Hormel Sisters Shine On HITS Arizona Circuit

Feb 5, 2007 - 10:00 PM

Geri Hormel had a busy year in the large pony division in 2006. She competed throughout the Southwest and began her season on the HITS Arizona Winter Circuit where she earned the large pony hunter championship aboard With Wonder. Her younger sister, Gillian, also added her own accolades to the family’s ribbon collection aboard her medium pony Tattle Tale.

The Hormels, Paradise Valley, Ariz., have immersed themselves in horses and showing. They built a barn approximately a half hour from their house, and, along with boarding a few horses, they also train with Gretchen Lof, who competes regularly in the grand prix jumpers.

“We like to show for fun, and so everything out at the barn is pretty calm. We all like to train and hang out and have a good time,” said Geri.

For their circuit title, Geri and With Wonder earned championship honors at Kachina Classic in February and were reserve champions at the Scottsdale Spring Festival in March and the Tucson Winter Classic in February. They also ranked in the top 10 for U.S. Equestrian Federation Zone 8 in the large pony division.

“I’ve had him almost two years, and I’m getting a little big for him. He’s so round. He looks like a little hippo!” said Geri, 15, of her Appaloosa-Quarter Horse gelding, affectionately known as Clay.

The 16-year-old gray is as placid a pony as any mother could hope for. “Clay’s really the sweetest pony. He’s always calm and never pushy. He’s perfect! My mom’s been thinking about starting riding, and so she’ll probably start on him,” said Geri.

Though she enjoys the pony division, Geri’s been active in other divisions as well. “I love riding ponies, but I hadn’t been riding them in over a year,” said Geri. Instead, she’d been competing on her Dutch Warmblood gelding Phantom, who she rides in the children’s hunter division.

Phantom and Geri culminated the Arizona circuit with a bang, winning the Marshall & Sterling Children’s Hunter Classic at the Arizona Desert Finals in March. From then on they were up in the ribbons at practically every show they entered. The pair had a busy November, winning ribbons at the Arizona Season Finale, the Tucson Fall Classic and the Tucson Fall Festival.

“He’s a pretty mellow guy, but every now and then he’ll have his moments,” said Geri with a laugh. “I used to prefer just riding the ponies, because I felt so much safer, you know, since they’re lower to the ground and espe-cially since Clay’s so laid back. But Phantom’s really gotten a lot more relaxed lately and so I can’t pick a favorite.”

Geri’s 12-year-old sister Gillian and her Welsh cross gelding Tattle Tale earned more than 1,000 points and finished second in the medium pony standings for Zone 8.

Geri and her sister attended the USEF Pony Finals in Kentucky last August and enjoyed the atmosphere of the prestigious event. “It was really fun and so well organized,” said Geri. “It was neat flying over the grassy fields in Kentucky, because Arizona is pretty much a desert.”

Not only did Gillian and Geri bring back fun memories of Pony Finals, they also brought back two young ponies as well. “We got them at the auction there and we’ll start showing them this spring,” said Geri.

The girls showed their ponies in California during the season, and Geri said that the atmosphere differed from Arizona and the overall level of competition was more difficult. “We showed at Pebble Beach and Del Mar, and even though it was a lot nicer there, I felt like we really had to try a lot harder than at home,” she explained.

Winning the circuit championship in Arizona proved to be especially thrilling for Geri as she and her friends attended the awards banquet. “We looked up the results online ahead of time, so I knew my standings. Even though I knew I’d won, it was so neat to have all my friends there cheering for me and taking pictures and everything,” she said.

Geri is a freshman in high school and balances studying for her honors classes and riding. Unfortunately, Clay has had a tough bout with lameness issues and will probably take the winter season off. “I was hoping he’d be better so we could do the winter circuit again this year,” she said, adding that she will continue to show Phantom in the children’s divisions on the Arizona circuit and HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, Calif.

Category: Horse Shows

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