Lexington, Ky. - Team Championship in the US National Pony Jumper Championship was at stake Friday evening as teams competed in the two-round Nations Cup format. Following the first round, the top teams came back to jump the same course in round two, with a total of 36 combinations jumping for individual classification.
The team from the U.S. Pony Club proved unbeatable as they cruised to the 2014 Team Championship on a score of eight faults. The team comprised of pairs from all over the United States, including Julianna Empie (Chester Springs, Pa.) and Northwind's Opus, Magdalene Mann (Buzzards Bay, Mass.) and Diego, Genevieve Munson (Rogers, Ark.) and Bluebelle, and Lizzy Simonian (Humble, Texas) and Blues Traveler.
In the first round of the evening, Munson finished with a clear round, while Empie and Simonian each had four faults, and Mann finished with 21. Empie, Munson, and Simonian all went clear in round two, while Mann was unfortunately eliminated. Ten-year-old Munson was one of just four riders to finish the night double clear.
Munson felt there were a few basic keys to overcoming the course that proved very challenging for many riders.
"You just have to take it one jump at a time," Munson said. "For me it's just sit back, look up, and know your horse."
U.S. Pony Club Chef d'Equipe Richard Lamb believes his team did have one small advantage over the others.
"The main difference, I think, for all of them is I've worked with all of them before, except Maggie, and three of them were able to come last week," Lamb said. "They showed at the horse show here and that's what really set us up for this week. A lot of times I don't see the kids until this week, so they come on Monday and we school a little bit, but I thought we were better prepared."
Simonian added that her team had another advantage Lamb didn't mention.
"I want to say a big thank you to Richard," Simonian noted. "He has been the best coach I could have ever imagined. I think he's the only coach that has managed my anxiety so well. It's only for showing; I just turn into this big stress monster. He helps everyone; I don't think we'd do as well without him. I'm so happy that we have him."
A total of four combinations jumped double clear on Thursday night, including the U.S. Pony Club's Munson and Bluebell, along with Zone 8's Cecily Coors (Denver, Colo.) and Monstarz Superfly, Zone 1's Hannah Robbins (Chester, N.H.) and As it Fits, and Zone 5's Carson Ruff (Maple Park, Ill.) with Jet Pilot.
In Individual standings, Coors and Munson lead on a three-round total of zero faults.
The Individual Champion for the 2014 US National Pony Jumper Championship will be crowned following the conclusion of Saturday's Individual Final.