Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 9
Evelyn Walker had a lot of pressure riding on her tiny 10-year-old shoulders going into the ring for the small green pony over fences class. She had won the model and taken second in the hack, so going into the final over fences round she was in the overall lead. As the final pony in the ring, all fellow riders, parents and spectators were on hand to see if she could defend the title.
But what was Walker thinking about? The possibility of winning, sure, but Walker has an old soul’s outlook on the whole endeavor.
“It’s definitely not worth getting overwhelmed,” Walker said. “Because it’s just about having fun, and trying your best.”
Walker and Captain Crunch’s best just happened to be better than the rest—they placed fourth over fences but their commanding lead from the previous day held to take the championship tricolor in the small green pony division, marking Walker’s first win after coming to Pony Finals for the past three years. Walker rides with Michael Savage in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and has been paired with “Neptune” for a year and a half.
“He’s really sweet; he’s definitely got a personality,” Walker said. “He’s really kind and gentle, and when I come in his stall he nickers at me. It’s great.”
It’s slightly unusual that Neptune’s show name has nothing to do with his barn name. Walker came up with it herself, but it’s not due to an affinity for the sugary cereal.
“It actually took us a long time to make up that name,” Walker said. “And I don’t actually think I’ve ever had Captain Crunch.”
Horses run in Walker’s family—her mother trail rides western horses, and her older sister competes in the children’s hunters. Walker has been riding since she was 3, but English riding is more her speed.
“I like the thrill of jumping, and some days I go out on the trail with [my mom], so I get the best of both of them,” Evelyn said.
Walker was diligent to acknowledge her groom, Jorge Huerta, who was on hand to celebrate with Evelyn when she came out of ring with her ribbon.
“I want to give a special thank you to my groom Jorge, because he turns both of my ponies out so beautifully,” Evelyn said.
Libbie Gordon And Childs Play Hot Topic Take Large Pony Title
It doesn’t get much cuter than a plump black pony with lots of chrome jumping around as cute as a button. When you add in an adept pilot like Libbie Gordon, it’s not just cute—it’s a winning combination.
Gordon guided Childs Play Hot Topic to the top of the large regular pony division to take the championship tricolor at USEF Pony Finals.
“It feels really good, it still hasn’t really sunk in yet but I’m really excited,” Gordon, 14, said with a smile.
Gordon of Statesville, N.C., has been paired up with “Hottie” since February of this year, and their top finish marks Gordon’s first win at Pony Finals after five years of attending the championship.
“She’s one of the sweetest ponies ever; she has a great personality to ride and in the barn,” Gordon said. “She’s a mare, so she likes her personal space. Her barn name is Hottie and she acts like one, but everyone loves her.”
The 11-year-old half-Welsh by Smoke Tree Silver Dragon was sitting in fourth overall after the model and under-saddle phases before moving up to scoop up the win.
“I feel like she just wants to help you out a lot and that’s what makes her really special,” Gordon said. “She wants to win as much as everyone else does and that really helps a lot.”
Gordon has three other ponies to show later in the week at USEF Pony Finals.