Lexington, KY – August 9, 2013 –The rain started to pour as the day wound down at the 2013 United States Equestrian Federation Pony Finals, but it did not put a damper on the kids’ spirit as they showcased their skills. The Large Pony Hunters took center stage in the Walnut Ring this morning as they completed their Model and Under Saddle phases where Taylor St Jacques and Enjoy The Laughter took home both blue ribbons. The Small Pony Hunter Over Fences was next, and at the end of the day Hana Bieling and Canterbrook Prince Charming earned the Small Pony Hunter Championship with their consistency throughout the division. Finally in the Alltech Arena, Cooper Dean captured the USEF National Pony Jumper Individual Championship aboard American Hero.
Hana Bieling and Canterbrook Prince Charming
This marked Bieling’s fifth year competing at Pony Finals and it proved to be the best. She and Canterbrook Prince Charming took home the Small Pony Hunter Championship. The duo was ranked third going into today’s over fences phase, and with scores of 87.15, 84.5, and 84.25 they scored the second place award. With an overall total of 1019.3, Bieling and Canterbrook Prince Charming jumped to the top of the leader board and earned the coveted title.
Bieling began riding the 6-year-old Welsh Cross gelding in January during the Winter Equestrian Festival. “When I started riding Canterbrook Prince Charming, he was really different,” the 12-year-old Naples, FL, native said. “His canter was a little strung out and he didn’t have all his steering and everything, but by the end of WEF, he was really good.”
The talented pony was purchased by Kathryn McCarthy, who began showing him in the Children’s Pony Hunters, but gave Bieling the ride for her last year in the Small Pony Hunters. “This was his first year at Pony Finals,” Bieling noted. “Kathryn has been showing him the rest of the year and has done a really great job with him. He’s pretty straightforward. You just start and he keeps going! It’s just so good to end things well and have a good day.”
The winner of today’s Small Pony Hunter Over Fences phase was also the division’s reserve champion. Daisy Farish and Armani, owned by Madeline Schaefer of Westminster, MD, received scores of 86.15, 87 and 84.55 to take home the blue ribbon prize as well as the Small Pony Hunter Reserve Champion title. The third place finisher during the Over Fences was Kyla Sullivan and Clovercroft Love Bunny, owned by Rabbit Hill Farm of Newtown, CT. The pair earned scores of 86.15, 84 and 83 for their beautiful round early in the day.
Daisy Farish and Armani
Earlier in the day, the Large Pony Hunter Model and Under Saddle were the main highlights in the Walnut Ring. Taylor St Jacques and Enjoy The Laughter, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, VA, earned the top call in both phases to take home the winning prize. This is the 14-year-old’s second year at Pony Finals, and today’s two blue ribbons will give her the lead going into tomorrow’s over fences phase with a total of 525 points.
“Enjoy The Laughter is still really green, but he’s a lot of fun,” commented St Jacques. “I haven’t ridden him that long, but we just connected the first time. I started showing him in the end of June. He just needs support and to know that everything’s all right.”
St Jacques added, “He’s normally very good over fences. He’ll look a little, but if I’m there for support he knows that everything’s okay. Tomorrow, I’m just going to forget about today and just ride like I know I can.”
Taylor St Jacques and Enjoy The Laughter
The second place prize in the Large Pony Hunter Model was presented to Emma Kurtz and Westside, owned by Scott Stewart of Wellington, FL, while Holland Nievergelt of Norfolk, VA, and Glynhafan Red Kestral received the third place honors. In the Large Pony Hunter Under Saddle, Kurtz and Westside once again claimed the red ribbon, while Aleece Jarman of Pace, FL, and Valentino took home the third place award during today’s competition.
Following the completion of today’s hunter events, the jumpers took center stage in the Alltech Arena for the 2013 USEF National Pony Jumper Individual Finals. At the end of the night Cooper Dean of Fayette, AL and his mount American Hero donned the Gold Medal and rode away with the title of Pony Jumper Individual Champions.
The medalists in the 2013 USEF Pony Jumper Individual Championships
The individual jumper riders competed in two phases of competition over the past two nights, and tonight the top individuals returned to vie for the medals and positions on the podium. After tonight’s opening round, four riders sat tied with four faults each, while Dean and Christina Rodriguez riding A Lotta Moxie, each led the pack with zero faults. The four-way tied riders Carly Williams and High Hopes of Lexington, VA Morgan Gravely and Dragon’s Lair Banner of High Springs, FL, Heather Vaxer and Cha Cha Cha of Delray Beach, FL and Camilla Siekmann and Mist of a Champion of Washington Crossing, PA all returned to jump-off for their shot at the Bronze Medal, while Dean and Rodriguez of Dade City, FL came back to vie for the silver and gold awards.
Williams bested the other four faulters in the jump-off, going clear in a time of 36.927 seconds and clinching the Bronze Medal. Then it was up to Dean and Rodriguez to face off for the gold. Rodriguez was the first to return, and she sped through the course until a disappointing second to last fence unseated her. Her qualification for the jump-off guaranteed her no less than second, but her fall left the Gold Medal easily up for grabs by Dean and American Hero. Dean was also a key member of the Zone 4 team that clinched the Gold
Cooper Dean and American Hero
Medal in the team competition last night.
“I thought we would be really good in the teams, but this is just a miracle,” smiled 14-year-old Dean following his victory.
Dean has worked extremely hard to make the Gold Medal a reality, making the win tonight that much more meaningful. “I live on a farm in Fayette, Alabama. I sort of live like a cowboy of the hunter jumper world. I take care of Hero and do a lot of things myself,” explained Dean.
His mother, Jill Dean, added, “He works for everything. He mucks stalls. He feeds horses. He rides horses. It’s part of what we have to do as a hunter/jumper family. It’s not all easy.”
But as Cooper Dean stood atop the podium, it was evident that it is definitely all worth it. “I’m just so happy right now. This is the best week of my life,” concluded Dean.
The 2013 USEF Pony Finals will continue tomorrow with the Large Pony Hunter Over Fences, naming the 2013 Large Pony Hunter Champion, as well as the 2013 Grand Pony Hunter Champion. On Sunday, riders will compete in the Equisport Insurance/USEF Pony Medal Finals.
For more information about the 2013 USEF Pony Finals, please visit www.usef.org.
For more information about the Kentucky Summer Series, please visit www.KentuckyHorseShows.com.