Lexington, KY – August 10, 2012 – The rain had dissipated, and a cool brisk day greeted young riders and their ponies for the fourth day of the 2012 US Pony Finals and US National Pony Hunter Championships presented by Sallee Horse Vans. The Large Pony Hunters took center stage in the Walnut ring early in the morning, completing their model and under saddle phases. It was a demanding day of competition for the Small Pony Hunters as they completed the final phase, the over fences. At the end of the day it was Madeline Schaefer and Hi Lite who claimed the Overall Small Pony Hunter Championship for their outstanding consistency throughout the division, and astounding round over fences.
It is Schaefer’s fifth year competing at the US National Pony Hunter Championships, and so far she has proven herself to be a dominating force in the irons of her talented mounts. Already having picked up the Medium Green Hunter Pony Championship on the second day of competition with her own Frosted, Schaefer continued her success with Hi Lite, riding to the blue ribbon in the over fences with the outstanding scores of 88, 90 and 88 for an overall total of 1047.20 points. The duo was ranked second going into today’s class, with the second and third place honors from the model and the under saddle, respectively.
“Hi Lite has been really good, he was great in the model and the under saddle,” Schaefer, of Westminster, MD, elaborated. “He is really fun, he is never going to be the one to disappoint you, and he always comes through for you. He is so sweet on the ground and in the ring.”
Schaefer has been showing Hi Lite for about two years, and loves the relationship she has built with her veteran mount. “We don’t really practice too much, he knows his job at this point. He is mostly a ring pony, although he does like his walks in the backfield. We have been working on keeping him straight because he likes to go left. It helped a lot in the over fences.”
Schaefer continued, “I thought the course was really easy to ride today, and I loved how long it was. It really allowed for me to take my time, stretch it out and make it look pretty. I love riding in the ring here, it is so big and is really fun to show in. There is so much about Pony Finals that I could talk about, but the ring is my favorite.”
The second place finish of today’s Small Pony Hunter Over Fences phase was also the division’s reserve champion. Lili Hymowitz and Rafael, owned by David Gochman of New York, NY, received scores of 87, 87.75, and 86 to take home the red ribbon, as well as the Overall Small Pony Hunter Reserve Champion title. The third place finisher overall was Rico Suave, owned by Suave Pony LLC of Greenwich, CT, who was ridden by Isabella Russekoff. The pair earned scores of 81.50, 87.5 and 85.30 for their Over Fences round.
“Rafael was perfect out there today,” Hymowitz explained. “Last year I went in on top, too, but it didn’t go nearly as well as today. I was so happy to have the chance to redo the course and do our best. This is our last show together, and I had a lot of fun out there.”
Hymowitz added, “I think last year I wasn’t as good, so I went in there today knowing that I wasn’t going to make the same mistake, or any new ones—I was able to redeem myself. I thought the course was designed really well, it allowed you to be consistent and ride smoothly. It is all about riding as well as you can out there, and in the end it is all about having fun.”
Earlier in the day, the Large Pony Hunter Model and Under Saddle were the spotlight event in the Walnut Ring. It was Isabel Coleman and Footnote, owned by Sandy Creek Stable LLC of Kiln, MS, who were awarded the first place award for their beautiful movement and form in the under saddle phase of the competition. Reesa Hylton of Purchase, NY, aboard Love & Logic rode to the second place ribbon, while Emma Kurtz and Mapleside Denzel, owned by Nancy Baginski of Wildwood, MO, scored the third.
Meredith Darst and For The Laughter, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, VA, earned the top call in the model. The pair earned the Overall Large Pony Hunter Championship with Darst last year, and goes into the over fences tomorrow with an overall score of 508.35 points, and as the leader. In 2009 and 2010, For The Laughter earned the Overall Pony Hunter Grand Championship with Victoria Colvin. Darst was awarded the Overall Pony Hunter Grand Championship with Enchanted Forest, also owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, during last year’s competition, and looks forward to what the over fences phase brings for her aboard For the Laughter.
The second place prize in the Large Pony Hunter Model was presented to Carly Coles of Wellington, FL, and Stardom. It was Ali Tritschler and Dreamland, owned by Linda Evans of South Hadley, MA, who were awarded the third place ribbon.
The 2012 US Pony Finals and US National Pony Hunter Championships presented by Sallee Horse Vans will continue tomorrow with the Large Pony Hunter Over Fences, where the 2012 Overall Large Pony Hunter Champion, as well as the 2012 Overall Grand Pony Hunter Champion will be named. Tomorrow will also host the 2012 US Pony Finals Award Ceremony at 3:30 pm in the Alltech Arena, and will be followed by the much-anticipated Pony Auction. On Sunday, riders will have the opportunity to compete in the Equisport Insurance/US Pony Medal Finals beginning at 7am in the Alltech Arena.
For more information about the 2012 US Pony Finals and National Pony Hunter Championships, please visit www.USEF.org.