Lexington, KY – August 14, 2021 – After three days of fierce competition in the 2021 Pony Jumper National Championships, Alexis Bauman claimed the Gold Medal with her own Welsh pony, Mirlacle’s Happen. The Silver Medal was awarded to Michaela Munson on Bluebelle, while the Bronze Medal was presented to Audrey Turner who piloted Prince Oliver. The class was the culmination of the Pony Jumper National Championships that added yet another dimension to the variety of pony classes at this year’s USEF Pony Finals, presented by Honor Hill Farm.
The Individual Championship competition saw 14-horse and rider combinations return after three days of navigating courses designed by Jasen Shelly(Wellington, FL) in the Clairborne Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park. The qualified riders entered the ring in reverse order, based on the number of faults that they had accumulated during their other rounds, the riders with the most penalties starting first. After seeing the first five athletes, the riders that were returning on eight (8) faults, all ended up on a score of 12-faults, requiring a jump-off to take place if no better scores were produced.
After a brief rain delay, Michaela Munson, who only carried over four (4) faults from her previous rounds, completed the course with no errors on Bluebelle. The pair were coming off of a second-place finish in yesterday’s team competition, where they were a critical part of the Zone 1/7 podium finish. Alexis Bauman, carefully studied Michaela’s ride and entered the ring to pilot Miracle’s Happen to a clear round of her own, thus changing the circumstances for the jump-off. Although North Carolina’s Audrey Turner put in her best effort to match the 4-faults score of Munson and Bauman, her pony, Prince Oliver, unfortunately, did not keep all of the rails in the cups. Turner would have to settle for a final score of eight (8) faults and the Bronze medal position.
Once all of the riders had completed the first round, Shelley made quick adjustments and Munson returned to the ring first to take her shot over the short course track. Both scores had been adjusted back down to zero. Narrowed down from an original 14-efforts to just eight (8), the jump-off had a mix of long gallops and tight rollbacks, requiring the pony riders to have perfect communication and control. Munson made it all the way to the last fence before Bluebelle had an unfortunate front rail of the oxer. Although all Baumen had to do was produce a clear round, she came into the ring ready to highlight Miracle’s Happen speed and agility. The pair made short work of the jump-off, stopping the clock in 48.216 with no faults at all.
The top three riders, Bauman, Munson, and Turner were all invited back into the ring at the end of the class to stand aboard the podium and be recognized. Ryder Richardson was also invited to return to the ring to receive his honors as the recipient of the Style Award, from his performance on RR Cool Play.
Being named the Gold medal winner was exceptionally meaningful for Bauman, who hails from Woodside, Illinois; as the last time she was able to compete in the Pony Jumper Championships, in 2019, she did not secure a podium finish. At 17-years old, the 2021 year was her last opportunity to leave her name in the Pony Finals history books, after being in attendance for the last 10-years. The win is also shared across other members of the Baumen family because her mother, Amber, serves as her coach and her pony was originally purchased for her brother.
The individual pony Jumper Championships will conclude the Pony Finals competition taking place outside of Rolex Arena. The 2021 USEF Pony Finals presented by Honor Hill Farm concludes tomorrow after the popular Pony Medal class starting promptly at 7 am.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
On competing at Pony Finals
“This is my 10th pony finals but it is only my second time doing the pony jumpers.”
On her ride today
“My rounds were pretty good today! I felt a little sketchy coming to the fish jump, and I knew he had a rub on the backside, but he was able to keep his feet up and we got lucky. Today was so cool because, at the 2019 Pony Finals, I did not make the ribbons for the Jumpers, I was just out of it, so I told my mom that I really wanted to go for the gold this year since it was my last year!”
On her nerves while waiting for the jump-off
“My heart was pumping out of my chest while I was waiting for the jump-off! I kept thinking that if she (Munson) goes clear, then I have to go clear and go faster. Sometimes when Roy (Miracles Happen) goes fast, he gets flat and then he skims the jumps and knocks them down. But we got really lucky today and that didn’t happen.”
On Miracles Happen:
“We have had him for five years. My brother showed him two years before me. He also did him in the pony jumpers but then decided that he wanted to play football instead of ride horses. I really like the adrenaline that he gives me. In the hunter’s you have to work so hard to be perfect and with him, I get to let loose and be myself and have fun.”
On her future riding goals
“I am going to do the big equitation this fall and compete in the ASPCA the Maclay Finals. After that we are planning to move my horse up to do the jumpers.”
2021 USEF Pony Jumper National Championships Individual Competition
Miracles Happen / Alexis Bauman / Amber Bauman / 4 / 0 / 0
Bluebelle / Michaela Munson / Genevieve Munson / 4 / 0 / 4
Prince Oliver / Audrey Turner / Audrey Turner / 8 / 0 / 8
Angel / Molly Korczon / Ponies Unlimited LLC / 12 / 0 / 12
RR Cool Play / Ryder Richardson / Ryder Richardson / 12 / 0 / 12
Trewithian Hawkeweed / Cash Delia / Cash Delia / 12 / 0 / 12
Tippy Toes / Ashling Goodwin / Ashlin Goodwin / 16 / 0 / 16
Astroworld / Hannah Haines / Hannah Haines / 16 / 0 / 16
Star Wish / Dejah Valdez / Dejah Valdez / 16 / 0 / 16
Kinkas Girl / Lily Gnojewski / Ponies Unlimited LLC / 16 / 0 / 16
Thunder D’Azure / Kennedy Chang / Kennedy Change / 16 / 0 / 16