Thursday, May. 23, 2024

Hometown Hero Hits A Homerun At Devon

Meg Rhodes turns a surprise gift into a winner in the pony breeding.

“I feel like I’m going through my second childhood, playing with my pony again!” Meg Rhodes said.

Kenny Wheeler showed Rhodes’ Hometown Hero to the best young pony title at the Devon Horse Show, May 22-June 1 in Devon, Pa. “I’m from the old school, back when we did everything. I was the groom at Devon, and Kenny made me come into the ring for the picture and I was wearing jeans and all dirty,” Rhodes said.
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Meg Rhodes turns a surprise gift into a winner in the pony breeding.

“I feel like I’m going through my second childhood, playing with my pony again!” Meg Rhodes said.

Kenny Wheeler showed Rhodes’ Hometown Hero to the best young pony title at the Devon Horse Show, May 22-June 1 in Devon, Pa. “I’m from the old school, back when we did everything. I was the groom at Devon, and Kenny made me come into the ring for the picture and I was wearing jeans and all dirty,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes, 48, never expected to be a contender in the pony breeding divisions. “It’s one of those things—a year ago, I certainly didn’t think ‘I’m going to buy a pony and show at Devon.’ It just kind of happened,” she said.

Last winter, while her husband, Ronnie Rhodes, was at the Keeneland Thoroughbred sales in Kentucky, she “snuck out and went pony shopping while he was gone.”

“And I found him—Richard Taylor bred him. I had really nice ponies as a kid growing up, and I knew he was special. I told my husband all about him, and he went to see him and said, ‘He really is nice.’ It’s amazing that he passed my husband’s test because he’s very critical and likes them to be very correct.”

Ronnie works for the Thoroughbred racing operation Eldon Farm.

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But Ronnie downplayed the pony’s charm. “He told me, ‘You really don’t need that pony. Another one will come along.’ But then Christmas Eve, Richard Keller played Santa Claus and delivered him. It was a nice surprise gift from Ronnie!” said Meg, who lives on a small farm in Keswick, Va.

“Homey,” a yearling, stands 13.2 hands now and Meg thinks he’ll develop into a large pony.

“He’s a really neat pony—he has a great personality. I really think he likes to win because his class was huge and he was just standing there, posing like a statue. It was like he was saying, ‘I’m going to win,’ ” she said.

“He really looks like a little horse. He’s got a refined head and he’s very Thoroughbredy looking,” said Meg of Homey, who is by the Welsh stallion Land’s End Poseidon and out of the Thoroughbred mare Parting For Home, a Danzig granddaughter.

Meg only showed Homey once—he was best young pony at the Lexington Spring Encore (Va.) in April with Ronnie showing him. “I didn’t want to show him.

I had conditioned him, trailered him, groomed him and worried about everything—I wasn’t going to hold him too.

My nerves couldn’t have taken it,” Meg said.

Ronnie couldn’t attend Devon, so Kenny Wheeler, the perennial handler of the best young horse at Devon, filled in. Wheeler is Ronnie’s uncle.

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“The thing that made me the proudest was that he behaved so well. With Kenny holding him, I wanted him to be good. Kenny’s a living legend and I didn’t want my pony embarrassing him. But he was a great boy all day long,” Meg said. “I do my own thing, but I have some very good friends that help me, like Kenny. And I appreciate them so much. No one person can do it.”

Meg doesn’t have too many plans for Homey. She might show him at the Virginia Pony Breeders Futurity on June 15.

“He’ll be for sale. Right now he’s turned out with his babysitter. I do ride in the adult amateur hunters, and I can’t afford to do both. I haven’t even shown my adult hunter this year because it’s been all about Homey. He’s cut into my funds. I’d like to show him in the futurity and then he’ll have some time to grow up and be a pony. I would love for some really nice kid to end up with him—that would be the fairy tale ending to the story,” she said.

Homey brought Wheeler his first best young pony title, but he was back on familiar territory in the best young horse judging, showing Capital Hill (Nob Hill—Pardon Me Mister) to his second consecutive title.

“He’s filled out and really developed from last year,” Wheeler said of the 3-year-old. “He’s always had a lot of quality, but now he’s more mature. He’s a beautiful mover and a lovely horse. He’s broke, but we haven’t jumped him.”

The win was an early birthday present for Wheeler, who turned 80 on May 30. “Devon has always been Kenny’s birthday, whether it’s the actual date or not,” Meg said. “When Sallie [Wheeler] was alive, she would have big party for Kenny at Devon every year.”

Molly Sorge

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