Katherine Pontone will always remember her last year as a junior as a “wicked” experience with the best pony jumper she could have ever imagined. Katherine, 18, and her pony Wicked won the North American League’s (NAL) 2012 Pony Jumper Division Championship at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg in October. Katherine acquired Wicked in the summer of 2011 and describes the dazzling black and white pony – who is blind in one eye – as a forgotten pony.
“When I decided that I wanted to compete in the pony jumper division I was looking for a pony who could be successful jumping 3’6. Wicked was rarely ridden and had not been shown in over a year. Wicked didn’t even have an active USEF number then. In spite of her obesity and lack of training, I got a glimpse of her true heart. She loved to jump and she was so willing to please me. I knew I was taking a big risk when I bought Wicked. She needed to loose a lot of weight, she needed a lot of training and she had very little show experience; but I knew she had what it takes to be a winner. Everyone doubted her abilities but I never did,” Katherine said.
Even though Wicked was far from ready for showing, the pair worked together as Katherine entered her senior year of high school to get prepared for competition. After gaining some show experience, Katherine brought Wicked to the pony jumpers and joined the NAL’s Pony Jumper Division two months into the 2012 season.
When did you start riding?
I started riding when I was six-years-old. I just started showing competitively this year, including competing in the NAL. I showed in cross rails when I was 12 then I took a couple of years off and learned how to ride and then started showing again this year.
What is your favorite thing to do when you ride?
My favorite thing is trail riding and racing around with my Mom, who just started riding.
Who are the biggest influences on your life?
My mom is my biggest influence. She supports me in every way. Also my trainer – Kali Jerman. She helps me perfect my technique. She won on her horse as a junior in the NAL Children’s Jumper division. I have been with Kali for seven months now. She is based in Colts Neck, New Jersey.
What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
I would say the transformation of Wicked from being an overweight, forgotten pony in a field to an NAL Champion. My mom loved her from the start. She said, “Oh she’s pretty so we’ll get this one.” Wicked is a 13-year-old mutt that had been to three show grounds in her life; but she really didn’t have any kind of experience or show record. She is also blind in her right eye. She’s been blind for a couple of years now; but it doesn’t bother her and you can’t tell by her performance.
What are your goals in life and as a rider?
My lifetime goal is to become the best person I can be through horses and as a rider.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I don’t have much free time. I spend all my free time riding or caring for the horses. I am a working student at Bella Terra Farm.