We all know that ponies wrote the book on trickery. They’re miniature, masterful manipulators, and above those cute little ears, they may wear a halo or a set of horns at any given moment. We caught up with five professionals to talk about model classes turned rodeos and over-fences classes turned over-the-ears classes.
We’ve reprinted Emily Elek’s response below. For the other four stories, check out the July 1-15, 2019 Junior & Pony Issue.
This is from [Helicon Headliner’s] green pony year, which would go back to 1991. I was 12, and it was my second Pony Finals. “Jake” was a pony that I had started showing as a 3-year-old; he was only 4 by his green year. Most of the time he was this super quiet, no longeing, giant spurs, how do you keep his energy up [type of pony]. We used to feed him bananas because they had potassium, and that was supposed to give them more energy. So, he never, ever, ever saw a longe line.
[Pony Finals] was at the state fairgrounds in Asheville, North Carolina, that year. It was an indoor coliseum ring with a big screen at the end. We went in for the model, and they had the ring set up so that it was split by a line of bushes.
They were judging the other section when we walked in, and we got about halfway down, and his head shot up. He didn’t want to walk, so I kind of dragged him down to the other end. By this point he is spinning and spooking and whirling, and I’m trying to get him to stand.
So I’m jerking on the bridle, and he’s running me over, and then he starts spinning. Then I jerk on him and back him up, and he stands up and strikes. The parents are gasping in the audience. He finally runs me over and gets loose and proceeds to take off around the coliseum, bucking, farting, his tail between his legs, running. And the tears are streaming down my face. He managed to jump the bushes, and people are cheering! Now I’m in a puddle, running after him, and he finally gets corralled so someone could catch him.
They parked me at the front of the line now. And I’m 90 percent sure it was Linda Andrisani, because it was this little female judge. She comes over to me and pats me on the shoulder and says, “It’s OK. We weren’t judging your section yet.” I’m just bawling.
They posted all of the paper results, and I remember walking up, just to go see, and I hear these two girls behind me: “Let’s see how 657 did, the one that ran around the ring!” And we weren’t last, but that was probably my most mortifying pony moment. I love this story because when kids are nervous, I’ll be like, “It probably won’t be this bad.”
He did make a comeback. For a green, he was wonderful. There was a spooky jump that all the ponies were stopping at, and he went right around. On the final day [in the Pony Medal] we made the callback. He went on to be a great pony and get ribbons at Pony Finals, Devon (Pennsylvania), and indoors in future years. He did the medium ponies until he was in his 20s and taught a ton of kids to ride.
Emily Elek started on ponies as a child, training her own mounts and breaking babies for pony breeders, including Marilyn Checki of the Hillcrest bloodline and Thalia Gentzel of the Helicon bloodline. She and her mother, Lorna Elek, began Stonewall Farm in Ixonia, Wisconsin, where she sells and leases between 80 and 100 ponies a year. She’s started some of the country’s top ponies, including Blueberry Hill, Rainbow Canyon, Hillcrest Silver Lining and Hillcrest Dancing Bear.
This is an excerpt from the article “Ask 5: What’s Your Most Embarrassing Pony Story” which appears in July 1-15, 2019 Junior & Pony Issue. If you’d like to read the article in its entirety, with stories from Patricia Griffith, Bill Schaub, Traci Brooks and Pam Baker, you can subscribe and get online access to a digital version and then enjoy a year of The Chronicle of the Horse and our lifestyle publication, Untacked. Or you can purchase a single issue or subscribe on a mobile device through our app The Chronicle of the Horse LLC.
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