Lauren Studstill earned a breakout win in the $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby, held during HITS Ocala IV, Feb. 5-10. Studstill piloted Rollingwoods Lemony Sticket, a 12-year-old Welsh pony (Sleight Of Hand—Rollingwoods Stuck On You, Pendock Masterpiece) she leases from Annakate Long, to the win, as well as earning ribbons in her small pony classes.
Studstill, 10, trains with Janet Cawley and Amy Center of Cavallo Farms, and junior Grace Dreyer gave her tips to help her shine in the derby ring as well. Our junior reporter, Ella Doerr, caught up with Studstill after her victory to learn about this young rider and her pony.
How long have you been riding? Since I was a toddler; [I started] about five years ago.
Does anyone in your family ride? My sister [Annalee] rides a little bit, and my mom used to ride. We have our own farm, Big Creek Farms, in Lakeland, Georgia.
Who are you riding right now? I’m riding Rollingwoods Lemony Sticket, my small regular pony, Silver Slugger, my small green pony, and I Love You A Latte, my future small green pony.
What is Rollingwoods Lemony Sticket’s barn name? She’s a mare, and we call her “Lolli.”
What is she like? She has a big personality and is fat and sassy. She likes to do the horse numbers. She has a really big motor.
What do you love most about her? Her big personality
How long have you been riding her? Six months
What is her favorite treat? German Minty Muffins
Does she have any quirks? She is really challenging to ride. She has quirks, like sometimes she will bite your finger when you give her a treat. She has to face away from the in-gate, or she won’t stand still. Sometimes she jumps like a deer. She loves to be scratched behind her ears. If you don’t scratch her then she gets upset.
What is your biggest worry? Sometimes I get nervous if there is a really big class, but something that bothers me is spiders. I don’t like spiders.
What is something you’re working on improving in your lessons? We’re trying to collect her huge, huge stride.
What are your upcoming goals? To do well at Pony Finals (Kentucky) and to qualify for Devon (Pennsylvania) and the Washington International Horse Show (District of Columbia).
Do have any pre-show routines or good luck charms? Yes, I have a teddy bear that I won at a horse show last year, and I keep it on my stall door. It’s the first thing to go on the stall and the last thing to come off. Also my best friend and I have a handshake that we do before shows.
Have you ever shown in a derby before? Once before [at the Georgia International Horse Park]
How did you prepare for the derby? I hacked around to get her really quiet, and I watched a few other ponies go.
Tell me about your winning trip. How did it feel? It got really dark for my first trip, which I got an 80 in. So they postponed the second trip till the next morning. My first trip wasn’t amazing, but my second trip was really amazing. I could tell from my first jump that it would be better than my first trip. My pony is super handy, and she nailed her first distance and rollback. I knew it was good then. I had to trot early for the trot fence because she likes to go fast and has a big stride. It was amazing, probably my best trip ever. I got an 85.
How did you celebrate? We took a picture with my cooler and my ribbon. I had to run and jump on my small green and start showing in the other ring, so I didn’t really get to celebrate.
Do you plan to do the USHJA Pony Derby Championships (Kentucky) this summer? Yes, I do.
Do you have any hobbies or play other sports? I like soccer, and I do ballet but not really.
What’s your favorite book or movie? I like the book “Wonder,” and I liked the movie too!
Who is a rider or a horse that you admire? I’ve always admired McLain Ward.
What do you want to do when you grow up? I want to be a lawyer because my parents are, and I want to stay a rider and maybe even a trainer.
How often do you ride and lesson? Describe your typical week? I take two to three lessons every Tuesday. I ride four to five days a week, and I ride two to three ponies each day.
Have you heard of the USHJA Horsemanship Quiz? I’d like to ask you a practice question: Name a bit. D-Ring
Ella Doerr, 16, from Avon, North Carolina, is a recipient of the USHJA Youth Leadership Award and the USHJA Foundation Gochman Family Grant. She competes in the pony hunter division and the equitation, and she keeps her ponies at home.