M.K. Connatser and Blitz und Donner Win USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship Title

Sunday, August 28, 2022
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The five youth athletes and their ponies rode their second test to determine the winning pair of the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship. M.K. Connatser and Blitz und Donner had a quality ride in the FEI Pony Rider Individual Test to win the class with a score of 66.981%. Connatser (Dallas, Texas) and Linda Graves’s 2011 German Riding Pony gelding moved into the top spot in the overall standings to win the National Champion title with a score of 66.347%.

Photo - M.K. Connatser and Blitz und Donner (SusanJStickle.com)

“Crazy. Crazy. I did not expect this at all,” said Connatser, who won her second title this week after winning the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 13 & Under division on Friday. “I am so happy that it happened, but I did not come in here thinking anything other than top half [of the division]. But I'm very, very happy and very grateful to Linda Graves, who has allowed me to ride this pony; my trainers, Allison Stai and Yvonne Kusserow; my parents; and my friends. It's been a wonderful experience with this pony and with all of them.”

Watch the full class.

Maryn Geck (West Linn, Ore.) and Whinny, Laura Geck’s 2004 Welsh Pony mare, scored 64.274% in the FEI Pony Rider Individual Test and were the Reserve Champions with an overall score of 65.922%. Finley Peterson (Woodstock, Vt.) and Mystic Max, her 2006 German Riding Pony gelding, scored 65.314% in the FEI Pony Rider Individual Test and finished third overall with a score of 65.204%.

Overall championship results

From the Mixed Zone:

What do you like about riding ponies and doing the Pony Rider division?

Connatser: “First of all, I'm the right size for it, so I still can. And I love riding them because they teach you a lot. Even though everyone thinks little ponies are so calm, they're not. They're quite onery and they’ve taught me a lot. Most of my time in riding them has taught me a lot of stuff, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. So, I love this division that we still get to keep the ponies in the U.S. especially because we don't have a lot of [the classes] and so we get to represent them. Every other division is about horses, so it's great to represent them and show them off as well.

Geck: “I'm obviously the right size for it. I've been riding ponies for all my life, and they've definitely taught me pretty much everything I know. And they're just a really good breed. And I love them with all my heart. They can be a little sassy, but they definitely have a kind heart. I just love like the pony division and everything about it, and all the people in it are really kind.

Peterson: “Like they said, I'm definitely the perfect size for it. I just love them so much. They're just they teach you a lot of new things that you would not necessarily learn on a horse. They're definitely a little sassy, but they really try their hearts out and they're just really great.”

Competition concludes Sunday at 8 a.m. CT in the Markel Arena with the FEI Six-Year-Old Final Test of the Markel/USEF Young Horse Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship, while the Grand Prix Arena starts at 8:30 a.m. CT with the FEI Children Individual Test of the USEF Children Dressage National Championship.

Watch the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions live stream this week on USEF Network.

Complete Schedule
Live Scoring