When it comes to ponies and their jockeys, you’d be hard-pressed to find a pair with more show ring accolades than Maddie Tosh and Storyteller. Individually, they’ve both amassed records that will crash your computer (speaking from personal experience).
Tosh has earned USEF Horse Of The Year honors with three different ponies: Flashback, Cozy Up and Bit Of Love. Betsee Parker has upped Tosh’s resume by providing her the rides on numerous ponies and horses. She’s earned a tricolor at both the Pennsylvania National and Washington International (District of Columbia) on Parker’s Baroness Of Locheil and Bit Of Love respectively. In addition, she’s been reserve champion at Devon (Pennsylvania) in the small pony hunters, first on Bit Of Love and then on Parker’s Love Me Tender. And in 2019 at the USEF Pony Finals (Kentucky), after winning the small pony championship the year before on Bit Of Love, she defended her title and more, earning the grand pony honors on the small and then the grand green pony honors on the Baroness Of Locheil.
Storyteller, a 17-year-old German Sport Pony, has cemented his name in pony history with a variety of riders. He has a grand pony title from Devon, accomplished with Grace Debney in 2018, as well as two reserve championships in the large ponies, with Mimi Gochman and Caroline Signorino. In addition, he helped Taylor St. Jacques earn the Best Rider On A Pony distinction in 2015. He won the grand pony honors at Pony Finals with Gochman in 2016. In addition to winning two grand pony titles at Washington and a large pony championship at the Pennsylvania National, he has helped three different riders win the WIHS Pony Equitation Classic.
And yes, that is all individually. But this year, these two forces have united, and even with an abbreviated show season, they’ve already claimed a circuit championship at HITS Ocala (Florida) in the large pony division.
“Betsee Parker bought him, which I’m so grateful for—that was such an amazing opportunity,” said Tosh. “He’s definitely so well-known, but I felt pretty confident that we were kind of going to be a good pair. I got to ride him at Washington—I got to just jump like four jumps, and it went really well. So then I kind of was like, ‘OK I think it will be good.’ ”
Without further ado, we bring you the first Pony Paddock with Maddie Tosh and Storyteller.
Hometown: Milton, Georgia
Trainer: Hunt Tosh (her dad)
What was the first horse experience that got you hooked?
I’ve kind of always been hooked in because of my dad, so really just going to all the big shows and watching him at Devon and stuff—always when I was little it inspired me to do it.
Who is your biggest role model?
Definitely my dad because he’s such a good rider, and you can never really see what he’s doing. He just always makes everything look so smooth.
If you could ride any horse or pony in the world, who would it be?
Honestly, the fact that I can ride [Betsee Parker’s] Cold Harbor right now is amazing. Ever since I was little, I always wanted to be able to ride him. He’s kind of the dream. Ever since my dad had him, he’s always been my favorite. When I was a baby, I was always like, “He’s going to be mine one day. I’m going to ride him one day.” And now I actually get to ride him, so it’s amazing.
What is your favorite barn chore?
Definitely being hands on with the horses—so grooming them or checking on them and getting to learn their personalities.
I clean tack a lot, but I don’t like cleaning tack.
Do you have any good luck charms?
My unicorn show shirt is lucky. I always wear it on the first day of every horse show. And I have a couple pairs of socks that I always wear.
Whenever [my dog Maggie] comes to the ring, it goes really well. She’s kind of my good luck charm.
What is your favorite thing about Storyteller?
He has such a good personality. He’s so funny in the barn, and he always looks so happy. He’s just a lot of fun to ride. Whenever you give him a treat, he puts his lip up and sticks his tongue out at you. When you walk by his stall, he cocks his head to get attention. He always looks so happy to see people. He has a stall with a big window so he can watch all the people walk by because everyone wants to pet him.
Riding without stirrups: love it or hate it?
It is obviously not the most fun thing, but it definitely helps me, so I try to do it every day on my equitation horse.
