Upper Marlboro, Md. — Oct. 7.
Storyteller has championed pony divisions with multiple riders over the years, most recently with Sophie and Mimi Gochman, and this year he continued his winning ways with a new charge, Grace Debney. Debney, 13, bought the gelding from Kim Stewart last November after keeping her eye on him for years.
“Kim has had him a long time and always leased him,” Debney’s trainer, Stacey Weiss said. “She said ‘I’d like you to have him’ and I said, ‘Well we’d like to buy him’ so it worked out well.”
“Story” lives on Weiss’ Shadow Ridge Farm in Westminster, Md., and Debney lives in Camden, Mass., so Debney makes the seven-hour voyage almost every weekend, but says it’s worth it to work with the veteran champion.
“He’s very silly,” Debney said of the 14-year-old German Sport Pony. “When you give him a treat he sticks his tongue out and rolls it back to suck on it. But he knows when it’s a big show and he wants to make it count. He doesn’t really care at the small shows, but when we get here he perks up.”
Debney sat second in the national rankings going into Capital Challenge. The pair won with an 89.83, leading the field by more than a point and rose to the national champion spot. Debney said she wasn’t thinking about rankings during her ride and didn’t let the pressure get to her.
“I had a good weekend so I just tried to have fun,” Debney said. “I think that’s the best way to ride, to just do it.”
Debney has been competing in the pony divisions for three years and has ridden in Capital Challenge before on other ponies. She and Story went to Devon (Pa.) and USEF Pony Finals (Ky.) this year, but the WCHR Pony Challenge was their biggest win together.
“This win is one of the best; it was really great,” she said.