Friday, May. 24, 2024

Goldmark Strikes It Rich At USEF Pony Finals

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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.

Goldmark and Lily Epstein jumped to the top of the large pony division at USEF Pony Finals. Mollie Bailey Photos

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.

Trainer Hanae Leeman congratulated Lily Epstein on a great round.

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.

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Aeden Mooney piloted M’Pire to the top of the large pony over fences class and the reserve division championship.

“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.

Brooke Duffy and Only Reason finished in third.

“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.

Chic In Time and Jole Kosloske jumped to fourth.
Ivy Smith and Precious Moments finished in overall fifth.
Small pony Celebration earned the overall grand pony hunter championship at USEF Pony Finals with Kathryn Padilla; medium pony Paris Charm and Currie Cooper finished as overall reserve grand champions.

Find full results here.

Follow along with all the Chronicle’s coverage from Pony Finals here. Be sure you’re following the Chronicle on Facebook and Instagram @chronofhorse for more. Check out the Sept. 4 issue of the magazine for more from the competition.

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