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Pony Riders Cap Unforgettable Week at 2017 USEF Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm

by Dana Rossmeier, US Equestrian Communications Department | Aug 14, 2017, 5:00 PM EST

Lexington, Ky. – More than 600 ponies and their young riders packed into the Kentucky Horse Park for the 2017 USEF Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm from August 8-13. For these boys and bow-wearing girls, winning at Pony Finals is one of their first equestrian dreams. No matter the result, the joy of ponies spread with high-fives, praise, hugs, and smiles. Over six days, six champions were determined through hunter classes in Small, Medium, and Large Regular Pony Hunter and Green Pony Hunter sections. In addition, riders vied for team and individual medals in the USEF Pony Jumper National Championship and individual medals in the Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Final. Over the course of the competition, special awards also were given to riders, grooms, parents, trainers, ponies and their owners.

Relive memorable moments from the 2017 USEF Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm through photo galleries, rider video clips, and much more on Facebook (@USequestrian, @USEFNetwork, and @USEFPonyFinals), Instagram, and Twitter (@USequestrian and @USEFNetwork) and watch on-demand coverage of the entire competition on the USEF Network.

The following are division winners as well as division award recipients and special award recipients:

Small Green Hunter Pony Championship

Champion: Evelyn Walker (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) and Captain Crunch (988.40), Walker’s 2009 Welsh Pony gelding.

Reserve Champion: Augusta Iwasaki (Calabasas, Calif.) and Thinking Out Loud (981.10), Bibby Hill’s five-year-old Welsh Pony gelding.

Small Green Best Presented Model Pony: Ledinjadon Graffiti, Hannah Haines’ 11-year-old Welsh Pony gelding, presented by Haines (Fayetteville, Ga.).

Small Green Best Turned Out Pony: Jane Russell, Bryden LLC and Dean Rheinheimer’s nine-year-old Welsh Pony mare, ridden by Vivian Golden (Reading, Pa.) with groom Juan Garcia.


Medium Green Hunter Pony Championship presented by Sallee Horse Vans

Champion: Madeline Jordan (Tallahassee, Fla.) and Shamrock (1015.01), Jordan’s 10-year-old Welsh Pony-cross gelding.

Reserve Champion: Alexa Lignelli (New York, N.Y.) and iApprove (1002.30), Lignelli’s eight-year-old Weser-EMS Pony gelding.

Medium Green Best Presented Model Pony: Vermont Golden Graham, Piper Klemm’s eight-year-old Welsh Pony-cross gelding, presented by Isabella Griffin (Hampton Cove, Ala.).

Medium Green Best Turned Out Pony: Paris Charm, Mackenzie Fitch’s nine-year-old Welsh Pony mare, ridden by Fitch (Collegeville, Pa.) with groom Diego Ambrocio.


Large Green Hunter Pony Championship

Champion: Libbie Gordon (Statesville, N.C.) and Small Wonder (1028.05), Elsa Batalden’s eight-year-old Warmblood gelding. Small Wonder was the section champion as well as the Overall Grand Champion Green Hunter Pony.

Reserve Champion: Iwasaki and Butterscotch (1025.11), Quartet Farm LLC’s 2005 gelding. Butterscotch was also the Overall Reserve Champion Green Hunter Pony.

Large Green Best Presented Model Pony: Coleridge, Dale Crittenberger’s six-year-old Welsh/Thoroughbred gelding, ridden by Jordan Toering (Waterford, Va.).

Large Green Best Turned Out Pony: Cosette, Helen Lohr’s six-year-old Welsh Pony-cross mare, ridden by Sarah Semko (Great Falls, Va.) with grooms Elizabeth Gregg and Jennifer Semko.


Small Regular Hunter Pony Championship

Champion: Ashley Lamers (Caledonia, Wis.) and In A Dream (1007.88), Lindsey Ayres’ 10-year-old Welsh Pony mare.

Reserve Champion: Georgia Schmidt (Lutherville, Md.) and Millpond Patchwork (994.90), CMJ Sporthorse, LLC’s 17-year-old Welsh Pony-cross mare.

Small Regular Best Presented Model Pony: Rico Suave, Ponies & Palms Show Stables LLC’s 17-year-old Welsh Pony gelding, ridden by Ella Bikoff (Whitestone, N.Y.).

Small Regular Best Turned Out Pony: Jennifer Grey, Sara Gentry’s 10-year-old Welsh Pony mare, ridden by Matthew Burtard (Ixonia, Wisc.) with groom Annie Burningham.


Large Regular Hunter Pony Championship presented by Triple Crown Feed

Champion: Gordon and Childs Play Hot Topic (1016.74), Mia Albelo’s 11-year-old Half-Welsh Pony mare. Childs Play Hot Topic was also the Overall Reserve Grand Champion Pony Hunter.

Reserve Champion: Baylee McKeever (Brewster, N.Y.) and Tantallon Co-Captain (1007.41), Cecilia D’Amore’s 14-year-old Half-Welsh Pony gelding.

Large Regular Best Presented Model Pony: Caleche, Laura Barrett-Gurtis’ 11-year-old Oldenburg/Pony mare, presented by Elle Moreno (Wylie, Texas).

Large Regular Best Turned Out Pony: Valentino, Ashley Aycox’s 10-year-old German Riding Pony gelding, ridden by Chandler Wilks (Alpharetta, Ga.) with groom Ramon Ruiz.


Medium Regular Hunter Pony Championship presented by Sallee Horse Vans

Champion: Iwasaki and News Flash (1025.63), Tessa Downey’s 12-year-old Welsh Pony gelding. News Flash was also the Overall Grand Champion Pony Hunter. Trainers Elizabeth Reilly (Calabasas, Calif.) and Peter Pletcher (Magnolia, Texas) received the Emerson Burr Perpetual Trophy as the trainers of the Overall Grand Champion Hunter Pony.

