexington, KY—Last night the joint was, as they say, jumpin’. Day three of the five-day USEF Pony Finals National Championships kicked off this morning with Phase I for the Regular Pony Hunters (model and under saddle), moved on to the Small Pony over fences class, and segued by sunset into the rousing 2009 USEF National Pony Jumper Team Championship.
This year’s Small Pony Hunter title went to 11-year-old Carly Reinsel, of Alpharetta, GA, and her pony Everyday Enzo, owned by Carallino Farm. After landing 13th following Thursday’s model and hack class, Reinsel, today, bested 89 competitors to claim the blue ribbon with her overall score of 1,021.
“This is my first time riding him,” said the jubilant Reinsel, “and I love him.” While this is Reinsel’s fourth year at pony finals it marks the first time she has ribboned. And her win today was part of a sweep. She was also 8th overall in the Small Green Ponies and was reserve champion in the Welsh Pony competition.
Reinsel, however, seemed unfazed by the by magnitude of it all. When asked if she was at all nervous entering the vast Walnut Arena, she noted, “Only at first, when you hear everyone clapping for the pony ahead of you.”
Second place in the small ponies went to Lucy Nyland-Elliott and her pony Misty Blue Paris, while third place went to Pearl Theodosakis aboard Marigot Bay Farm’s Made for Me.
Later in the evening, 10 hopeful zone teams took to the big fences, but when the dust settled under the lights in the Kentucky Horse Park’s covered arena, it was zone 8 that emerged victorious in the Pony Jumper finale.
Georgia Griffis, 13, Amelia Drumm, 14, Megan MacPherson, 13, and Madeline Thatcher, 13, earned the Gold by accumulating only four faults over two blistering rounds. When the least score was dropped, the team ended with a zero-fault finish, leaving no need for a jump off.
Griffis, who went double-clear, has been partnered with her pony Pikatchu, 14, for only about a year. “This is my first pony finals,” she said, “but he is an amazing pony. He is totally responsive and has plenty of scope, and if I ride him correctly he can win anything.”
As for the course, Drumm, aboard her pony Rosabelle, also 14, pointed to the triple combination as a trouble spot. “Bending from a big oxer to a triple, and the triple ending was so short that you had to really go fast and then whoa. It was hard to get you pony to soften and go forward.”
Thatcher and her nine-year-old pony Bally Mac, also double-clear tonight, felt her preparations had paid off. “After a year of doing children’s jumpers and a lot bigger jumps it was not a problem for me, and I wasn’t concerned for my pony,” she added, “I knew he could jump clear.”
But the most intriguing member of the team, however, may be Color me Ziggy the pony ridden by MacPherson. “She is an eight-year-old American Mustang and she was found in the wild,” said MacPherson. “This is my first year doing the jumpers and she’s has taught me so much.”
Chef d’equipe Kathy Johnson was, naturally, feeling tremendously proud of her team. “They’ve all become best buddies,” she says. “They did just great.”
Zone 5, made up of Ricky Mershad, Bella Cramer, Abbie Ross and Amanda Metzler were the evening’s Silver medalists with four faults, and the U.S. Pony Club Team, Nicole Kehrli, Lauren Walling, Lauren Attanasio, and Carly Attanasio, took the Bronze with a total 12 faults.
The 2009 USEF National Pony Finals will continue tomorrow with the final over fences phase for the Pony Hunters and the Individual Jumper Championship. The competition will conclude on Sunday August 9 with the Equisport Insurance/USEF Pony Medal Championship and award ceremonies.
For more information about Pony Finals, please contact Marion Maybank, USEF’s Director of Hunter Disciplines at (859) 225-2033 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the USEF Pony Finals, visit www.clubequestrian.com/coverage/pony_finals_2009.aspx.
Photo Credit: Team Gold medalists—Zone 8—from the Team Jumper competition. Photo credit: USEF Archive/Randi Muster.