Aug. 13—Lexington, Ky.
The USEF Pony Finals are nothing new to Julia Curtis—but the pony jumpers at Pony Finals are. The past two years, Curtis competed ponies in the hunter rings. But after acknowledging her need for speed, she partnered with The Waterboy a year ago for some jumper fun. Her third time at the national championship at the Kentucky Horse Park proved to be a gold charm as she jumped Saturday evening’s sole clean round to win the individual gold at the pony jumper championship.
“I can’t get all this processed,” said Curtis, 12. “This is amazing. I’ve never been first at a national show. Winning a gold medal and you’re 12 years old…it’s awesome.”
Curtis and "Derby" were careful to leave all the rails in their cups, but made sure to set a quick pace early, just in case, and galloped around in 69.41 seconds.
A jump-off was held to determine the silver medal winner, as four horse and rider combinations had each put in a 4-fault round. Gold medal winners from yesterday's team competition, Sarah Walker and La-Ti-Da, flew around Richard Jeffries shortened course, but ended up pulling a rail.
Zone 2's Noah Buehler and Porsche followed, upping the pressure by putting in a clean round in 33.50 seconds.
Buehler's teammate on the silver medal-winning Zone 2 team Brooke Gunther set her sights out to beat Buehler's round, but too sharp a turn after jump 1 caused Gunther to lose her balance, and she came off Fire Van Battenbroek.
Competitors and spectators alike held their breath as the final entry, Claire Salopek and Sir Lance-A-Lot, picked up the canter and headed to the first jump. Salopek's strategy appeared to be to play it safe, choosing wide roll back turns in lieu of tight ones in hopes of medaling, but a refusal at the fourth jump secured the silver for Buehler.
- Gold: Julia Curtis, Villa Rica, Ga., and The Waterboy: 0-70.83
- Silver: Noah Buehler, Wall, N.J., and Porsche: 4-0-33.50
- Bronze: Sarah Walker, Dallas, Texas, and La-Ti-Da: 4-4-32.92
Full results can be found here, thanks to shownet.biz.
What Else Happened?
- Nicole Kehrli and Northwind’s Opus, who held the top spot during phases I and II, pulled two rails on tonight’s course, and ended up in sixth.
- Maddy Darst, who won multiple honors in the hunter rings, came into tonight's phase with 16 faults, but Color Me Ziggy's refusal at the liverpool put her out of top-ten contention.
- All four of the members from Zone 7's gold medal-winning team placed in the top ten during tonight's individual competition.