Lexington, KY – Aug 8, 2021 – Competition came to a close on Sunday afternoon at the Kentucky Summer Classic as small but mighty competitors descended upon the Walnut ring for the final day of competition in the Voltaire Pony Jumper Division. Young riders and their speedy mounts raced around the final track in hopes of hoisting the final tricolor ribbon before the individual and team finals held next week at the Kentucky Horse Park during USEF Pony Finals presented by Honor Hill Farm. It was ultimately Molly Koczon and her trusty mount, Angel, who galloped home with the victory. While fellow Zone 2 teammate Devon Owen and her mount, EZ To Spot, secured a reserve champion title.
The pony jumper division kicked off in the Walnut Ring on Saturday, inviting junior riders and their ponies to try their hand at the title. Koczon and the 17-year old Paint pony mare owned by Ponies Unlimited, LLC sped off with the win a full six seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. Coming off of a reserve championship finish in the Pony Jumper Division at New Canaan Mounted Troop, the long-time duo topped their efforts speeding around Sunday’s course to take home a second-place ribbon. Combined with their blue ribbon efforts on Saturday, their speed and agility aided in capturing the title. After returning from a brief hiatus from the pony jumpers, Koczon secured a final championship win as well as added confidence heading into her last ever finals.
Koczon, who planned for last year to be her final season in the Pony Jumper division, came out of retirement to show Angel for one last season before aging out and heading off to college. As a pony jumper finalist in 2019, the experienced pony rider plans to show Angel and her other mount, White Wine, also owned by Ponies Unlimited, LLC. in the Team and Individual Finals next week.
The race for the title was neck and neck following stiff competition from fellow Zone 2 teammate Owen, and Pony Unlimited, LLC’s 20-year-old Pony of The Americas gelding, EZ To Spot. The long-time horse-and-rider combo was hot on Koczon’s heels turning in a third-place finish on Saturday followed by their first-place finish on Sunday afternoon. Though the duo bested Koczon on the final day of competition, they secured their Reserve Champion title as Koczon managed to hold her lead, taking home the Championship Title.
Owen, who will also compete on the Zone 2 team at Pony Finals early next week, has plans to ride in college and train horses in the future. In their final junior year, the pair head into their last finals, coming off of a championship win in the High Pony Jumper division at the Snowbird June I show held in New Jersey.
Competition at the Kentucky Summer Classic comes to a close on Sunday, August 8, with the crowning of the Hagyard Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champion, Presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. The action returns for a feature event of the summer for USEF Pony Finals presented by Honor Hill Farm on Tuesday, August 10.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Molly Koczon – Voltaire Pony Jumper Division winner
“I’ve been riding Angel for about five years now. This is our third time in Kentucky. We were actually supposed to go last year but it got cancelled. Last year was supposed to be our last year together but we figured we’d come out again. Just one last time before I age out. I rode a couple of horses before I got Angel but she was the one I got into it with for the pony jumpers.”
On her rounds:
“My first round this week really stood out to me. We came back from not doing a lot and we came into the first round double clear and it was really good just to get out there. It made it a really good day.”
On Pony Finals:
“For the pony jumpers we do three nights. The first night is the individual, the second night we do a team which also contributes to the individual. So for the team, it’s the whole zone 2 because we have four people to complete it. Our first year together, we placed fifth in individual and our team placed fourth which is really good.”
On strategy heading into Pony Finals:
“It’s really day by day just figuring out how she rides. It’s always different depending on how she’s feeling.”
On her future plans:
“This is gonna be my last year doing big shows like this. I’m planning on taking a step back and just doing little shows at home and staying local. When I look at colleges this year, I’m going to look for something that has a good equestrian team, but nothing too large. I want to keep it small since I’m not planning on this being my full-time job, but I still want to be involved.”
Devon Owen – Voltaire Pony Jumper Division Reserve Champion
On EZ To Spot:
“He’s a 20 year old Pony of the Americas and this is probably his tenth year here for Pony Jumpers. He’s also a Breyer horse! I’ve been riding him for five years.”
On her strategy:
“I wanted to not let him go quite as fast. I tried to keep him back and a little more collected. I think today was my best round. The last two days I had a couple rails, so today was definitely our best day. Next week we’ll try our hardest to go clear and do well for our team, as well as for myself in the individual finals.”
On her future plans:
“I’m going to do the Devon Fall Classic. I definitely want to ride in college next year and aim to become a trainer after that.”