|Fourth Year is A Charm – Kyla Sullivan Earns Second Tricolor in Two Days at U.S. Pony Finals|
|Written by Caroline Nickolaus|
|Saturday, 13 August 2016 10:18|
The Medium Green Pony Hunters boasted a grand total of 67 entries on the fourth day at the U.S. Pony Finals, and it was Kyla Sullivan aboard Back Country Farm’s Not So Secret that reigned supreme. Sullivan was also reserve champion on Thursday in the Small Pony Hunters with A Dream Come True, owned by DK-USA Sporthorse LLC.
Sullivan is 12 years old and trains with Jill and Sydney Shulman at the Greenwich, Connecticut-based Back Country Farm. Although this is Sullivan’s fourth time at the prestigious U.S. Pony Finals, this year proved to be extra successful. Being able to block everything out and concentrate on putting in a solid round is just one of many of Sullivan’s strengths.
“I just try to focus on what I’m doing and not what everyone else is doing,” she said. “It helps a lot.”
“Oliver,” as Sullivan calls her pony back in the barn, was described as “very easy going and very smooth and he’s a lot of fun to ride.” She added, “He landed all of his leads which is really good for him and he went very smoothly and nicely.”
While Jill Shulman has owned Oliver for quite a while, Sullivan’s partnership with the liver chestnut gelding only began about six months ago. Waiting at the Walnut Arena in-gate, Jill Shulman’s instructions for Sullivan were clear but simple.
“We wanted it to all match we wanted it to be smooth, for a green pony it can be dramatic and have some brilliant moments. We just wanted to be pretty solid all the way around,” Shulman stated.
Sullivan followed the directions she was told and it paid off – the pair earned the blue ribbon over-fences. In the model phase, Not So Secret was given seventh place by the judges out of a large field of entries. Combined, the pair earned 985.380 points across the division.
“He is very easy, really one of the easiest green ponies we’ve ever brought to the ring. I think it’s because he had some real little kids ride him in the short stirrup,” Shulman noted. “He’s very tried and true.”
The talented team will also try their hands in the Pony Medal on Sunday, the final day of U.S. Pony Finals, before traveling to CHJA Finals and then indoors in the fall. Sullivan is also planning to show a Large Green pony, Tiger Lily, this week at U.S. Pony Finals.
Claiming the overall reserve championship in the Medium Green Ponies were Laura Owens’ Editor’s Note, with Augusta Iwasaki in the irons.
The long journey from the West Coast to the bluegrass state was all worth it for the Calabasas, California native. Iwasaki is a 12-year-old rider who trains with her mother, Liz Reilly, and John French at Makoto Farms.
Iwasaki guided the 6-year-old gelding around the course to a sixth place finish over-fences. Rounding out the top three spots were Alexa Aureliano and Taylor Howard’s Westwood Oliver Twist with 956.330 points.
Maddie Schaefer Captures Overall Large Green Pony Championship with Minted
Maddie Schaefer is no stranger to the horse show scene, especially when it comes to the U.S. Pony Finals. Not only is her mother, Stacey Schaefer, a top trainer, but her older sister, Samantha, also shows and helps Maddie out whenever she can.
Schaefer, of Westminster, Maryland, took the win aboard her own Minted in the Overall Large Green Pony Hunter division after collecting a total of 1001.51 points. This year was her ninth year competing at U.S. Pony Finals.
The 15-year-old trains with her mother and sister at their Shadow Ridge Farm, and the team imported “Robbie” from Robert Baider about a year and a half ago.
Schaefer said, “He’s a good boy. He’s a solid citizen. He’s always been wanting to help us out and win. He’s always been generally a very good boy.”
She attributes some of Robbie’s success comes from his “willing to please” and laid-back attitude.
“I love his attitude. He never really has an opinion and it’s great because when they have too much opinion sometimes it makes them a winner and sometimes it makes them a loser. It makes him a winner, his attitude,” she explained. “He’s always wanting to help you out. He’s never like, ‘You can do this one on your own.’ He’s always like, ‘Alright! Come on!’”
Schaefer agreed that the Bobby Murphy-designed course was challenging but at the same time it was appropriate for green ponies. The pair placed second over-fences. In the model, judges gave them eleventh place out of a very large section.
“It was inviting for green ponies. I did not like the short approach we had to do inside, but I guess it makes sense, they don’t want everyone taking five minutes on their entrance. They always cut off the far end and I love the brush jumps when we have the option.”
Schaefer does not just ride ponies, however. She also has two equitation mounts – one that was recently imported and one named In the Know, who her sister also rides in hunter derbies. The young rider also rides Michael Hughes’ horse, Red Hot, in the High Children’s Jumper division.
Patricia Lafoe’s Baby Blue and Ella Reinauer took reserve championship honors after accumulating 999.700 points overall. Ericka Koscinski claimed third place overall with North Shore Equestrian Center’s Honorable. Together, they garnered 996.450 points overall.
Competition will resume tomorrow at 7 a.m. in the Walnut Arena beginning with the over-fences for the Regular Medium Pony division. More than 150 pony and rider combinations are set to compete on the second to last day of the U.S. Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm.
Victory for Zone 5/6 in Pony Jumper Team Championship
The pony jumpers continued on Friday during the 2016 U.S. Pony Finals, and it was the combined team of Zones 5 and 6 that rose to the challenge to capture the team gold in the Phase II Team Championship competition.
Anna Spitzer with Silver Charm, Isaiah Wiseman and Midnight Heart, Natalie Hinz and Rumor Has It, and Maya Lovdal with Miracles Happen composed the combined team that bested the field in the two-round, Nations Cup-style jumper class.
“We didn’t really know each other before today,” Wiseman explained. “But I’ve my pony for three years, and this is my third year doing the pony jumpers on him. At home he’s so calm, but when he gets to the show he knows his job.”
“We’re all new to each other, so no matching shirts,” Lovdal continued, laughing. “But we all worked well together.”
Up against eight other teams comprised of the nation’s best pony jumpers, the Zone Six/Seven team rode both rounds impressively, finishing on a total of 44 faults for the victory. At her Pony Finals debut, Spitzer and Silver Charm delivered one of only three double clear rounds of the day, helping to boost her team into the lead
The challenging track posed problems for many of the horse-and-rider combinations, with a number of riders pulling rails through a triple combination that was followed by an oxer on a bending line.
“The course was set up really well,” Lovdal said. “There were a couple of tricky fences, like the combinations and the water. My pony is only a medium, so the only thing we really have trouble with are the oxers because he’s so little and he has to stretch over them. He knows his job, though.”
“It’s my first time at Pony Finals, so I was super nervous the first day,” Spitzer said. “But Silver Charm loves the arena. He’s been so good and so willing, which has made this experience really fun. I’m excited, and I think we’re all really happy.”
Although the gold medal was decided by the first and second round scores, a tie meant the silver and bronze medals were still in contention, requiring each team to send one rider to compete in a jump-off round to decide the order.
Each team had faults in the jump-off, but the best round was delivered by the combined teams of Zones 4 and 9, so it was decided that Isabella Durnell, Rachel Long, Kayla Long and Nadia Rosenbaum would be coming home with the silver medal on 72 faults. The Zone 1 team, which consisted of Riley Kram, Sydney Berube, Elize Albertini and Bobby Bolger, finished in third on 84 faults.
The 2016 U.S. Pony Jumper Championship will wrap up tomorrow with Phase III – the individual final. Leading the standings tied with four faults are Rachel Long and Zumba, Bailey Doloff and Wishlea Star Dasher, Maya Lovdal and Miracles Happen, and Isabella Durnell and Carlton Diva.*