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Strong U.S. Showing at the 2019 FEI Driving World Championships for Ponies

by US Equestrian Communications Department/Classic Communications | Sep 29, 2019, 5:37 PM EST

Ászár-Kisbér, Hungary – It was a strong showing of pony power for the U.S. with Mary Phelps in the Pair Pony division and Leslie Berndl in the Single Pony division as they competed in the 2019 FEI Driving World Championships for Ponies, September 25-29, in Ászár-Kisbér, Hungary.

Mary Phelps (Krisztina Horváth/

In the Pair Pony division, Mary Phelps (Columbia, Ky.) with her team lovingly known as “The Flying Gangsters;” Al Capony, her nine-year-old American Shetland pony gelding; Bugsy Malony, her 12-year-old American Shetland pony gelding, along with Kimba, her 13-year-old American Shetland pony mare, progressed throughout the championships with style. Donning a red, white, and blue chapeau, Phelps and her team earned a 63.36 in the dressage phase. The team later marched up the leaderboard after a very quick and technical marathon phase, designed by German course designer Josef Middendorf, earning 113.09 penalty points.

“It’s so amazing, I can’t believe it”, said Phelps. “These little ponies (Al Capony, Bugsy Malony, and Kimba) are the smallest in the competition. I want to inspire people and help grow the sport, and we are doing it with classic American Shetland ponies!”

On the final day of competition, Phelps and her Gangsters proved they were a force, winning the pony pair cones phase. As the only team to produce a fault-free round, they acquired 1.55 time penalties. At the conclusion of the 2019 FEI Driving World Championships for Ponies, Phelps and her squad earned a top-12 finish with a final score of 178.00 penalty points.

Leslie Berndl and Sweetwater's Zorah Belle
(Krisztina Horváth/

“I’m so proud to have represented the Fjord breed in the highest level of sport,” said Berndl. “I think my pony proved what a heart of gold can do.  She truly is one of the best ponies in the world.”

Leslie Berndl (Lexington, Ky.) with Sweetwater’s Zorah Belle, Teressa Kandianis’s 15-year-old Norwegian Fjord Horse mare, represented the U.S. in the Single Pony division. Berndl and “Zoobie’s” beautifully coordinated performance earned a 67.25 in the dressage phase to kick off the competition. Leading off as the trail blazers for both the marathon and cones phases for the U.S. contingent, the duo earned 112.62 penalty points and 13.35 penalty points, respectively. The dynamic duos final score of 193.22 penalty points completed their journey at the FEI World Driving Championships for Ponies.

Full results here.

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