Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 12
While JJ Torano was sitting third in the standings after the medium green model and under saddle, he didn’t expect much from his jumping round with FPF Favor. He only showed the mare for the first time in June, so he just wanted to give her a good ride.
“I was just hoping to get around, and she would be good and go around nicely. And I picked up the canter, and all the jumps just ended up showing up, and I found all the distances as I jumped around,” said Torano. “It ended up being a great round.”
Far exceeding his expectations, their round was good enough to take the win in the over fences and boost them to the division championship over Emi Richard and Speaking Terms. They also took the grand green title.
“[Winning] Pony Finals, means a lot, especially for this pony, because she’s green. [It was] only her first [big show] in her life,” he said.
Torano, 12, has been busy this week with a pony in each of the six hunter sections. He has earned good placings, but this was his first win of the week.
“The other ones, I was kind of expecting it [to go well],” he said. “And I think I kind of almost was jinxing myself a little bit. I was doing pretty good with all of them, but with her, I just thought ‘Hope for the best,’ and she went great.”
Torano, Wellington, Florida, rides with his parents, grand prix show jumper Jimmy Torano and amateur Danielle Torano. While some riders rather to train with someone else, JJ said he actually prefers riding with his parents.
“I like it way more than riding with the other trainer because I can tell them things when I’m home,” he said. “I can talk to them about my courses, rounds, everything.”
From Eventing To Pony Finals Tricolor
Just a few months ago, Higher Love had never won a hunter ribbon. In fact he’d never seen a hunter jump. Earlier this year, the 8-year-old Welsh Pony Cross (Goldencoast Diamant—Goldencoast Esmeralda) was out on a cross-country course, conquering tables, ditches and logs in Finland.
But when the Lignelli family saw a video of “Pipa,” they could see his potential.
“We just trusted the process, and we got him,” said Alexa Elle Lignelli. “I rode him the first time when he came over, and I just knew there was something there. I jumped this rolltop vertical, and he just fired with his legs. He jumped it incredible. Since then he’s really just progressed, and I started showing him, and five shows in he won Pony Finals.”
Lignelli and Pipa sat fifth after the model and under saddle in the large green pony division, but with a smooth and solid round over the fences, the pair walked away with the championship over Trinity Hall and Twinkle Toes and also earned the overall reserve green title.
“I loved the course for him,” she said. “He goes very lopey. It’s all based on pace with him. If you set the pace it comes up super nice for him. It was really a great first jump, and that bending [line] I just kind of took my time. I didn’t want to rush it; I didn’t know what lead he was going to land at the in, so it was almost like improvise, see what was going to happen. He opened up his right side, landed right, so then I just decided to do the outside oxer, and then he landed left and was great. I thought the rest of it, the lines were nice, and he just cantered right up there, and he was super great.”
The Lignelli family initially purchased Pipa for Alexa’s younger sister Agatha to show, but once they realized how green he was, Alexa took the reins to help him gain experience. She rides with Evan Coluccio, and he’s been helping her get the pony to open his stride and relax.
“He kind of gets stubby off the ground sometimes, and we just wanted him to kind of relax and get loose in his shoulder,” said the 15-year-old from New York City. “He goes so nicely when he lopes like that.”
Useful links and information:
- All of the Chronicle’s Pony Finals online coverage, with behind-the-scenes stories, lovely photos and more!
- The complete schedule of classes
- Livestreaming from USEFNetwork
- The USEF Pony Finals official website
- Links to daily results
- Don’t forget to follow the Chronicle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Chronofhorse
- We will have full analysis of the competition in the Sept. 5 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine