One of the most exciting developments for this year’s National Dressage Pony Cup (NDPC) Championship Show (being held July 8-10 in Lexington, Ky.) is the addition of a showcase for young ponies and their breeders with the addition of the new NDPC Young Pony Futurity and Dressage Sport Horse Breeding classes.
Modeled after wildly-successful national and regional programs for horses which have spurred skyrocketing interest in the breeding and development of young dressage talent, the NDPC Young Pony Futurity will now endeavor to provide a similar spotlight for up-and-coming superstar ponies. With special divisions and championships for four, five, and six-year-olds, young ponies will compete at Training, First, and Second Level (respectively) as well as be eligible for U.S.-bred pony awards. One of the favorite contenders for top honors will be Melissa Dowling’s German Riding Pony Nikolas, who will be ridden by Lauren Chumley of Pittstown, N.J. This elegant pair turned heads during last year’s Pony Cup when the gelding was just four, and now return to the Kentucky Horse Park to compete for the Five-Year-Old Futurity Championship. “Nikolas is such an outstanding youngster who just gets better and better,” said Chumley. “I think it’s a really neat idea to include a futurity division in the Pony Cup as a way to expand the competition and provide an exciting new opportunity for exhibitors. I hope it will also have the same effect for ponies that these programs have had for horses in that they encourage riders and trainers to get young prospects developing on the right training path at an early age, as well as provide an added incentive to get them in the show ring. I can’t wait to present Nikolas and I’m already hoping to bring more eligible young ponies next year!”
The seven ponies that Chumley is bringing to Lexington will represent the full spectrum of dressage levels from Morgan phenom Avatar’s Jazzman (also owned by Dowling) competing at Grand Prix, to several younger mounts who to be presented as part of the debut of NDPC Dressage Sport Horse Breeding division. Among a full roster of new pony-only classes ranging from current-year foals to materiale along with Individual Breed Classes (IBC), Chumley’s entries include Liam Rowe’s Welsh pony Sham’s Chinaberry, Jill Kosek’s Fjords FMF Hershey’s Kiss and FMF Champagne, as well as presenting Nikolas under saddle in Materiale and Suitability classes. “In addition to the Futurity, I think the pony-only DSHB classes are also an excellent addition to the show,” Chumley explained. “I really believe in the mission of the National Dressage Pony Cup and want to support it in any way that I can, and so I felt like supporting these new classes would be a good step in the right direction. Plus I love the idea of a Fjord Individual Breed Class – I’ve been talking about the need for one at Dressage at Devon for years, so maybe this is a start! I like the idea of a place to showcase the individual breeds in a breed show format, but where ponies compete against their pony counterparts and don’t have to be up against huge horses. With these pony DSHB classes, the ponies can be judged among their peers for the small but amazing athletes that they are. And suitability and materiale are such great classes for young horses I definitely wanted to support those too.”
“Lauren’s sentiments are exactly what we were hoping for when we decided to take a chance and offer these new Futurity and Dressage Sport Horse Breeding divisions this year,” said Jenny Carol, founder of the National Dressage Pony Cup. “Not only are they a great opportunity for ponies and riders but also for breeders to be able to showcase what they produce, and hopefully that will have a lasting effect on enthusiasm for dressage pony breeding in this country.”
Pony fans can watch all of the action including the NDPC Futurity youngsters and the Dressage Sport Horse Breeding division beginning July 8th LIVE on the USEF Network at www.usefnetwork.com with expert commentary by FEI 5* judge Axel Steiner. To find out more information about the NDPC and how you can become involved, visit www.dressageponycup.com and visit their Facebook page.
PHOTO CAPTION & CREDIT: Lauren Chumley and Melissa Dowling’s German Riding Pony Nikolas will be one of the talented young ponies competing in the new National Dressage Pony Cup Futurity and DSHB divisions in 2016. Photo by Jennifer Keeler.