Harrisburg, Pa.—Oct. 11
There aren’t many “mutts” jumping around at Pennsylvania National Junior Weekend, but Wicked fits the bill.
Katie Pontone freely admits that her blue-eyed paint mare, Wicked, doesn’t have distinguished bloodlines. “She’s just a mutt!” she said. “But she’s the best.” Together, Pontone, 18, and the mare she bought out of a field just months ago topped the NAL Pony Jumper Final with the only clean round of the jump-off. They were also the top qualifiers in the NAL standings.
Wicked, 13, wasn’t an experienced show pony when Pontone, of Red Bank, N.J., found her. She was an overweight, scruffy pony who had perhaps shown in a few local shows over the years but didn’t have any kind of record or experience. Pontone, who had shown in the crossrails as a 12-year-old, also hadn’t shown for a number of years.
Pontone joined forces with her trainer, Kali Jerman, and they got to work showing Wicked the ropes. “She tries so hard every time,” Pontone said. “She’s so smart and catches up on things so quickly.”
Wicked took to jumping right way, despite being blind in her right eye. “It doesn’t bother her; you can’t tell,” Pontone said.
While going clean was the priority for the jump-off, Pontone and Wicked were also quite quick. “She has her own motor, and in the ring she tends to focus and back off a little bit more. She knows it’s time to turn on the game and win,” Pontone said.
Sadly, this is Pontone’s swan song showing Wicked, since as of Dec. 1 she’ll be an amateur. She’s planning to lease a horse from Jerman to show in the adult amateur jumpers. “I’d love to come back to this show with my next horse, and hopefully Wicked will be here too with her new owner, and I can watch her go,” Pontone said.
Wicked’s blue eyes, paint coloring and roached mane were a distinctly different look from the classic hunters who toured the ring all day in the Farm Show Arena. From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. four divisions of junior hunters took center stage.
It didn’t come as much of a surprise when Tori Colvin started off the day with two wins in the small junior, 15 and under, division aboard Betsee Parker’s Ovation. The pair were grand junior hunter champions here last year. Colvin, 15, also rode Parker’s Inclusive to a blue and a red in the large junior hunter, 15 and under, division. In addition, Colvin won the speed welcome class for the junior jumpers on Monsieur de Reverdy. Is she that good? Yes, she’s that good. Interestingly, Colvin showed that even though she’s such a talent in the tack, horses are still unpredictable for her.
In the first class of the large junior, 15 and under, division, Way Cool took an aversion to the second jump, whirling on the approach twice. But Colvin coaxed him through the tantrum patiently and calmly, and he completed the course. The horse returned to jump confidently in the handy class and place third.
Hasbrouck Donovan must be breathing a sigh of relief that she’s finally aged out of Colvin’s division. She did some domination of her own in the 16-17 divisions, winning both of the small classes on Confidential and placing first and second in the larges with Wagner.
The award for biggest smile of the day, however, would go to Reid Patton. As the diminutive teenager guided her Foreign Exchange around the first course of the large junior, 16-17, division, her smile became evident. Jumping down the last line, she was visibly grinning in mid-air. She and Foreign Exchange ended up winning that class and then placing fifth in the handy class.
Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of the junior hunters, and coverage of the junior jumper team competition. Read all of the Chronicle's coverage of the Pennsylvania National.