Lots of cute ponies have been on display at the 2020 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions. Lily of Chincoteague is an eye-catching 16-year-old Welsh Chincoteague Pony cross mare, and she has an interesting story to match her lovely pinto color.
Fifteen-year-old Paydan McLaughlin of Greenfield, Rhode Island, found an excellent partner in Lily of Chincoteague, known as Lil or Squish in the barn. Paydan has owned Lil for about four years, or “about four years and two weeks” to be exact, and Lil had an interesting history before she came to Paydan. She had her start through a program that partners untrained horses with inmates in a vocational program in the prison system.
“She ended up coming into the prison system supposedly unbroken and they trained her Western, trail, and she did some jumping and such,” said Paydan’s mom Tracey. “When she came available, she went up through the auction system.”
Family friends of the McLaughlins found Lil at the University of Connecticut’s horse auction and used her for low-level eventing and hunter shows for their children. As the children’s interests changed, the family was looking for a new home for Lil.
“We found our little gem because her original owners were friends of someone riding with us at the barn, but they were international skiers and their focus was changing and the amount of time that they had for her was limited,” said Tracey. “They wanted to rehome her with somebody that would dedicate time to her. Paydan did!”
The McLaughlins welcomed Lil into their family in 2016, and Paydan and Lil began developing a partnership. They have grown together and achieved respectable results. Paydan and Lil Paydan and Lil moved up from training level to competing at the children level in the 2019, then appearing in the USEF Children Dressage National Championship that year. This year they finished sixth overall in the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship. The pair aims to keep improving with goals for the near future. “We are hopefully going to do third level this fall if we can remain calm during our changes,” Paydan said.
Paydan has high praise for her pony. She is a fan of Lil’s size, conformation, and striking colors. Lil’s mindset makes her fun for Paydan to work with. “She can be a little grouchy, but, for the most part, she is a very happy horse. I love working with her,” explained Paydan. “When she really puts her mind to it, she figures stuff out so well and I love to feel when she really gets something.”
Lil seems to like Paydan too and is excited to see her in the barn. “As [Paydan] talks to her, she will nicker back,” Tracey said of Lil. “It doesn’t matter how far apart they are, as soon as [Paydan] starts talking, she will nicker.
The McLaughlins are thankful to have Lil as part of the family. “She has been such a treasure,” said Tracey. “She is so awesome.”