Harrisburg, Pa.—Oct. 14
Heading into this year’s indoors season, Ella Endzweig had modest goals.
“Last year I didn’t have the best indoors season, so I was just kind of hoping to have a better indoors season,” she said. “There wasn’t really pressure.”
That attitude paid off when Endzweig kept her cool to win the small pony hunter and grand pony hunter championships with Jill Shulman’s Secret Crush at the Pennsylvania National. So Enchanted and Kenzie Smith won the reserve small pony title.
Endzweig, a 12-year-old from Palm Beach, Florida, piloted the 10-year-old Welsh cross (Farnley Belshazzar—Fox Ridge Cadence) to second in the small pony conformation class and blue in the handy yesterday. Heading into today’s final over fences class she felt her cool start to melt.
“Today I was kind of nervous, because I didn’t want to mess up, because I knew I had a chance at being champion,” she said. “My trainer tells me to breathe a lot, because I don’t really like to.”
Endzweig did just that, securing the red ribbon with a score of 87.
“She likes when you can be off her mouth, and she kind of just helps you with the distances,” she said. “Even when it’s a little long she’ll get there. And then if it’s a little short she’ll put it in really well.”
“Belle” originally was a mount for Endzweig’s twin sister, Luca, three years ago but Ella took over the reins before too long.
“She is an old pro,” said Ella’s trainer Kyla Makhloghi of Belle. “Ella’s done a lot of work with her. Kids before her have done a lot of work with her, too. It’s taken them a while to develop a partnership, but that pony makes our job easy. And I think the pony loves it as much as the kids do. She’s a competitor as well.”
Ella was among many riders wearing a blue and white ribbon today in support of Israel after last week’s invasion by Hamas.
“Ella said she’s riding for Israel today,” said her mother, Caroline Endzweig.
“My husband’s from Israel and my whole family lives there and it’s in support of our whole family and everyone who’s there,” she added.” We can’t really do anything except support and pray for them.”
Cleverist Lives Up To His Name
Grace Stenbeck-Werner did a lot of extra work to prepare for the fall indoors season—especially plenty of no-stirrups work with trainers Michael DelFIandra and Vanessa Roman. And all that paid off when the North Salem, New York, rider and Ellie Sadrian’s Cleverist claimed the medium pony hunter title over Katherine Mercer and Goldhills As You Like It.
After placing third in the conformation class and first in the handy, Stenbeck-Werner, 10, felt a little extra pressure coming into today’s final over fences class. But she kept her cool to earn second under saddle and an 82.5 over fences—good enough for seventh place.
“I’ve been riding him for about two years now,” she said of the 21-year-old pony. “He’s pretty old but he’s perfect, and he doesn’t act like he’s too old.”
DelFlandra said that Stenbeck-Werner’s work ethic helped propel her to a consistent performance in Harrisburg.
“She’s great,” he said. “She’s a hard worker. We do no stirrups just about every day. She’s been really aiming at these horse shows this year. So it’s been really great for her just to come in here and have a great result like this. The pressure was on, and she really stepped to the occasion with that last round. She didn’t wilt, she stayed calm, she executed her plan, and it worked out.”
Roman pointed out that they don’t just work on strengthening her position.
“I think we work a lot on her mental game, on her focus in the ring and keeping it positive and keeping her moving forward in a positive way, not only on her pony but also mentally,” she said. “It’s about teaching her to be a bit pressure proof.”
Golden Makes It Two In A Row
Last year Vivian Golden left Harrisburg with the large pony hunter title, and she repeated that feat again, this time earning the championship aboard Betsee Parker’s Brixton. That pony was first in yesterday’s conformation class and second in the handy, then earned second in the under saddle. So when the pony had an uncharacteristic spook in his final over fences class to finish out of the ribbons he still claimed the division title over Redfield Farms’ Sports Illustrated and J.J. Torano.
“We were having a beautiful round, until the last line,” said Golden, 14. “He has never spooked ever before—like ever–never. He jumped up on like two legs, and he was so scared. I mean, it happens, but we had enough points coming in, so it ended up working out. He’s so reliable too, we were like ‘what happened?’ He had a bad day. It’s OK.”
Golden has had the ride on the 13-year-old German Riding Pony (Charivari—Clara) for about two years and they’ve earned major titles together over their tenure. Now Golden has started stepping up into the junior hunter ring—she was reserve champion on Rivers Edge’s Dialouet yesterday—and she said it’s been an adjustment going back and forth between ponies and full-sized mounts. She also has a busy schedule commuting from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, to train with her head trainer Amanda Lyerly in Gates Mills, Ohio, and to Scott Stewart to ride pony and junior hunters in Flemington, New Jersey, and to Katonah, New York, to train with Heritage Farm in the equitation. At home she keeps her legs strong by schooling ponies for her mother, Olivia Golden, who racks up miles driving her to her train on the weekends.
“It gets really complicated because I’m in high school this year, so I can’t miss as much school,” she said. “We split up where we go. But I try to get there before big shows so I can get ready. And then during [the Winter Equestrian Festival (Florida)] it’s a two minute dirt bike/golf cart ride away so it’s not a big deal there. Just the rest of the year is pretty complicated.”
Vivian said that she’s pretty sure this is her last year riding Brixton, and they’ll have their swan song at the upcoming Washington International (Maryland).
“When I came in here to this horse show, I wanted to be champion,” she said. “I kind of give myself some of that pressure, I have a lot of high expectations for myself. So when I don’t rise up to my expectations I get really upset with myself. So I put a little bit of pressure on myself.”
Find full results here. Check out all the Chronicle’s coverage from the Pennsylvania National here. Check out the Oct. 30 issue of the Chronicle of the Horse magazine for analysis from the competition.