Saturday, May. 25, 2024

Broke, Trained And Ridden To Gold: It’s all Elizabeth McDougald and Knock My Sox Off

Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 8

How many riders at U.S. Pony Finals can say they saddle broke their own pony? We know of one for sure—individual gold medalist Elizabeth McDougald and her Pony of The Americas gelding Knock My Sox Off.

“That was amazing,” McDougald said, still sitting on "Sox" dressed in his navy blue championship cooler and wearing his tricolor ribbon as she walked him out around the outside of the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. “I was not expecting to go in there and do that well. It made my day; it was amazing.”

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Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 8

How many riders at U.S. Pony Finals can say they saddle broke their own pony? We know of one for sure—individual gold medalist Elizabeth McDougald and her Pony of The Americas gelding Knock My Sox Off.

“That was amazing,” McDougald said, still sitting on “Sox” dressed in his navy blue championship cooler and wearing his tricolor ribbon as she walked him out around the outside of the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. “I was not expecting to go in there and do that well. It made my day; it was amazing.”

McDougald was crowned champion over a start field of 33 ponies, 15 of which made it all the way to the third and final day of the pony jumper championship. Riders carried forward faults they had previously accrued in the opening individual round and the team competition.

McDougald didn’t have a single fault to her name going into the individual final round, a feat only one other rider, silver medalist finisher Stephanie Don, had managed.

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McDougald was entirely unique in one thing—her on-course demeanor. When every other rider galloped around the Alltech Arena, all you heard was their pony’s hooves hitting the footing and an occasional cluck.

When McDougald was on course, her chatter to Sox was almost nonstop. Growls, get, come on, good boy—it’s a script she picked up from back when Sox was an unbroken colt.

“He listens to me, so it works; it’s just something that works with him,” McDougald said. “I broke him out myself when he was 3, and I’ve had him since he was 2. I broke him trained him rode him, and it just clicked with us.”

Now 10 years old, Sox (like any good pony jumper) has spunk in spades.

“He’s extremely sassy and nosy; he’s Mr. Personality,” McDougald said. 

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Three times McDougald has come to U.S. Pony Finals with Sox, but this was by far her most successful effort.

“It’s definitely a dream come true. It’s always been with him, and it’s never gone that well,” McDougald said of her previous trip to Pony Finals.

A jump-off sealed the deal for McDougald and Sox’s gold medal finish—she and Stephanie Don were tied with 4 faults after the individual final, and it looked like Don and her mount Joel were going to post a winning jump-off time when the very last fence came down. It left the door open for McDougald, the only other rider in the jump-off, to take the slower and wider track, and come away with a clear win.

McDougald is aging out of the pony divisions, and she has a horse at home waiting for her to move up on, but Sox will never be far away.

“He has a forever home with me,” McDougald said. “I don’t know [if I would lease him out], he’s really special, so he just stays with me.”

Find all of the Chronicle’s coverage from U.S. Pony Finals here. 

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