The Kentucky Horse Park has long been known throughout the horse world as a destination for equestrian events, including the popular Pony Finals competition held each year for hunter/jumper enthusiasts. Now these picturesque grounds have also become the home of yet another national showcase for pony power – in dressage.
Almost 100 entries from all over the country will gather in Lexington this weekend for the National Dressage Pony Cup, held September 5-6 in conjunction with the MSEDA Dressage at the Park I & II dressage competition. Hailing from New England to south Florida, enthusiastic competitors and their small but mighty mounts will pursue $15,000 in prize money and championship honors as well as special high-point, musical freestyle, and breed awards. But the biggest goal of all is to crush stereotypes that ponies are only for youth or are limited in their ability to excel in the international sport of dressage. In fact, in addition to juniors and young riders, the field includes 30 adult amateur competitors as well as 35 open riders, all showing off their skills from Intro to Intermediaire I.
In the eight years since the National Dressage Pony Cup’s inception in 2007, the popularity of this event has skyrocketed thanks to the dedication of president and founder Jenny Carol and vice president Tracy Gross. “I just felt so strongly that I could do something about this whole ‘pony problem’ of there not being enough enthusiasm for ponies in the sport,” Carol explained. “Ponies needed a show – a great show, where they would be taken seriously for what they can do and weren’t just an afterthought. A place where they could easily get measured, and win beautiful ribbons and trophies. A show where everyone felt welcome, where the hard work and dedication to the sport were valued and appreciated, and where there was a feeling of prestige for professionals, acceptance for adult amateurs, and encouragement for the junior riders.”