On Oct. 10, Kent Farrington made a call on his social media accounts to a specific audience: U.S. Pony Clubs members. In an Instagram post with two photos—one of him jumping his first pony Samantha and one of him jumping his international star Voyeur—Farrington asked Pony Clubbers to post a picture “demonstrating an aspect of horsemanship excellence” and use the hashtag “#KPFtickets” in order to win tickets to the $250,000 Longines FEI Lexington World Cup qualifier at the CP National Horse Show (Ky.).
Then he would chose one entry at random for a paid trip to Wellington, Fla., for the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival, including a private tour of Farrington’s farm there and VIP tickets to a Saturday Night Lights grand prix.
Farrington started in Pony Club when he was growing up in Chicago. He hoped this contest would inspire and expose Pony Clubbers to the highest levels of the sport.
“If I would have had some exposure like that when I was in Pony Club—the really high level stuff—that would have been real exciting,” said Farrington. “So it’s fun for me to not only be at that level in the sport, but also to be able to share that with those kids and give them the opportunity to see it firsthand. It’s a cool way for me to give back to Pony Club, because that’s where I started.”
Alexia Diaz, 16, of Rutland, Vt., won the trip. Diaz, a Pony Club C-1, competes mainly in dressage with her mount Mariner and has been a member of the Rutland County Pony Club for four years. When her Pony Club district commissioner Andrea Hathaway-Miglorie sent her an email about the contest, Diaz whipped up an Instagram post and entered.
“I was teaching some younger members in our club about colic and how to know when your horse is colicking: what to do to, why they colic because their stomach is so small,” she explained of her horsemanship entry. “In Pony Club, teaching is a really important part of it.
“I’m really excited because it’s an incredible opportunity,” she continued. “I’m going to see a bunch of new things and maybe set some goals for my future from the stuff I see. I’m pretty excited to get a tour of his farm. [I’m] just really excited. I’ve never seen grand prix jumping before in person.”
Farrington hopes to run more contests like this, not only to give back, but also to encourage everyone to remember the grassroots.
“Going to the barn every single day in the country—it was a long way away from home, an hour and a half drive one way,” said Farrington of his childhood Pony Club experience, which he shared with his sister Kim Farrington. “And staying there all night taking care of our pony and going to a little Pony Club rally for the meetings and stuff that my mom would drive us to. I think that’s really cool. It was totally raw. It was just you and the pony. It wasn’t these high-level shows. It didn’t cost tons of money. There wasn’t big pressure to do anything. It was for the love of the sport. For the love of the horse. For the love of the pony. Just really kind of down to basics like that. I think it’s important to not forget those things.”