What has been your most memorable show?
Definitely Pony Finals 2019—that was amazing. Things just kept getting better and better. I was grand green and grand regular. That was awesome.
What is the most embarrassing horse show moment you’ve had?
My first show in the short stirrup. I had the most perfect pony; she was such a good girl. I was cantering across the middle—it was the second jump that I’d ever done in the short stirrup on the way to the single oxer. And apparently I wasn’t aiming anywhere near the jump, so then she didn’t jump it. I had thought that she ran out, and I got so upset and so scared.
I was freaking out. I was like, “I can’t believe she did that.” And my dad was trying to explain to me that it was not her fault.
Do you typically eat breakfast?
No, I never—I hate eating breakfast. I hardly ever eat breakfast.
What is your favorite food to treat yourself with?
I really like ice cream. I like mint chocolate chip the best.
What is Storyteller’s favorite treat?
Snaks 5th Avenchew
What is something not a lot of people know about you?
When I first started riding, I definitely was always really scared. Then over time I kind of gained confidence. But when I first [started], like in the short stirrup, I was really nervous the whole time.
Does Storyteller have any naughty habits?
He can definitely be a little spicy sometimes. He can be a little sassy. But that’s kind of every once in a while. He’ll be a little sassy and then other than that he’s perfect. When he’s fresh every once in a while, he’ll do a little buck, and he’ll play around, but that’s pretty much it.
If your trainer could put a sign between your pony’s ears with the thing they tell you the most, what would it say?
My dad always says to “do what I know how to do”—like don’t overthink things. And “to not pull to the first jump”—not go too slow to the first jump.
What is your favorite book?
I had to read “Hatchet” in school recently, and I liked that.
What is your favorite movie?
I like the [2017 release of] “Beauty And The Beast.”
Do you do home school, online school or bricks-and-mortar school?
I go to school, but it is a school called Rivers Academy that’s for kids that do other things, so it’s only three days a week from 8-12, and they’re really good about me missing. So they don’t mind me missing for shows.
What is your favorite subject?
I like history. I just like learning about history in general.
What is your favorite thing to do with friends?
We like to foot jump [jump fences on foot] and just to hang out.
What is the goal you most want to accomplish on Storyteller?
I was looking forward to Devon, but now there’s no Devon, so hopefully to do really well at Pony Finals and indoors.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Be a professional for sure.
What is a riding challenge you’ve overcome?
Definitely moving onto horses. I was nervous to do that, but now I feel really comfortable on horses. I did [Betsee Parker’s] Gotham first, and I did him in the children’s for a year and then juniors now. But he kind of showed me the way.
How often do you see your ponies?
I see them every day; our house is on the farm.
What do you do when you’re not riding?
I hang out with the ponies a lot and hang out with my friends. I have a mini, so I play with my mini a lot. We got him from [the Peeps Foundation]. The Peeps Foundation got him from a lady in south Georgia that could not take care of him anymore. He’s so cute. He’s so perfect. His name is Whoopie Pie.
If Storyteller were a person, who would he be?
He would definitely be some sort of movie star. I’m not sure who, but he never is dirty. He always keeps his stuff really clean, and he definitely knows how handsome he is. He thinks he’s a king.
What do you do with your ponies during the downtime in between shows?
There used to be a golf course that backed up to our farm. Then the city bought it, so now it’s just green space. We can take the ponies out there and trail ride them on what used to be the golf course, which is really fun. There are little lakes and ponds; they like that.
Of the ponies you’ve ridden, which one is your favorite?
I obviously love them all so much, but Bit Of Love definitely has a special place in my heart. He did so much for me. My big wins were on him. He’s retired in Virginia at Betsee Parker’s farm Huntland.
Which pony taught you the most?
I think both Bit Of Love and Flashback have taught me a lot. Flashback was one of my first smalls, and he took me to my first Devon and my first indoors and all of that.