Summer showers could not dampen competitors’ spirits on the final day of the 2018 National Dressage Pony Cup (NDPC) & Small Horse Championships at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Ill., where a quality group of ponies gathered for the NDPC Dressage Sport Horse Breeding Championships classes.
A Pony Cup first-timer, 17-year-old Daphne Bigelow of Lemont, Ill. had already found success with her Connemara-cross mare Kiss Me Kate as they earned the NDPC Third Level Young Rider Championship earlier in the weekend. Even though up she’d never participated in a sport horse breeding class before, Bigelow decided to try something new and presented her elegant mare in hand for judge Carter Bass. Her efforts were handsomely rewarded as Kiss Me Kate (Tre Awain Irish Sweeps x Hillside Elizabeth by Tre Awain DeValera, bred in Kansas, USA by Eileen Berkley) earned not only the NDPC Pony Mare Championship, but the Mature Horse Championship and overall Grand Championship as well with a top score of 71.050%.
“I had decided to enter the Pony Cup this year because I just think the whole concept of it is such a great idea,” Bigelow explained. “So I was looking through the prize list and noticed these sport horse breeding classes for ponies and thought, ‘she’s in super shape for being 22 years old and is well-mannered on the ground, so why not give it a try?’. So a friend from our barn helped us practice standing for the judge and running the triangle, and the whole process ended up being super fun. We had no expectations, so I couldn’t believe it when they kept announcing Kate as the winner of each division and then calling us back in for the next round. I know I have a wonderful pony but I never thought we’d end up doing this well. What an amazing experience it was!”
Even though Bigelow is now heading off for her first semester at college, she hopes to return to the Pony Cup next year to present a new freestyle. “I would love to do the Pony Cup again,” she emphasized. “It has such great energy and the whole show was just incredible and fun. Everyone there was so nice and I felt like there was a wonderful camaraderie among the competitors. If at all possible, we will definitely be back.”
Other big winners in the NDPC Sport Horse Breeding division included Jill McNicol’s Connemara stallion Blue Ridge Monroe (Moxley Duncan x Hayselden Persephone by Hayselden Bacchus, bred in Virginia, USA by Katherine Grayson Wilkins) who was presented by Tracy Hendricks for a score of 71.050% to claim the NDPC Stallion Championship. The NDPC Filly Championship went to the three-year-old AWR filly Fairy Gold (Clanfair Goldrush x Wicklyn Simply Irresistible by Glannant Scarab) owned and bred in Missouri (USA) by Amelia Buckemper (69.025%), while with a score of 72.525%, the NDPC Colt/Gelding Championship as well as the Young Pony Championship was earned by the three-year-old German Riding Pony gelding CGF Mischief Managed (Manchester City x CGF Ella) owned and bred in Minnesota (USA) by Megan Connelly of Connaught Green Farm.
In the NDPC Young Pony Futurity, rising stars from a variety of breeds were on display. In the four-year-old division, German Riding Pony gelding Golden Charmant (Golden State x Cadence by Beaujolais, bred and owned by Stonegate Equestrian, LLC of Wisconsin, USA) trotted to victory with Katie Foster in the saddle, earning an average of 70.306% for their Training Level tests.
Just two years ago, Lisa Lindholm’s Fell Pony Lunesdale Captain (Lunesdale Warlord x Lunesdale Black Queen by Lunesdale Mountain Mist, bred in Great Britain by Bert & Carole Morland) may be been running across the northern English countryside as a semi-feral youngster, but now he’s a dressage champion. With rider Kate Mikulay, the black gelding rose to the top of the five-year-old (First Level) standings with 63.075%, just edging out reserve champion Wildwynn Wesley (Welsh gelding, Wynnbrook Starburst x Lane’s Snow Queen by NPF Bryn Rowan, bred in North Carolina, USA by Leigh Smith) who earned 62.404% with owner/rider Katie Miller.
Competition in the six-year-old Futurity division came right down to the wire with top placings separated by only two-tenths of a point after two rounds of competition. Ultimately emerging as the victor with an overall average of 66.575% at Second Level was Katie O’Brien’s New Forest Pony gelding Wrolex (Wasabi x Hoppenhof’s Silvia by Nieuwmoeds Patrick, bred in Pennsylvania, USA by Lesley Feakins) ridden by Karri McFadden. Finishing a close second with 66.334% was the half-Arabian mare Donna Elena (Don Caruso x Emiliana by GA Suede +//, bred in Texas, USA by Karen Wesche) with owner/rider Kerry Johnson-Miljan.
Reflecting on her experience as one of the judges officiating for this year’s Pony Cup, Ida Noriss (USEF “S” judge) was excited about what she saw at Lamplight. “What a great group of competitors we had this weekend,” she said. “It was interesting and unusual to see so many different breeds all together in one place, with classes full of talented, athletic ponies from all over the country going head-to-head. Not only that, there seemed to truly be an electric excitement on the grounds and in the arenas; but it was also heartwarming to see the competitors having so much fun, forming new friendships, and cheering each other on. I was just thrilled to be involved with it.”
To find out more information about the National Dressage Pony Cup programs and see a complete list of division and breed champions from this year’s competition, visit the NDPC website at www.dressageponycup.com and visit their Facebook page.
Photos by Jennifer M. Keeler