In its first day, the 10th Anniversary of the National Dressage Pony Cup Championship Show is already one for the record books. An astounding 114 ponies representing 26 states from literally coast to coast have converged upon the Kentucky Horse Park for this annual showcase of pony power, being held July 7-9, 2017 in conjunction with the Kentucky Dressage Association (KDA) Summer Classic I & II.
A somewhat soggy start thanks to the previous day’s deluge surrendered to glorious blue skies within the first hour, and exhibitors’ excitement shone just as brightly as the sun as they contested the first of two rounds of championship competition ranging from Intro to Grand Prix. And thanks to livestreaming on the USEF Network, pony enthusiasts around the world were able to follow the action with expert commentary by FEI 5* (ret) judge Axel Steiner.
After winning the Junior/Young Rider First Level title last year, 13-year-old Caitlyn Massey is back for her third Pony Cup in pursuit of even more awards. Having no trouble moving up to Second Level with her Welsh cross mare Zassafrass, Massey took a commanding lead in the 16 & under division with a 67.564%. “I was really pleased with our ride. My pony loves showing here, and for me, it’s such a great atmosphere – everyone’s so friendly, and I like being around that kind of energy,” said Massey, who also competes successfully in NDPC Partner Shows near her home in Arlington, Tenn. Despite her success, she’s not one to rest on her laurels as she prepares for the second round of competition on Saturday. “I’m going to go back and read over the judge’s comments on the test and work to get an even better score tomorrow!”
After winning a multitude of awards in the Junior/Young Rider divisions last year as well as earning a Master’s degree in microbiology, Kalie Beckers of Independence, La. is back at the Pony Cup with a vengeance, this time graduating to the Open division ranks to top a field of 14 at First Level. Once again aboard her Welsh Cob mare Madoc Mari, the pair earned 68.594% to take a two-point lead going into Saturday’s final round of competition.
For the 16 & under group, 11-year-old Olivia Brown of Charlotte, N.C. took command of her First Level division with a whopping score of 74.531% earned from judge Hilda Gurney aboard Balthazar, a Belgian Riding Pony gelding that Brown describes as a “hunter reject” but who clearly enjoys his new career path. And in the First Level 17-21 division, Gillian Kingsbury of Raleigh, N.C. rode her half-Arabian mare Halle Berry MC to claim the first of two days-worth of competition with 63.906%. This elegant pair returned during the afternoon session to also claim the lead at Second Level for riders 17-21 with 64.359%.
Another young star returning to the National Dressage Pony Cup Championship Show this year is Magnum. Klaus Biesenthal’s striking gray six-year-old North American Sport Pony stallion is not only a head turner for spectators, but he also knows how to impress the judges. Ridden by Kathryn Barry of Freeport, Ill., Magnum followed up on his 2016 Training Level Open title by easily moving up to Second Level and taking an impressive lead in the Open division with 74.872%. Meanwhile, symphony musician Lori Lamattina of Dayton, Ohio proved that her Fjord gelding WW Rudig has overcome his formerly-spooky ways as they earned 70.897% to easily claim victory in the Second Level Amateur division.
To watch the National Dressage Pony Cup LIVE, visit the USEF Network at – coverage resumes Saturday, July 8th at 7:30am ET. Complete results from the first day of competition is available here. To find out more information about the National Dressage Pony Cup programs, visit the NDPC website at www.dressageponycup.com and visit their Facebook page. To view National Dressage Pony Cup championship show information including prize list, exhibitors, classes and ride times, visit www.showsecretary.com.