Aug. 9—Lexington, Ky
In the three months leading up to USEF Pony Finals, Hana Bieling developed a ritual. Every day she would look up at the calendar, and count down the days until she would get to see Canterbrook Prince Charming at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Bieling had developed a serious bond with the small pony as soon as she paired up with him during FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.). The qualified for Pony Finals off the bat, then he was sold to Kathryn McCarthy to serve as her mount in the children’s division.
At first glance, "Prince" and Bieling didn’t seem like a shoo-in for a tricolor in Kentucky. Prince had spent the last few months bonding with his new rider, but he hadn’t competed in the regular division since last March. He and Bieling didn’t have a warm up show to get reacquainted, and he’d never been to Pony Finals, or even competed at the Kentucky Horse Park for that matter. To make matters worse, it was pouring rain when they entered the ring for their over fences class.
But none of that mattered. Prince galloped through the raindrops to earn the second place over fences ribbon (including the highest overall mark from any one of the three judges, an 87.15) and the overall small pony hunter championship.
Watch their round here:
Armani and Daisy Farish came into the over fences round laying 10th, and put in the best trip of the day to move up to overall second place.
When she reunited with Prince, who started his career in Canada with rider Lily de la Fuente, Bieling found she had a totally different mount than she did back in March. But it was a positive change.
“Back then his canter was pretty strung out, and he didn’t have all his steering,” recalled Bieling of the 8-year-old. “Kathryn did a really good job with him. He’s really good now.”
In the mean time, Beiling trained with her aunt Jennier Bieling in Naples, Fla., working on honing her form (she mostly works on her upper body) in preparation for her fifth and final shot at the small pony division at Pony Finals.
Next up, Bieling will compete in Sunday’s USEF Pony Medal Final aboard a different pony.
Large ponies wrap up hunter competition tomorrow, and two ponies have pulled ahead of the pack in the quest for the title. Betsee Parker’s Enjoy The Laughter won last year’s top model and champion under saddle classes, and that German Riding Pony is on top with 525 points and Taylor St. Jacques in the irons. St. Jacques already has a reserve title in the bank she earned on Elegance in the medium division. Westside is just six points behind, with Emma Kurtz up, and Kurtz already has two 2013 Pony Finals championship ribbons. The rest of the pack trails by 20 points, but jumping has a double co-efficient, so no one has the title wrapped up. After that championship, the top movers across the show grounds will go head-to-head in the champion under saddle class. There’s no top model this year.