Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 11
McKayla Brombach is used to doing a lot of catch riding. And as a trainer’s kid she’s used to hopping on anything and everything, regardless of the pony’s quality.
“I always tell her, if it’s rank, it’s going to teach you something. It’s not talented, it’s going to teach you something,” said Colleen Brombach, McKayla’s mother and everyday coach. “I don’t think we’ve ever told somebody no at a horse show.”
Luckily her latest catch ride at USEF Pony Finals was a standout mount, and that pony, Charlotte Kelly’s On Tour, partnered with McKayla to win the large green pony and grand green pony championships. A Never-Ending Story and Leila Hinshaw finished as reserve large green pony.
McKayla got the opportunity to ride the 10-year-old Welsh pony (Mon Cherg Erp—Orderly Queen) when his usual rider, Amira Kettaneh, headed to FEI North American Youth Championships, which also takes place this week. Christina Muse trains the pony with help from Laura Bowery, and they first gave McKayla a leg up onto On Tour last week.
“[Last week] I didn’t do him the first day because it was super rainy so he couldn’t get the prep he needed,” said McKayla. “So I just had the two classes to go off of going into today, and obviously the ticketed [warm up]. So it was a little nerve-wracking, but he was great. He pulled through for me.
“He definitely likes a more supportive ride through the corner so once you get to the jump out can just soften on him and let him lope right up to the distance,” she added.
In addition to the two tricolors, McKayla also earned a sportsmanship award, which thrilled Colleen.
“It’s teaching them work ethic,” said Colleen. “It’s about being down there and working all day long, and both my kids work all day long. They come down, they ride, but they don’t just ride, they tack up their own horses, they untack them, they clean up around the barn, they do everything. It’s not just about riding.”
McKayla said it can be frustrating training with her mother but also rewarding in the long run because Colleen isn’t afraid to give her plenty of honest feedback.
“It pushes me to be the best because I can’t go and cry to my mom because my trainer’s being mean,” she said.
McKayla’s result was by far her best one in the seven years she’s been coming to Lexington for Pony Finals.
“She always had something that had some little quirk that she has to really manage, because she’s a trainer’s kid. I don’t have the funds to buy those nice ponies. This, all of this, it means a ton, and winning the sportsmanship—it paid off. It makes me happy.”
Qualen’s Charismagic Makes Magic
After Qualen’s Charismagic laid down a spectacular round in the medium green over fences class there were plenty of fans in the stands cheering for her. After all, before catch rider Emi Richard started on her, the mare gave rides to a slew of kids at the barn, many of whom made the trek from Wellington, Florida, to Kentucky to cheer her on.
“They were in the barn doing lessons with her, kids even smaller than her,” said trainer Liz Redding, gesturing toward a young equestrian. “They’ve all ridden the pony.”
Two years ago Richard started riding the pony, smoothing out her lead changes and adding polish to the ride.
“It’s a catch ride but I do her very often,” said Richard. “She doesn’t live at my barn; I meet up with her at horse shows, but work her at home too.”
After winning the medium green under saddle and placing 12th in the model, Richard and “Carrie” came back on top heading into the jumping.
“I was definitely pretty nervous but I knew she could do it,” said Richard.
Sure enough, the pair held it together to win the over fences portion and claim the championship for Carolex Stables over Vivian Golden and Betsee Parker’s Lady Desmond.
Richard lives in Middlefield, Connecticut, and rides with her mother, trainer Jaime Richard, at home. She does a lot of catch riding and is one of the busiest at Pony Finals, with a ride in almost every division.
“Sometimes it is [hard] because they’re all so different, but you get used to it,” said Emi.
Redding said that Emi is an ideal young rider to work with.
“Emi’s great,” she said. “She takes direction well. I knew when I started working with Carrie that we had a few things we needed to really take our time with. She’s patient but she follows direction well. She’s not one of the kids who gets on and just is going to do whatever she wants to do. She really tries to work towards a goal.”
Zone 5/8/10 Rules The Day In The Pony Jumpers
The combined team of Zone 5/8/10 claimed gold over Zone 3/4/Pony Club in the team pony jumper standings. Zone 10’s Reagan Voxman on Air Force One scored two clear rounds to anchor the team to gold. Each of the other riders—Zahara Henderson (Star Wish), Sienna Smith (Cappucino) and Madeline Kottman (Valor) contributed a clear round to help their team finish on top.
“It was a surprise for me [to go double clear] because I just got back into riding,” said Voxman, San Marino, California. “I actually broke my collarbone so I started riding again like two weeks ago. So I’m really happy with it but I don’t feel too pressured. I’m not too surprised with him, he’s a great pony and I can rely on him a lot.”
The riders will return tomorrow for the final individual round where the overall winner will be crowned.
Find full results here.
Follow along with all the Chronicle’s coverage from Pony Finals here. Be sure you’re following the Chronicle on Facebook and Instagram @chronofhorse for more. Check out the Sept. 4 issue of the magazine for more from the competition.