St. Jacques Is All Smiles At Pony Finals

Aug 5, 2015 - 1:48 PM

Aug. 5—Lexington, Ky.  

Before Glynhafan Red Kestral’s back feet touched down following the final oxer in the regular large pony hunter over fences round at U.S. Equestrian Federation Pony Finals, Taylor St. Jacques burst into a smile. The 16-year-old showered the pony with pats as he dropped back to a trot.

More pats and smiles continued throughout the final circle and far after the pair had left the ring. The next time they entered the Walnut Ring, St. Jacques smile got even bigger (if that’s even possible). And she had plenty of reason to—the pair had topped the over fences round to win the championship, relegating yesterday’s leaders Morgan Ward and Enjoy the Laughter to reserve.

A veteran pony rider, St. Jacques knew exactly what she needed to do when she and “KP” took to the ring.

“I keep in the back of my head [that] the over fences part is the most important, so if you can lay it down in the over fences, you have a great chance if you’re in the top 20,” she said.

(KP is also a veteran of Pony Finals. Read our story about him from 2012: From The Backyard To The Walnut Ring)

“The course was really nice. The first line was a bit of an option with strides, but it kind of just rode out of stride with how fast you were going, and then the rest of the course just rode really nice,” she continued. “I just loved the course this year.”

She paired with the Half Welsh (Glynhafan Red Hawk—Disco Ragdoll) at the beginning of this year’s Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.) after the Rizvi family purchased him. But after the end of circuit, she’s only ridden the chestnut a couple of times prior to the Finals. 

“You just have to tell him he’s amazing, and he’s the best,” she said. “He loves to be told how great he is. If you tell him he’s bad he gets mad at you.”

St. Jacques has been coming to Pony Finals for the last three years, and even though her junior career is still young, this will be her last trip here.

“I’m starting to do the big eq like the USET and the Washington [International Equitation Class) and the Medal/Maclay and stuff, and I’m getting into jumpers that I really like. Try to move forward with that is kidn of hard when you still have ponies. Ponies are great though,” she finished with a grin.

As our interview came to a close, we asked St. Jacques if she was always this smiley or if it was a product of her recent ribbon haul. That question earned us another grin.

“I get told a lot, ‘Oh you’re always smiling,’ ” she said. “I just love it here—riding horses and being around the horses and all these sorts of people. I don’t always smile after courses but when I have a good round here it’s just always very exciting for me.”

Devin Seek Stays Chilly In Small Greens

Anything can happen when you’re riding a green pony. Throw in the temperature drop and threatening clouds that rolled over the Kentucky Horse Park just in time for the small green pony over fences, well, let’s just say it was a perfect storm for some unpredictable pony rounds.

After holding the ring for an hour to let the worst of a mostly wind and light rain storm blow over, it was a pony with an old and even-keeled soul who triumphed in the adverse conditions Woodlands Polar Bear and Devin Seek took the grand small green championship by less than a point over reserve finishers With Applause and Sophia Calamari.

“He could care less, he’s just the most simple minded,” Seek said. “As a green pony he could care less about things.”

A good number of riders in the class struggled to keep their mounts quiet, but not Seek. She could barely keep the 8-year-old Bibby Hill-owned pony cantering in his victory gallop around the Walnut Ring, a problem not unique to the particular circumstances.

“He’s really lazy, so a lot of the times, I’ll just go out and walk. He actually went through the water at the cross country field, and didn’t even care,”Seek said with a laugh.

Polar Bear and Seek took 15th place in the model, seventh in the under saddle and a first over fences on his way to the tricolor.

Seek expressed her gratitude for being given the rides on many of Bibby Hill’s ponies, but thinks after this year’s Pony Finals she may be handing over the reins on the tiniest of the bunch.  

“It felt awesome [to win] because this will obviously be one of my last shows, on a small for sure,” Seek, 15, said with a laugh. “So at least I ended very well.”

Want more Pony Finals action? Read about the mustang competing in the large greens on Friday and about four first time competitors.

Find all of the Chronicle’s coverage here. Don’t miss our in-depth magazine coverage in the August 24th issue. Full Pony Final results here.

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