Aug. 10—Lexington, Ky.
When Magical Diamond prepared to walk into the ring with Kirklen Petersen for the medium green pony over fences class of the USEF Pony Finals at the Kentucky Horse Park, his owner, Elizabeth Foster, was nowhere to be seen.
It wasn’t that she didn’t care to see him go, she was just too rattled with nerves to watch. But when she found out he earned scores of 85, 88, 83.75 to take over the lead, overwhelming excitement supplanted all those nerves.
“I came dashing over to the in-gate to congratulate Kirklen and my mom and [trainer] Peter [Pletcher],” said Foster. “I’m so happy for them.”
That round earned the blue ribbon, which boosted Petersen and the Welsh Cross (Mapleside Mr. Magic—Little Miss Diamond) to the medium green pony championship and the grand green title. Maddy Darst piloted Easter Monday to the reserve title for Carol Dornisch.
Magical Diamond's over fences round earned the highest scores of any green pony trip.
Watch her trip:
Petersen’s had the ride on the 9-year-old since the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.) where they earned the medium green pony hunter circuit award. Foster’s been practicing on the pony at home and improving on his flatwork, and she’s shown him some herself as well. Peter Pletcher helped the pair out this week, but normally Tommy Serio trains the pony.
“He likes a nice, loose ride, and then you can just find the jumps,” said Petersen, 14. “He [doesn’t seem] green at all. I thought our trip was really good.”
Petersen has a few project ponies of her own at home in Great Falls, Va., but these days she mostly catch rides for others. She meets up with her trainers, Tim and Kelly Goguen in Wellington, Fla., in the winter, and flies to Lexington, Ky., where their farm is located, for much of the summer.
“I love catch riding!” said Petersen. “There’s some pressure but a lot less work!”
Faunti Makes A Serious Impression
Darst doesn’t have many opportunities to ride Faunti these days. That pony lives in Wellington, Fla., with his owner Meredith Maroone, and Darst lives in Lebanon, Ohio. But that didn’t stop Darst from riding that pony to the top of the large green pony hunter division and winning the reserve overall green pony title.
Savannah Talcott and Someday Came leapt up from 20th to the reserve large green pony title thanks to a winning over fences trip.
“I've ridden him since WEF, and he’s really smooth, with easy lead changes,” said Darst, 14. “He’s green, but not super green, and he’s not spooky.”
Faunti is normally trained by Rob Coluccio, but at Pony Finals Evan Coluccio trained the pony and Darst.
The Dutch Warmblood gelding of unknown breeding came into the over fences phase tied for first with Scott Stewart’s For The Love and Alex Crown, then jumped a second-place round to finish with the tricolor.
“I was a little worried about the bending line to the in-and-out, because the in-and-out was steady,” said Darst. “It was the worst part of my course. I went a little direct in nine strides and rode up nicely, but then to the out of the in-and-out I had to whoa. I didn’t get to watch many others to go see how it rode, but I was just glad there wasn’t a [spooky] hedge like last year!”
Darst will return to campaign medium pony Enchanted Forest and large pony For The Laughter.
Bit Of Laughter Has A Big Day
Lindsay Levine had a spectacular two days showing Bit of Laughter to the small green pony hunter championship, but that doesn’t mean getting there was easy.
“I did him for the first time at [the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival] and the first two shows were not good,” said Levine, Wellington, Fla. “Then we started getting reserve champion and champion every weekend.”
That change came with an awful lot of hard work alongside Scott Stewart, who owns the pony and trains Levine. With his help she’s learned to prevent him from swapping off his leads, and finessed his lead changes.
“This is his first time at Pony Finals, and he’s really green,” said Levine, 11. “I've ridden green ponies before, but the other green ponies were older.”
The 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood of unknown breeding claimed the division championship after standing third in the model, picking up second under saddle and jumping to second over fences. Quicksilver Butterfly and Emma Kurtz went home with the reserve ribbon, and Chatterbox and Emma Lemke catapulted from 18th up to third after winning the over fences round.
The judges took a careful look at the medium ponies under saddle today (coupled with Tuesday's model Betsee Parker's 2007 Pony Finals grand champion Enchanted Forest and Maddy Darst lay on top of the division). Small ponies model and work under saddle tomorrow morning, then the medium ponies will take over the Walnut Ring for their over fences class.
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