Reserve Champion: Raina Swani (New York, N.Y.) and Newhaven’s Magnum (1008.73), Shadowfax Equestrian LLC’s 12-year-old Welsh Pony-cross gelding.

Medium Regular Best Presented Model Pony: True Colors, Joseph White’s nine-year-old Mecklenberg gelding, ridden by Isabella White (Boca Raton, Fla.).

Medium Regular Best Turned Out Pony: Sunrise, Jessie Spade’s 11-year-old German Riding Pony gelding, ridden by Tyler Ferris (Columbus, Ohio) with groom Laura Brehf.


USEF National Pony Jumper Championship

Team Gold: Zone 10 consisting of Sydney Flashman (Pasadena, Calif.) and her 11-year-old Belgian Sport Pony mare Karamel; Avery Kim (Pasadena, Calif.) and her 11-year-old German Riding Pony gelding Joel; Caroline Mawhinney (Woodside, Calif.) and Stal Minion’s 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare Silver Dream; and Tabitha Okitsu (South Pasadena, Calif.) and her 11-year-old Connemara/Arabian gelding Spoot de la Jourlais.

Team Silver: Zones 1 and 3 consisting of Kiley Ahn (Johnston, R.I.) and her 17-year-old Thoroughbred/Welsh gelding Rootbeer Float; Isabella Cheers (Shallotte, N.C.) and her 14-year-old Welsh Pony-cross mare Park Avenue; Katharine Dade (Gilmanton Iron Works, N.H.) and her six-year-old Welsh Pony-cross mare National Treasure; and Lydia Philbrick (Henniker, N. H.) and her 2005 Selle Français/Welsh gelding Raisin a Ruckus.

Individual Gold: Okitsu and Spoot De La Jourlais

Individual Silver: Kim and Joel

Individual Bronze: Isabella Durnell (Suwanee, Ga.) and Carlton Diva, Durnell’s 13-year-old Connemara mare.

US Pony Jumper Style Award: Durnell, as the competitor that the judges believed displayed the best jumping style of riding throughout the week.


Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Final

Gold: Ada Catherine Hays (Hillsborough, N.C.) and Center Field, Robin Greenwood’s 14-year-old Welsh/Thoroughbred gelding.

Silver: Hannah Hoch (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) and Havanna, Hoch’s 14-year-old Welsh Pony-cross mare.

Bronze: Toering and Splendid, Agnes Hahn’s 10-year-old Welsh Pony gelding.


Buttons N’ Bows Sportsmanship Trophy

The Buttons N’ Bows Sportsmanship Trophy is awarded to the junior rider who best personifies the high standards and virtues of integrity, sportsmanship, honor, courage, good temper, and unselfishness. Donated by Mr. R. Bates Newton of Versailles, Ky., in memory of Maxine Best, teacher, judge and long-time friend of Pony Finals.

Winner: Emma Vandenhouten (Plantation, Fla.)


The Outstanding Parent Award

In memory of Gail Cardalico, this trophy is awarded to the individual who has shown the most involvement and support as a parent of a Pony Finals competitor.

Winner: Ali Sweetnam (Wellington, Fla.)


The Emerson Burr Horsemanship Grant

The Emerson Burr Horsemanship Grant winners receive a $500 grant from the US Equestrian Federation. The following are the winners from the four age groups:

Ages 8 & Under: Vivian Golden

Ages 9-11: Linen Owens (Marion, N.C.)

Ages 12-14: Genevieve Munson (Rogers, Ark.)

Ages 15-17: Megan All (Sorrento, Fla.)


Chandler Wilks and Valentino (Shawn McMillen Photography)

The Betsy Fishback Memorial Trophy

The Betsy Fishback Memorial Trophy is awarded to the best turned out pony in the hunter sections. Dr. William Fishback and Kelly Goguen donated the trophy in memory of Betsy Fishback, a long-time volunteer and supporter of Pony Finals.

Winner: Valentino ridden by Wilks with groom Ruiz


Edna Lytle Perpetual Trophy

US Equestrian donated the Edna Lytle Perpetual Trophy in honor of Edna Lytle and awards it to the volunteer of the year for the USEF Pony Finals.

Winner: Sissie Anderton (Franklin, Tenn.)


The Mindy Darst Perpetual Trophy

Awarded to the child that all judges decide is most likely to become a top professional rider, this award is based on the fitness and athletic ability of the rider, the compassion and communication between the rider and the pony, the understanding of track and pace, and the ability to create a beautiful jump.

Winner: Claire Campbell (Cochranville, Pa.)


Betsy Fishback Sportsmanship Ribbon Winners

Matthew Burtard

Amy Cohen (Concord, N.H.)

Kylie Cohen (West Bloomfield, Mich.)

Katharine Dade

Robert Elwell (West Cape May, N.J.)

Josie Evans (Covington, Ga.)

Lilianna Franzese (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

Emma Gubin (Memphis, Tenn.)

Amira Kettaneh (Hollis, N.H.)

Olivia Markman (Chicago, Ill.)

Parker Mechling (Davidson, N.C.)

Lydia Philbrick

Bailey Robinson (Bowie, Texas)

Gabrielle Roderick (Spring Hills, Kan.)

Kayla Rossetti (Crawfordville, Fla.)

Ashley Schneider (Austin, Texas)

Lindsey Stenmark (Lee, N.H.)

Helena Timpany (Monroe, Conn.)

Katherine Walters (Eads, Tenn.)