Saturday evening saw the pony jumpers return to the Alltech Arena for the third phase of individual competition during USEF Pony Finals. The top 13 riders returned for the finals, all vying for the championship title. Hallie Rush and Sky Miles proved to be the most consistent over the three days of competition, never incurring any faults to impressively finish on a score of zero to earn the title of the 2019 USEF Pony Jumper Individual Champion.
Comprised of 14 efforts, Jasen Shelley’s course challenged the competitors to produce clean and clear rounds. With just two competitors entering the final round with zero combined faults from the prior two days of competition and a handful with four faults to their names, it was anyone’s game. Returning in reverse order of the standings from the previous days of competition, Rush was second-to-last in the order of go. Entering with a total of zero faults, Rush and her 20-year-old pony felt the pressure to jump clear yet again. Producing a clear round by utilizing her pony’s experience and steady rhythm, Rush impressively walked away from the 2019 Pony Jumper Finals with zero faults to her name.
Devi Ferreira, a member of the winning USEF Pony Jumper team from Zone 10, was the last to enter the ring. Also entering with zero faults like Rush, Ferreria’s round would be the deciding factor for the jump-off to determine the silver and bronze podium finishers after she ultimately had one down during her round.
A total of four pairs would return for the silver medal jump-off, including Ferreira and Silver Charm, Hannah Attar and Joel, Trey Batts and Prince Oliver, and Tabitha Okitsu and Spoot De La Jourlais. Competing over the shortened course of eight efforts, Okitsu was second to enter the ring. With no rails down, she eventually secured the bronze medal finish to round out her time at the 2019 USEF Pony Jumper competition. Ferreira, finishing on a total of zero faults during the jump-off round and an even swifter time than her previous clear competitor, ended with the silver medal. Additionally, Ferreira was awarded the US Pony Jumper Style Award for her stellar results throughout the week.
Rush, from Tennessee, has attended USEF Pony Finals for the past four years and has finished on the podium for the team finals, but her 2019 gold marks her first individual medal. Partnered with Sky Miles, a Connemara mare, for six years, the pair felt ready to compete at the 2019 USEF Pony Jumpers competition. Sky Miles, a veteran of the annual event, has attended for eight years with various pilots on board. Despite the mare’s age, the pair easily soared around the track to produce consistently clear rounds together over the course of the week.
Saturday evening’s final concludes jumper action during USEF Pony Finals week, but a new crop of riders and ponies will return to the Alltech Arena next year for the 2020 USEF Pony Jumper Championships
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Hallie Rush – USEF Pony Jumper Champion
On her win:
“This is definitely at the top for me. This is a big achievement that we’ve worked really hard for. In the past years I’ve had team gold and team silver, but I’ve never medaled individually so it’s a big win for us. It’s a full team to get us all here and come here to do the best that we can. I’ve been showing competitively since I was 7 years old and I’m 16 now. It’s a really big thing for us because it’s hard to come in here with all the people in the crowd and the ring, and it’s a lot of pressure. Everyone else has really good ponies too, and it’s good to have a lot of rounds and stay at the top.”
On Sky Miles:
“This will be my fourth year here but [Sky Miles] has been here a lot. I think that I’ve really progressed a lot as a rider and I’ve been able to give her a good ride this year. She was in good shape this year and she really gave it her all. She still loves it. I’ve had her for six years. She’s been in the United States since 2005 and has shown at Pony Finals for eight years. She is still going strong. She loves it in here so she really lights up naturally. At home you would think she is a hunter, but as soon as she gets here she kicks into gear. We call her Annie. She is so sweet, a motherly type. She loves everybody.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Total Score
Individual Jumper Final
1. Sky Miles / Hallie Rush / 0
2. Silver Charm / Devi Ferreira / 4
3. Spoot De La Jourlais / Tabitha Okitsu / 4
4. Prince Olver / Trey Batts / 4
5. Joel / Hannah Attar / 4
6. Magic Beans / Madison Kondracki / 8
7. Raisin A Ruckus / Lydia Philbrick / 12
8. All Dun Up / Megan De Michele / 16
8. EZ To Spot / Devon Owen / 16
10. National Treasure / Katharine Dade / 27
11. Angel / Molly Koczon / 28
12. Miracles Happen / Alexis Bauman / 29
13. RR Cool Play / Ryder Richardson / 32