Lexington, KY – Aug. 7, 2022 – Competition wrapped up Sunday at the Kentucky Summer Classic in both the Claiborne and Murphy rings, overseeing a talented field of riders and their ponies vying for top honors in their respective divisions. All hoping to claim the Grand Pony Hunter Championship title, sponsored by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, competitors put their best foot forward to try and accumulate the most points across a two day span of competition. In the end, JJ Torano and Paris Charm emerged victorious, walking away with the Grand Pony Hunter Championship.
No stranger to the hunter rings, course designer Jasen Shelley (USA) designed the hunter tracks to showcase the beautiful fluidity of the horse and rider combinations, allowing them to open up their strides and show a forward pace to each natural obstacle. Torano and the 14-year-old Welsh Pony mare were near perfect throughout each course over the two days of competition. The pair, taking part in the Medium Pony Hunters, topped the leaderboard in every class they entered which earned them a total of 50 points to secure the Championship. Torano’s expertise piloting his mount was shown in their consistent pace and jumping style that continued to impress the judges.
The final day of the Kentucky Spring Classic horse show saw several talented pony divisions spread out across several rings, in which riders used the competition to gear up for USEF Pony Finals next week. The Medium Pony Hunters, Section A and B, kicked off the day in the Claiborne ring where 40 horse-and-rider combinations were challenged to a track designed by Shelley. Stiff competition took place as the athletes were eager to lay down solid efforts to take momentum into the next week. Both rounds in Section A went to Torano and Paris Charm, and Section B saw Emerson Euler ride Bridlewood in Deemand to the blue ribbon in the classic hunter round, but Torano topped the leaderboard once again, this time aboard FPF Favor, in the handy. The WIHS Pony Medal MED concluded the day in the Claiborne and saw Emma Hakim ride to victory aboard Shine On Me.
Running alongside in the Murphy ring were the Children’s Pony and Small Pony Hunter divisions. The Children’s Pony Med division saw two different competitors take the blue ribbon in the two rounds of competition, which were Sophia Cruise aboard CSH Stay Golden and Chandler Wilks aboard Royal Affair. The Small Pony Hunter was also split into Section A and B and saw their respective winners for each section. First, Currie Cooper and Snowbound emerged victorious in the classic hunter round, and Lauren Padilla took the blue ribbon aboard Celebration in the handy round. Following that, JJ Torano and H.G. Mud Puddles dominated to take the win in both round one and the handy round. The Murphy ring saw the WIHS Pony Medal small conclude the day where Sylvie Ruby and Quicksilver Bells were victorious.
In the Annex ring, Chandler Wilks took the Children’s Pony Large division aboard Roulette, while Lilly Rae Buncher and Autumn Kinman captured blue ribbons aboard Captain Crunch and McCallister, respectively, in the Children’s Pony Small division. When it came to the Pony Jumper division, which took place in the Walnut Arena, Aundrea Hillyard led the way with her trusted mount, Magic Dragon.
The pony athletes and their mounts will return to the Kentucky Horse Park next week for the much anticipated USEF Pony Finals. Kicking off Monday, August 9, the bluegrass state will play host to some of the most talented horse-and-rider combinations to show off their skills on the big stage with competition taking place in the Rolex Stadium.