Zarnegin Wins An ‘Accidental’ Championship At USEF Pony Finals

Aug 13, 2021 - 8:16 AM

Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 12

When Lauren Zarnegin came to USEF Pony Finals, she wasn’t aiming to win a tricolor in the division. After all, it was only her second time showing Rollingwoods Knee Deep and her very first time riding in the regular small pony hunter division.

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Lauren Zarnegin competed in her first small pony hunter over fences class at USEF Pony Finals, winning the entire division with Rollingwoods Knee Deep. Mollie Bailey Photos

“We weren’t even sure until yesterday that we were actually going to jump because we didn’t want to put any extra pressure on Lauren because it’s a new partnership,”  her trainer Traci Brooks said. “She did the short stirrup last week. We did the model and the hack, we were happy if that was all we did. And we did some [ticketed warm-up rounds] and jumped around, and they were so good, and we said, ‘OK, let’s just do it. Let’s just see how we do. We don’t care if you jump one jump and come out, we just want you to go in and start the process.’ And we know how wonderful ‘Henry’ is and she was in good hands, and we knew no matter what she would be safe.

“We just wanted her to ride to plan and have fun and be safe and give him a pat and go home. That was it. It was an accident that we won.”

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Lauren Zarnegin got a big hug from her mom when she realized she won, while trainer Traci Brooks (right) was also overwhelmed with happiness.

Zarnegin just started leasing the 19-year-old Welsh pony (JD Cops And Robbers—Rollingwoods Lorna Doone) from the Lignelli family in July, but she and Henry clicked from the beginning.

“He’s been a really great pony so far; he’s pretty easy to bond with,” said Zarnegin, Los Angeles. “He’s awesome, and I’m so thankful to be able to ride him.”

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Elle Boyd and Jill Shulman’s Secret Crush put in a strong jumping round to leapfrog up the standings into the reserve championship slot.

“It means a lot [to win here],” she continued. “It doesn’t even feel real. I’m just really excited and really excited to take a win back home to California.”

Zarnegin, 12, said she was especially nervous heading into yesterday’s under saddle class knowing that she was mounted on a great mover. She placed eighth in that class and 30th in the model to put her in 11th overall heading into today’s over fences class. She and Henry laid down a solid round that put her in third, good enough to boost her to the top of the division and a narrow victory over Jill Shulman’s Secret Crush and Elle Boyd.

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Elle Boyd thanked Secret Crush for a great round.

Zarnegin has been training with Brooks on and off since 2018 Pony Finals, where she only competed in the model and under saddle classes.

“Lauren is amazing,” Brooks said. “She’s a great student; she studies very hard. She tries very hard all the time. She’s very serious. She’s a good statistician. She knows all the ponies and all the riders.”

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Sienna Rossano and Reidell Day Dream finished third overall in the small pony division.
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In the Kentucky Horse Park, horses rule supreme, and even the police officers are mounted.
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Collin Sweetnam guided Mr. Magoo to a great small pony over fences round that earned them blue.
There were plenty of trainers and riders out for the small pony over fences course walk.
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The longest line at Pony Finals isn’t for the ice cream, it’s for the farrier on under saddle day.
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Clovermeade Pop Secret finished fourth overall in the small pony division with Katherine Mercer.
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There were plenty of supporters out eager to cheer on their favorite ponies.

Want more Pony Finals? We’ve got stories about special competitors here. You can find results at Plus make sure you’re following The Chronicle of the Horse on social media @chronofhorse.


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