Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 12
After five years of coming to USEF Pony Finals, this year may be Lily Epstein’s last. So it tasted extra sweet when she rode Goldmark to the top of the large pony hunter division for Take 3 LLC.
Heading into the Rolex Arena she took a deep breath and tried to focus on her riding, not the pressure.
“I tried to keep it together, just go in and ride like I always do, have a rhythm, find all the jumps and take it one step at a time,” she said. “I tried to take a deep breath and stay calm.
“Before I go in the ring [trainer] Hanae [Leeman] tells me to ride on the rhythm and trust my eye, and [trainers Ali Sweetnam and Danny Arendt] told me to have fun,” she added.
Sure enough she and the 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood of unrecorded breeding nailed the over fences class, taking second place by just .2 points. Combined with a strong showing in the model and under saddle they claimed the championship; the over fences winners, M’Pire and Aeden Mooney, finished as reserve.
Epstein, 14, paired up with “Monty” at the start of the season.
“He’s a little quirky at times—he likes to nibble on you,” she said. “His personality is a little quirky, but when you go in the ring he really shows off.”
Epstein trains with Hanae Leeman during the week at home in Coral Gables, Florida, aboard her horses and meets up with Ali Sweetnam and Danny Arendt of Sweet Oak Farm, where Monty lives, on the weekends in Wellington, Florida, an hour and a half away.
“In lessons I work on keeping my rhythm, turns, counter-cantering and straightness,” she said.
Next up for Epstein? Horses. She’s hoping to focus on the equitation divisions and qualify for ASPCA Maclay Finals.
Find full results here.
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