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August 8, 2013

Sassafras Creek Snags The Medium Pony Hunter Title At USEF Pony Finals

She and Daisy Farish came into the over fences round in the lead and held on for the tricolor.

Aug. 8—Lexington, Ky.   

Awards ceremonies at USEF Pony Finals are a drawn out affair. There are 20 ribbons for both the over-fences and overall awards, not to mention daily sportsmanship awards, owner-rider awards, rosettes for top Welsh and part-Welsh awards—you get the picture. But when Daisy Farish gets Sassafras Creek back to the barn after winning the medium pony hunter championship and accepting multiple awards, she’s hardly done posing. There are another 10 minutes of iPhone photos with the Heritage Farm crew to make sure the honor is memorialized immediately on Instagram and texted to the rest of the team.

“You have to appreciate these moments—you’ll look back and realize they don’t happen very often,” says trainer Patricia Griffith while holding a smile for photo No. 378 or so.

The honor wasn’t lost on Farish. She didn’t stop grinning through the impromptu photo session, even though she won her first Best Child Rider on a Pony title at Devon (Pa.) three years ago when she was just 9. In fact, Farish felt especially moved by the award as this, her fifth year at Pony Finals, will probably be her last. While she’s only 12, she’s already focusing on stepping up to larger mounts.

“I don’t usually get nervous, but I was nervous this time,” said Farish, Versailles, Ky. “I felt like it could go either way, and there were a lot of really good riders in that class.”

Farish partnered with the Redfield Farm-owned Welsh Pony cross of unrecorded breeding a year and a half ago. Farish and “Sassy,” 14, honed what Griffith described as an “unbelievable” connection, with major wins from the likes of Washington International (D.C.), Devon (Pa.) and Capital Challenge (Md.). In Kentucky she edged out Amanda Pennington’s Elegance and Taylor St. Jacques. That pair jumped from 10th place up to the reserve overall pony hunter title after a solid over fences trip.

“People were having trouble with the last line,” said Farish. “There wasn’t really a set number [of strides], and it was set going toward the gate. We planned not to worry about the number and just ride it off your eye, and that worked out.”

Sassafras Creek’s tricolor marked Farish’s second of the competition. She’d already ridden Northwind Marin to the large green pony hunter championship for owner/breeder Prue Richardson and trainer Bill Schaub.  She hadn’t ridden that cross-bred (Small-Land Martello—Northwind Just A Laugh) much this season, but she finessed through a great round in Kentucky to take the championship over Britney Jarman’s Casanova, ridden by her sister, Aleece Jarman.

Kurtz Makes A Grand Entrance
Emma Kurtz and her mother Kris Kurtz can’t quite decide how many years she’s been coming to Pony Finals (mom votes five, but Emma’s quite sure it’s six), but one thing’s for sure: this is the best one to date. Emma earned a pair of tricolors aboard two green ponies yesterday, and the grand green and reserve grand green titles to boot.

Breeder Robin Greenwood was on hand to watch her pony, Yes It’s True, win the small green and grand green titles with Emma up. “She’s always been such a trier—she just gives you goosebumps as she goes around,” said Greenwood. “She overjumps, but always perfectly.”  

That pony was leased the week before Pony Finals by Sofia Roberts, and edged out Californian Augusta Iwasaki and Small Introduction for the small green title.

“She’s really fun. She’s not spooky, and I felt confident that she’d be able to walk in and feel comfortable,” said Emma, Hudson, Ohio.

She rode Show Me Love for Scott Stewart to the medium green and reserve grand green titles. Kirklen Peterson rode Foot Steps to the reserve medium pony title for Larry Glefke. “That one’s really lazy,” said Emma. “Before I went in the ring Scott just told me not to let him break and to stay straight.”

It’s no surprise to trainers Mike Rheinheimer and Amanda Lyerly of Madison Hills that Emma’s earned a pair of major titles, or that she leads the small division heading into tomorrow’s jumping phase on Bit Of Love, a Stewart-trained mount owned by Betsee Parker.

“She works hard—she’s at the barn all the time,” said Rheinheimer. “When you say there’s one more to ride, she never says no.”

Can’t get enough sub 14.2-hand action? Check out the news of the perfectly clean winning Zone 4 team at the USEF Pony Jumper Championships. Or read about Stone McCormick, a hardworking kid with a great attitude who’s competing in the small division.

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Ponies, Pony Finals
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