When you see a pony at a show, can you be sure how old it is?
It seems a simple question. If it’s a rated show, you look at the pony’s U.S. Equestrian Federation registration. Go online to USEF.org, type in a horse or pony’s show name, and pull up that animal’s age, breeding and owner information.
But it can be difficult to prove a pony’s age, and that difficulty can be exploited. An example: This year’s U.S. Pony Finals small green pony champion, So Enchanted, appears to have been intentionally registered under a false age in order to obtain a permanent measurement card before she was 6.
In the Chronicle’s article recounting Caroline Passerelli’s win aboard So Enchanted at U.S. Pony Finals (Aug. 29, p. 76), Michaila and her sister Jessica Zandri, co-owners of So Enchanted, were credited with breeding the Welsh cross (Maple Side Mr. Magic—Sophisticated Lady), something they’d claimed in interviews. So Enchanted has no breeder recorded with USEF and isn’t registered with the Welsh Pony & Cob Society.
But Lilli Power, of Louisville, Ky., claimed that the breeder attributed in the article was incorrect. “She was bred and [sic] Crestwood, KY at valley view farm [sic] by Leslie and George Governo and lived there till she was 4,” said Power in a Facebook message.
When asked to clarify the breeding of the pony, stable name “Lex,” Michaila, of London, Ontario, admitted she did not breed the pony.
“So the scoop on Lex is no we didn’t breed her,” Michaila texted. “Back when we were getting her measured it was the year when they were changing the rules on perm[anent] cards from 6 to 8 so we needed to make her older in order (as her dad is 14 hands and her mom is 13.1 so she technically shouldn’t be a small) to get her perm[anent] card in case she would grow over and be a very useless small medium.
“Luckily she didn’t grow, but we didn’t know that at the time as a 4 year old,” Zandri continued. “We had to get the steward and a bunch of people on board to agree she was older m[sic] and the stallion owner had to issue a new breeding certificate from a different year in my name in order to pull this all off and it was all in my name as breeder so that the show vet would go along with it as she doesn’t really look two years older.”
“I am not wanting anyone to get in trouble for helping us out on what could be quite the scandal,” Michaila said later in the text. “It’s an insane business and I just go along with what the pros think is best.”
Papers, Notes And Faith In Mankind
While Zandri alleges that others in the industry helped her misrecord the pony, the procedure for obtaining a measurement card doesn’t require the cooperation of a veterinarian, steward or breeder to record a false age.
To obtain a measurement card, a pony must be presented to a USEF steward and veterinarian at a USEF-recognized horse show. Before presenting the pony, the owner or person presenting the pony fills out the top half of the USEF measurement application, including a section for recording the year the pony was foaled.
The owner or person presenting the pony hands the form to the USEF steward conducting the measurement. If the pony is applying for a standard measurement card (referred to as its “permanent card”), there is a box checked by the veterinarian or USEF steward that reads “Hunter/jumper/Welsh: Under eight years of age” or “Eight or older (*Examination of teeth must be performed)”.
The veterinarian then examines the pony’s teeth to determine if it appears over or under the age of 8. If the pony is at or over the age of 8, it’s allowed to be measured for its standard card. If the pony is not 8, it cannot receive a standard card and must be re-measured every year until it is 8. The year So Enchanted was measured, 2014, was the last year ponies could get their standard card at age 6 before the rule was changed.
Steward Dorothy Trapp and veterinarian Rich Metcalf, DVM, were listed on So Enchanted’s measurement card, but neither recalled measuring the pony in 2014 or speaking with the Zandris.
“I wish I had total recall of two years ago, but I’ve measured a whole lot since then,” Trapp said.
UPDATE: U.S. Equestrian released a statement regarding So Enchanted on March 9, 2017. Click here to read it.
This is an excerpt from the article “Of Ponies, Papers And Pushing The Limits” by Ann Glavan, which appears in the Oct. 24 & 31 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. If you’d like to read the article in its entirety, you can subscribe and get online access to a digital version and then enjoy a year of The Chronicle of the Horse and our lifestyle publication Untacked. Or you can purchase a single issue or subscribe on a mobile device through our app The Chronicle of the Horse LLC.
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