Breaking News
Latest COVID-19 Outbreak Information and Resources
As a part of our efforts to protect the health of our employees, US Equestrian is working under a flexible work plan for our staff. As we transition to this modified format, there may be interruptions to service. We will do our best to have all services fully functioning as quickly as possible. Customer Care can be reached by emailing [email protected], online chat or leave a voicemail by calling (859) 258-2472. Thank you in advance for your understanding and patience.
  • Share:

Hays Claims Gold in Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Final to Complete 2017 USEF Pony Finals Presented by Collecting Gaits Farm

by Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications Department | Aug 13, 2017, 9:11 PM EST

Lexington, Ky. – A week of competition at the 2017 USEF Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm came to a close Sunday with the most coveted award of the championship. The Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Final took place in the Alltech Arena with 162 riders vying for top honors in front of judges Rachel Kennedy and James Toon. Following excellent performances throughout the day, Ada Catherine Hays earned the Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Final title. 

Ada Catherine Hays, Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Final Gold Medalist (Photo by: Shawn McMillen Photography)

In round one, the riders were tested over an inviting but solid course designed by Jasen Shelley. Twenty riders were called back for round two over a more difficult track to test their equitation skills. Four riders from the Small section, nine from the Medium section, and seven from the Large section competed in round two, and the judges did not require any further testing to pin the class.

Twelve-year-old Hays (Hillsborough, N.C.) was the last rider to enter the ring for round two and she rose to the challenge, displaying her lovely equitation while riding Center Field, trainer Robin Greenwood’s 2003 Welsh/Thoroughbred gelding, to receive the gold medal. View her round here. Her accomplishment was more impressive due to the fact that Pony Finals was her first major competition. Center Field teamed up with Lucy Deslauriers to win the gold medal in 2012.

“I’m really, really excited - a little overwhelmed but it is a good kind of overwhelmed,” Hays said of her win.

da Catherine Hays and Center Field (Photo by: Shawn McMillen Photography)

Hays kept a steady, forward canter rhythm that impressed the judges throughout the two rounds. She said, “[The trips] felt really good; I don’t think I have ever ridden this well. Robin always tells me about a cantering course, and that [course] really demonstrated a cantering course. The pace doesn’t really change, it is not a gallop or a trot-lope; it just flows nicely.”

Hays has been fox hunting from a young age and she thought the experience in the hunt field helped her earn the win by giving her a solid education on riding various paces and jumping from various distances. “Moving up to any distances or holding to make sure they are the right ones [is important], because in the hunt field, you don’t really know what is going to happen, and it just goes back and forth between fast and halted.”


Thirteen-year-old Hannah Hoch (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) received the silver medal after great performances in the two rounds riding Havanna, her own 2003 Welsh Pony-cross mare. The bronze medal went to 16-year-old Jordan Toering (Waterford, Va.) for her smooth trips aboard Splendid, Agnes Hahn’s 2007 Welsh Pony gelding.

Hannah Hoch and Splendid, Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Final silver medalist (Photo by: Shawn McMillen Photography)

The following riders rounded out the top 10 placings:

Fourth – Grace Debney (Hampden, Mass.)

Fifth – Kat Fuqua (Atlanta, Ga.)

Sixth – Sofia Roberts (Wilmington, Ohio)

Seventh – Trinity Beitler (Coconut Creek, Fla.)

Eighth – Anna Tootle (Alpharetta, Ga.)

Ninth – Alexandra Lynn Willner (Boca Raton, Fla.)

10th – Emma Hechtman (Tampa, Fla.)

Find out more information about the 2017 USEF Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm at

Follow us on Facebook (@USequestrian, @USEFNetwork, and @USEFPonyFinals), Instagram, and Twitter (@USequestrian and @USEFNetwork) for all the latest from the ring and behind the scenes.