Claire Khuen led her pony “Thank Heavens into the Grand Prix ring at HITS Ocala to receive the Circuit Champion award in the Large Pony Hunter division accompanied by his rider Ashton Alexander and her mother Lisa Alexander. Even the pouring rain couldn’t dampen Khuen’s spirits as she celebrated afterwards, especially when she realized her pony had also taken the lead in the USEF national point standings.
“It’s always exciting to win, but this is especially nice to be number in the country on the same day!” exclaimed Khuen. But “Willie” wasn’t the first good pony bred by Claire and Carl Khuen at Liberty Farm, in Reddick, Florida.
If you had asked Claire Khuen, 10 years ago what she could see herself doing now, it would not have been standing at the pony ring!!! She was a successful amateur jumper rider with many wins in the hunter and jumper rings to her credit. But when the first pony she bred, “Good Heavens” who was a granddaughter of her good jumper “Heaven Sent” was named Large Green Pony Hunter Circuit Champion at WEF and was 3rd overall at the USEF Pony Finals in the Large Pony division, Khuen was hooked.
Claire has now produced four ponies in her line. Other siblings include “A Blonde Moment” also shows in the Large Pony Hunters and two more five year olds on their way to the ring later this year. Asked if this successful breeding combination was just attributed to good luck or careful planning. “Carl, Claire’s husband explained that the ponies are bred to be athletes. Heaven Sent was a TB by Catch On Fire with the great bloodlines of the famous Bon Nuit, grand sire of Gem Twist. The ponies’ dam sire is Positive Step who was by Mr. Leader, by Hail To Reason. Combine that with “Blue Rain”. The leading pony sire in the country and you are going to have athletes.
Claire attributes much of her success with the ponies to the great help she has had along the way. “I am so thankful to the wonderful good-riding kids that have helped me and to their parents who have lent them to me! I have had the help of many knowledgeable professionals and of course…I can’t forget my loyal friends that I have dragged to the ring more than they would ever care to admit, to clap and whistle!” She smiles. Claire has also enjoyed meeting a different crowd of people than she knew at the jumper ring. “I’ve watched many of the kids who have ridden for me grow up and become top juniors and even professionals. It’s been fun for me to watch them grow.”