This week, HITS-on-the-Hudson is hosting the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals  in Saugerties, N.Y. Several horse-and-rider teams from our barn qualified, including Rachel Buckley and her pony Misty, show name Out of the Mist. It wasn’t a sure thing though.
The Buckley family waited for news about how they would spend this week—Rachel and Misty were 37th on the list of qualifiers for the children’s equitation pony medal final, which called for only the top 30 pony-and-rider teams to be invited to the finals. Promises were made and broken that the final list would be announced by Sept. 10, 11 and 12.
Finally, when Rachel’s mother’s blood pressure could go no higher, the news came Monday morning Sept. 13, that yes, Misty and Rachel qualified for the children’s equitation pony medal final, and oh, by the way, they also qualified for the children’s hunter pony final. Mrs. Buckley’s condition went from hypertension to full blown cardiac arrest. Plans were quickly made to pull Rachel out of school (she was crushed), pack up the pony and kid, locate an available hotel room, and beg days off from mystified employers.
What’s the big deal? Misty is a Mustang. Purchased from a Bureau of Land Management  auction in 1999, Misty was riddled with still-healing scars that today are spray painted for horse shows. She found her way to the Buckley family in 2007, where she was trained to become a hunter/jumper pony under the tutelage of trainer Amy Wales. It is clearly a job that Misty was born to do. Rachel and Misty quickly rose through the ranks and found their niche in the pony jumper division, where they won the Vermont Hunter Jumper Association  2009 pony jumper year-end award. Today, Rachel and Misty train with Tara Valade at StoneHaven .
This is Rachel’s last show season on Misty, her long legs tell the story of a pony soon to be outgrown . It’s a fitting end to a wonderful partnership and a beautiful love story.
So for any of you who may believe that national finals slots are reserved for six-figure-ponies, think of Misty the Mustang this weekend, competing at the Marshall & Sterling National Finals in Saugerties, N.Y. Rachel and Misty are slated to ride 10th today in the $1,250 children’s hunter working pony class in the Grand Prix ring which gets underway at noon. For tomorrow and Sunday’s schedule and order of go, go to the HITS website .
I’ll report back on their experience next week.
Elizabeth Howell grew up riding on the hunter/jumper circuit in Massachusetts. Now she is a horse show mom. She holds a day job at The Emily Post Institute and slings horse manure on the weekends. Her website is www.sheridesIpay.com.