Halifax, MA – August 20, 2013 – It was a bittersweet victory for pony ring veterans Ali Tritschler and Dreamland, as they claimed their final win in the $5,000 NEHJA Pony Hunter Classic Final today at the Fieldstone Show Park. Tritschler piloted Dreamland to the first place finish with two impressive rounds over fences. They nabbed the championship with the high scoring total of 169 points. Alexandra Pielet rode to the second and third place finishes with Qualen’s Commence the Magic and Secret Love, respectively.
Today’s feature event, the $5,000 NEHJA Pony Hunter Classic Final, was a crowd favorite at the Fieldstone Summer Showcase II. Sixteen ponies and their young riders vied for the classic win, but it was ultimately Dreamland with Tritschler in the irons that took home the top prize.
American course designer Eric Hasbrouck created a first round course meant to challenge both pony and rider while still allowing them to show off their finesse on the all-grass derby field. The course started over an inviting vertical away from the in-gate. From there, ponies and riders made a right turn to an oxer and then a left turn over a birch vertical on the outside. They then took the bending line to the outside oxer and made a sweeping left turn through the vertical-oxer combination. With a right turn they took a vertical on the far end of the arena, and finished over the final oxer.
Riding to an impressive score of 81 in the first round was Ellie Ferrigno aboard her own medium pony Clovermeade Dream On, but Tritschler was close on her heels as she navigated Linda Evans’ Dreamland to the high score of 84 points. Annabel Revers and Romeo, owned by Beechwood, rode to a first round score of 80.5, while Abigail Brayman and Jumanji, owned by Skyler Fields, posted an 80. With it being Tritschler’s last Fieldstone Pony Classic, she knew she would have to lay down an equally impressive second round, if not better, to outride her competitors for the win.
“It was a really good classic course, it is nice in its own way. It works out really well for my pony, and we are so used to competing in handy courses that the second round of a classic doesn’t get my nerves on edge at all,” Tritschler smiled. “I used to have really bad nerves, but I have grown out of that phase. I like being able to help out some of the other riders. I used to be one of them, and sometimes they listen.”
The top 12 ponies returned to the field for the second round of the classic. Riders were to begin over a single vertical going away from the in-gate on the diagonal, and make a right rollback over another vertical bending to a beige oxer. They then made a left turn over the birch vertical and took the outside oxer. They then were presented with the opportunity to open their pace and take on the vertical-oxer line, and make a right rollback over a vertical and proceed to another vertical set parallel to the in-gate. One final left rollback brought them to the Fieldstone oxer where they completed the course and sealed their spot in the ranks.
The pressure was on for Brayman as she navigated Jumanji around the second course. Although they had a speedy pace, a tight distance cost them the win, earning them the score of 81 points. As the last of the large ponies to show in the second round, Tritschler relied on her consistency and longtime relationship with Dreamland to bring them triumph. Her advantageous guidance in the saddle, as well as her confidence in her mount’s ability to perform, earned then the second round score of 86 points.
“He was so quiet today, but then he walked out there and was so excited. I had a couple of rubs in the first round, but he is so confident. I could go in with my eyes closed, keep a deep breath and really let him flow,” Tritschler explained. “The second round was where we all really improved. I knew I had to take it easy out there; it wasn’t a handy so I didn’t have to make any tight turns, but he is so beautiful on the field and over fences. He makes the course look easy, and it flows so nicely. I just wanted to ride well and do a good job for my last Fieldstone Pony Classic.”
Tritschler continued, “He is so brave. He tries so hard, and he is always there. Other people may be nervous of their horse spooking, but I don’t have to worry about that with him. He is really brave, and he will never stop or spook at anything. It gives me the opportunity to make the turns and take inside options to impress the panel.”
Alexandra Pielet and Elizabeth Foster’s Qualen’s Commence the Magic did not hesitate to try to surpass Tritschler’s score. Although it was their first time showing at Fieldstone, the pair rode to the impressive score of 85 points, eventually earning the second place as Tritschler’s 86-point score stood steadfast. Pielet also rode Secret Love, owned by Back Country, to the third place finish with a score of 162 points from their 78 and 84 point two-round total.
“All of the ponies I ride are really fun,” Pielet said. “It was only my second time riding Magic today, and he was so much fun out there. He likes a flowing ride. If I loosen the rein and give him a little bit of le,g he goes and jumps great.”
Pielet continued, “Secret Love is so sweet, he is a lot of fun to play with in the barn, but he is also really shy. I am getting to know him. My trainer let me ride him today; it was my first time showing him. Both of my ponies were great, and the courses worked perfectly, they are exactly how my ponies like to ride.”
In the end, Brayman and Jumanji took home the fourth place award, while Ferrigno picked up the fifth and sixth place awards with Clovermeade Dream On and Clovermeade Bunny Side Up, respectively.
“It was bittersweet, but I am really happy for the other riders who have the opportunity to move up,” Tritschler concluded. “I competed in the first pony derby they ever had here, and I won it. I have done them ever since. I want the other kids to have their chance to shine, and it is time for me to move on. It is really cool to come to Fieldstone, so many people a few years back didn’t even know about it, but it only keeps getting bigger-this is Dreamland’s favorite ring.”
The Fieldstone Summer Showcase II will continue tomorrow with the conclusion of the Professional Hunter divisions. The highlight of the day will be the $7,500 South Shore Equine Clinic Welcome Stake where riders will begin gearing up for the quickly approaching $25,000 Antares Grand Prix. For more information on Stadium Jumping and the Summer Showcase II Horse Show, please visit www.showfieldstone.com. You can also follow the Fieldstone Horse Shows on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fieldstone.equestrian.