Monday, Sep. 25, 2023

Golden Bids A Grand Farewell To Royalist At Devon



Devon, Pa.—May 27

Heading into the final class of the large pony hunters at the Devon Horse Show, Vivian Golden knew that it would be her last class ever on Royalist before that pony went on to a new rider. And she found the perfect way to bid farewell: by laying down a stellar round that earned a 94, the highest score of any pony all weekend.

That winning stake round clinched the large pony hunter and grand pony hunter championships for owner Betsee Parker. Take 3 LLC’s Goldmark and Lily Epstein topped this morning’s handy class with a 93 to secure the reserve championship. The judges also recognized Epstein as the Best Child Rider on a Pony.

Royalist and Vivian Golden. Mollie Bailey Photos

Golden, who also won the pony sportsmanship award, has been showing Royalist, a 9-year-old German Riding Pony (Cappucino Royale G—Valido’s B Sunshine) since the start of the 2022 season when he was still a green pony.

“Since he’s been a green pony he’s always been pretty simple,” she said. “He’s definitely developed and he’s gotten much easier for me, especially me knowing him a lot more from when we first started.

“He’s very fun,” she continued. “He has such a good rhythm it’s amazing to ride. He has the coolest jumping feeling. It’s like you can see anything on him. And when you’re going to the jumps it feels like he’ll go whenever you need to, he’ll turn wherever you want. He doesn’t care. He’s pretty easygoing.”

Royalist and Vivian Golden.

Parker said she’s seen “Roy” develop as well under Golden’s saddle.

“I think the issue with him was he would look so beautiful going around but he would tend to get one element wrong, whether it was rubbing one jump, or [missing] the flying lead change, or a little spook or whatever the one element it was, that would lose it,” she said. “You could see him rising, and you could see the judges wanted to use him, but it took him some time to learn to do every single element correctly.”

Roy is in training with Scott Stewart at his Rivers Edge in Flemington, New Jersey, and Golden, 14, travels from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, to train with him several times a month. She usually brings a horse or two of her own as well, and she relies on Amanda Lyerly for training at home.

Goldmark and Lily Epstein.

Roy will head to Heritage Farm for a new young rider to take over the reins.

“The only reason that I am selling him is because I’m getting to the age where I have to cut back a little bit,” said Parker. “But he ended very nicely for our team here and Vivian has trained him very well and Scott has done a brilliant job, as he does.”

Lily Epstein.

A Blue Debut


Kathryn Padilla has only been riding small pony Celebration since the beginning of 2023, but she didn’t waste any time making an impression at Devon. The two earned blue ribbons in two of yesterday’s classes—the small pony conformation over fences and the small pony under saddle—to help boost her to champion over Hidden Ridge LLC’s EMC Enjoy and Sienna Rossano.

Celebration and Kathryn Padilla.

Padilla, 11, took over the ride on “Squiggles”—named after his wiggly blaze—from her sister Lauren Padilla. She said at home she works on keeping him straight.

“At home I usually practice with distances and measuring in the lines and bareback, a lot of no stirrups and bareback,” she said. “I sometimes jump Squiggles bareback.

“My favorite thing about Squiggles is probably his trot because it’s like floating on clouds,” she added.

Celebration and Kathryn Padilla.

Squiggles, a 12-year-old Welsh (Cadlan Valley Imperial—Bronheulog Sun Shimmer), lives at the Padilla family farm near their home in Palos Verdes, California, and Kathryn meets up with trainer Christa Endicott, who’s based in Rancho Santa Fe, California, every two weeks for lessons and at horse shows.

“She’s a really good student and she’s competitive, so she’s a great listener and she picks up on things and she’s a great rider,” said Endicott.  

Kathryn was thrilled with her championship, but even more excited to compete in the pony hunt teams competition, as Lauren was on the winning team last year.

“I was a little bit nervous,” she said of showing in the smalls. “I didn’t think I was going to be champion but I was crossing my fingers that I was going to be.”

Sienna Rossano and EMC Enjoy.

Endicott was thrilled to see Kathryn excel at her first East Coast championship.

“I think Kathryn was really accurate,” she said. “The jumps were soft and beautiful, and pony travels the ground in a really pretty way and looks through the bridle beautifully. And I think just the overall picture [is beautiful]. Kathryn is really put together, she has a beautiful position. She’s polished up there and she’s accurate and I think it stood out amongst the rest. The pony has a huge stride and can go slow but still get up the lines, and with the under saddle he’s amazing. The trot is amazing—I’ve never seen anything like it.”

On Your Mark Hits The Target

Katherine “Pippa” Mercer came to Devon hoping to earn a blue ribbon, and she achieved that and more, riding On Your Mark to the medium pony hunter title for Sweet Oak Farm.


“I think we came to Devon with some really big expectations,” said trainer Ali Sweetnam. “She’s had a very good year so I think it’s been amazing that she’s been able to keep her head and really deliver.”

Pippa Mercer and On Your Mark.

After earning third and sixth yesterday over fences, today they earned second in the handy and won the stake with a score of 90 to clinch the title over Jet Equestrian Group’s Tristan and J.J. Torano.

Mercer, 12, started riding On Your Mark just after the fall indoor circuit last year.

Pippa Mercer and On Your Mark.

“He’s weird and really easy at the same time,” said Mercer, Wellington, Florida. “He’ll spook at some things but not at others. But he’s really easy to find the distances on [and] it didn’t take long to be able to have good rounds together.”

In lessons with her home trainer Savannah Talcott, Mercer works on straightness with the pony, and handling his occasional spook.

Tristan and J.J. Torano.

Mercer has been working with Sweetnam since she was 2 and starting on a leadline.

“I warned her mom when she was 4 and we were doing walk trot that she was in big trouble,” said Sweetnam.

“I love this pony,” she added. “I’ve owned him for a long time. He’s been great. He’s delivered for everyone that’s ridden him. He’s our heart pony.”

Now that she’s conquered her favorite horse show—Mercer also earned the Carolyn L. Havens Memorial Challenge Cup for riding her small pony Clovermeade Pop Secret to the best small or medium pony handy round—she’s got her sights focused on the upcoming pony derby at Split Rock (Kentucky). Then they’ll spend the beginning of the summer gearing up for USEF Pony Finals (Kentucky), where she’ll ride the 15-year-old Welsh (Gayfields Comin’ Up Roses—Hillcrest’s Jewel of the Nile) in the USEF Pony Medal Final.

Full Results

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Don’t forget to pick up copies of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine. Junior Weekend coverage will be found in the June 12 & 19 issue, and coverage of Senior Week will be in the June 26 issue.



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