Before Kent Farrington got a team silver medal and fifth individually at the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympic Games, before he was winning grand prix classes across the country and around the world, before he was COTH’s 2016 Show Jumping Horseman of the Year, even before his father traded a computer for his first horse, there was Farrington’s first pony: Samantha.
Farrington, 36, grew up in Chicago, and after seeing a picture of his mother riding a horse all 8-year-old Kent wanted was a pony of his own. His little sister, Kim, shared his horse obsession, and on Christmas morning in 1989 Farrington finally got what he wanted—but not before his father played a little prank on him.
“My dad always liked playing jokes, and he thought it would be funny to give us these plastic Breyer ponies on Christmas morning, when all Kent has been asking for was a pony, a real pony,” Kim said with a laugh. “So my dad gave us the Breyer ponies, and I was so excited and thought, ‘Cool, a little pony,’ but Kent was so upset.
“He handed me his pony and said, ‘You can have mine, I can’t go to the Olympics on a plastic horse,’” Kim continued.
Little did lil’ Kent know that his Christmas wish would be granted later that day.
“Our parents said we were going out to the barn to go sledding even though there was no snow,” Kim recalled in an email. “And we were surprised with our first pony when we arrived. Her name was Samantha. This picture was from that day!”
Samantha was meant to be both Kent and Kim’s pony, but that plan was revised pretty quickly.
Kent Farrington showing Samantha. Photo by Mart
“My parents quickly realized that ‘sharing’ a pony didn’t work that well,” Kim said. “The first few years we had her I would brush her and make Kent pick the feet and put the tack on (the part of tacking up I didn’t like!) and he would then have a lesson on her and I would cool her out. I had to have my lessons on other ponies.
“With Samantha we both did Pony Club, some county fair shows and Kent would race her in the annual pony race at St. James Farm,” Kim continued. “A few years later, Kent got a new pony, Buster the Wonder Pony, so then I had Samantha to myself.”
For more on Farrington’s journey to the Olympics, check out the Feb. 6 American Horses In Sport issue of The Chronicle Of The Horse, out now!