The 2014 US Pony Finals competition kicks off at the Kentucky Horse Park in just two days, and hundreds of ponies and young riders took advantage of the opportunity to prepare for the prestigious Pony Finals at the Kentucky Summer Classic. Among them were two Pony Finals veterans who were among Sunday's top finishers: Sofia Roberts and Alexandra Pielet.
Both Roberts and Pielet will be riders to watch in the Small Pony Hunters as they head into the week aboard Brownland's Mr. Mack and Secret Love, respectively.
The two ponies dominated Section A of this weekend's Small Pony Hunters, with Brownland's Mr. Mack earning the division championship and Secret Love picking up the reserve.
"He's perfect," said Roberts of Brownland's Mr. Mack. "He's really sweet. At home we work on finding the jumps and going straight."
That work at home with Lochmoor Stables and trainer Patty Rogers paid off tenfold for 10-year-old Roberts and Brownland's Mr. Mack, a pony that she's owned for two years. The duo finished in the top two of both of the over fences classes this afternoon, including besting a field of 30 competitive ponies to take the top call in Section A of the Small Pony Conformation Hunters.
Roberts, a Wilmington, OH, native, hopes that Sunday's performance proves indicative of what is to come in the week ahead during her third Pony Finals appearance.
"I love the competition, and I love how excited I get," smiled Roberts.
Pielet, a veteran of numerous Pony Finals, is also looking forward to the high level of competition that the event brings.
"I love that all of the top ponies are here competing against each other. It's really cool," Pielet, age 13, said.
Her mount in the Small Pony Hunters, Secret Love, is definitely one of those top competitors. Previously owned by David Gochman and ridden by Lindsey Greenhill and Sophie and Mimi Gochman, Secret Love was purchased by Jill Shulman of Back Country Farm following last year's Pony Finals. Sunday he showed why he is one to watch with Pielet in the irons, finishing with both a first and second over fences and ending the day with the Section A Small Pony Hunter reserve championship.
In Section B of the Small Pony Hunters, it was Christina Rogalny and her own Firefly who dominated the day, riding away with the victory in both of the division's over fences classes.