Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2024

Norton Enjoys Her Banner Weekend At The Maryland Horse And Pony Show

Positive thinking helps this junior rider earn multiple accolades in the hunter and equitation divisions.

For Adele Norton, the Maryland Horse And Pony Show wasn’t supposed to be about winning.

“We missed last year, but I’m glad we got to come this year,” she said. “It’s close to home and a great venue. It’s nice to come out after the first week of school and just have a good time.”
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Positive thinking helps this junior rider earn multiple accolades in the hunter and equitation divisions.

For Adele Norton, the Maryland Horse And Pony Show wasn’t supposed to be about winning.

“We missed last year, but I’m glad we got to come this year,” she said. “It’s close to home and a great venue. It’s nice to come out after the first week of school and just have a good time.”

And she should be glad she went to the show, held Sept. 11-14 at the Prince Georges Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Md. The 15-year-old won the MHSA Junior Medal Finals, earned the large junior hunter reserve championship, was best child rider on a horse and earned the Bon Bon II Sportsmanship Award.

Norton, Falls Church, Va., said that she was just glad she was able to put it all together with her large junior, Peregrine.

“With anyone else, he’d be winning everything, but he has to put up with me, and sometimes we get it, and sometimes we don’t,” she said with a laugh.

This win was especially sweet since Peregrine had a year off for an injury and has only been to a few shows since getting back to work.

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Originally a dressage horse, Peregrine had competed in one hunter show before arriving at Norton’s barn. “He was champion at his first show, and so they told us we’d better call him ‘Champion,’ because that’s what he was,” she said.

Norton was 11 at the time and learning the ropes in the junior divisions, so she and Peregrine have matured together.

Norton said that she’s also spent a lot of time learning to focus on the mental aspect of riding: “Riding is both mental and physical, and a lot of people don’t realize that. You can be as good as you can be physically, but if you don’t have the mental part, then it won’t work.”

Ever since trainer Pam Baker gave her a book about the psychology of riding, Norton said she thinks much more positively about horse showing. “I used to get so nervous, and that didn’t work at all!” she noted.

Norton said she focuses on doing the best she can in the present moment and doesn’t worry about what the consequences of a bad ride might be.

Maryland Horse And Pony Tidbits

•    Even though many people complained about the weather on Sunday—it was in the 90s— Brianna Sims, Bowie, Md., said it helped her earn the children’s small/ medium pony championship with Fit To Bee Queen.

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“‘Queenie’ has a good motor, so because it was so hot today she was totally perfect!” said Sims. She and Queenie have been champions seven out of eight times this year, and when she’s not horse showing, she and Queenie compete in hunter paces and foxhunt.

•    Samantha Schaefer, Westminster, Md., took home three of four tricolors in the junior hunter divisions. Quincy was champion in the small juniors while Corvet Z was reserve. But her favorite ride of the weekend was her “baby,” Jackson, who she said is a big teddy bear in the barn. Schaefer also rode Perfectionist, whom she describes as a big pony. In between classes, Schaefer likes to work on Sudoku puzzles. She attributed her wins to the help of her trainer, Kim Stewart, who owns two of her four rides.

“Before I go in the ring, I repeat this little thing to myself,” she explained. “I just say, ‘My horse is being really good, and I’m riding well.’ The more you say it, the more it comes true!”

Catherine Di Pietro was also riding well at the Maryland Horse And Pony Show, and the results were yet another tricolor with Whispering Hill, the large pony she’s been leasing since January. Di Pietro has earned championships at 10 shows, so it came as no surprise that she took home the children’s large pony and grand children’s pony championships.

Di Pietro, 14, Owings Mills, Md., competes out of Garrison Forest Stables, where she’s been riding since she was in first grade. “I’ve lived across the street from the barn since I was 3, so I’ve always been there!”
A freshman at Garrison Forest School, Di Pietro rides in the A-circuit program with trainer Deloise Noble-Strong.

“Casey,” whom Di Pietro leases from Emily Mendelssohn, is a 14-year-old German Riding Pony and was imported by Jim and Sari Clapperton as a 3-year-old. He’s won ribbons in the large pony hunter division at some of the biggest shows—such as Devon (Pa.), the Pennsylvania National and the Washington (D.C.) International—but Di Pietro said that’s not why she loves him. “He’s really fun to ride, and he’s really cute,” she added.

Noble-Strong said they know if Casey’s ready to show by the way he steps off the trailer. “If he drags her off the truck, then we know we have to get him ready, but if he just steps off calmly, then he’s ready to go,” she said.

As for vices, Casey has only one. “He’s a pig! He’ll eat anything I give him and always drags me to the grass when I walk by it,” said Di Pietro.

Megan Martin

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