Articles: Horse News
Grand Pony Hunter Championship Title Goes to Meredith Darst and Enchanted
Forest at 2011 USEF Pony Finals
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Lexington, KY - August 13, 2011 - The fifth day of the 2011 United States
Equestrian Federation Pony Finals was warm and sunny as the Large Pony
Hunter Over Fences kicked off the day in the Walnut Ring. For the third year
in a row, For The Laughter claimed the Overall Large Pony Hunter
Championship, this time with Meredith Darst in the irons. As the USEF
National Hunter Pony Championships presented by Sallee Horse Vans came to a
close, the Grand Hunter Pony Championship title was awarded to Darst and
Enchanted Forest for their efforts in the Medium Pony Hunter division
earlier in the week. The final event of the day was the Individual Pony
Jumper Finals where Julia Curtis and The Waterboy jumped to the championship
Earlier this week, Meredith Darst and Enchanted Forest, owned by Dr. Betsee
Parker of Middleburg, VA, had an incredible performance in the Medium Pony
Hunter division. They were in the lead going into the over fences phase and
with a beautiful trip they scored the blue ribbon prize and were eventually
presented with the Overall Medium Pony Hunter Championship. The Large Pony
Hunters were the last to compete this week, but Darst and Enchanted Forest's
excellent effort prevailed and they scored the Grand Hunter Pony
Championship. The duo was awarded the International Jumping Derby Perpetual
Trophy, and also has the "Trip of the Show."
"Enchanted Forest has been really good," smiled 13-year-old Darst. "I
started to ride him at the beginning of WEF. He has a huge stride, so I can
go really slowly, but you have to sit up a little bit at the jump because he
likes the gap. He has easy lead changes and his canter is very
comfortable. Enchanted Forest has been there and done that, so he's pretty
made, plus he's very pretty and moves very nicely."
The main highlight in the Walnut Ring today was the Large Pony
Hunters. Darst and For The Laughter, also owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, were
the winners of yesterday's Model and Under Saddle phases, and held the lead
going into today's competition. The pair had an unlucky rub at the first
fence but still received good scores to place tenth in the final
phase. Their consistent performance over the last two days earned them the
Overall Large Pony Hunter Championship and the Pony Cross Perpetual Trophy,
donated by Stephanie Abronson and Pony Cross Farm. This is For The
Laughter's third consecutive year to earn the prestigious title, having won
it in 2009 and 2010 with Victoria Colvin in the irons. Darst and For The
Laughter were also the winners of the Overall Grand Pony Hunter Reserve
"Today was a little bit stressful coming in on top," admitted Darst. "I was
the most nervous with his lead changes because I haven't really figured them
out 100%, so I just tried to land on the correct lead. I thought my round
was really good except for my first jump. For The Laughter is really fun, he
jumps really well, and he has a really nice stride. He's quiet, you just
have to keep him in front of your leg. I feel like I focused better with the
pressure we had today."
Trainer Scott Stewart added, "Meredith rode great all week, very consistent
and obviously had a great week. It is so nerve-wracking going at the end of
everybody, but she does great under pressure, it definitely helps her. She
is very fortunate to have such excellent mounts thanks to Dr. Betsee
Parker. She knows all of the ponies very well."
Darst concluded, "It's really exciting to have done so well this year at
Pony Finals. I was pretty confident with all of my ponies. I knew that as
long as I didn't mess up we would be pretty successful."
The winner of today's Large Pony Hunter Over Fences was Daisy Farish and All
The Best, owned by Katherine Strauss of Southampton, NY, who earned scores
of 87, 85.5, and 87. Their solid performance also earned them the division's
reserve championship honors. Maria Yzerman of Bloomfield Hills, MI, and
Center Ice took home the second place prize with scores of 86, 87, and 85,
while Madison Maners riding Love and Laughter, owned by Victoria Pres of New
York, NY, received scores of 84, 82, and 84.25 to earn the third place
The next events in the Walnut Ring were the Model Championship and the Under
Saddle Championship classes where the top three finishers from each division
were invited to display their talented ponies once again. Darst and For The
Laughter claimed another blue ribbon after earning the top call in the Model
Championship, while Kirklen Petersen and Chakko, owned by Lynn Colston of
Glyndon, MD, won the Under Saddle Championship.
Today's other prestigious awards included the High Scoring registered
Purebred Welsh and the High Scoring registered Half Welsh in the Regular
Pony Hunter divisions. Dr. Betsee Parker's Elation was the High Score
Purebred Welsh, while the High Score Half Welsh was Hands Up, owned by
Jordyn Rose Freedman.
This evening, participants gathered at the Covered Arena for the Awards
Ceremony where the week's top finishers were honored once again. The awards
included the Best Turned Out Regular Pony, which went to Little Black Dress
and the Highest Scoring Auction Pony, Salvandi Coronet. The Buttons N' Bows
Sportsmanship Trophy went to Emily Regan, while Scott Stewart received the
Emerson Burr Perpetual Trophy, which is awarded to the trainer of the
Overall Grand Hunter Pony Champion and was donated by the 2000 Hunter Pony
Committee. The High Score State Team was Virginia and they received the
International Challenge Trophy. All three ponies were entries of Dr. Betsee
Parker and included Elation, Enchanted Forest, and For The Laughter.
The last event today was the Pony Jumper Individual Finals where Julia
Curtis of Villa Rica, GA, managed to conquer the competition with her third
clear round aboard The Waterboy. The pair earned the USEF Individual Pony
Jumper Gold Medal and led the final victory gallop. With the only fault
free score after all three rounds of competition Curtis was also awarded the
Swan Creek Farm Perpetual Trophy donated by William J. Moroney in honor of
Alvin and Patsy Topping. After advancing to the jump off with just four
faults from the weekend Noah Buehler of Wall, NJ, and Porsche won the Silver
Medal with a clear round in a time of 33.508 seconds. The Bronze Medal went
to Sarah Walker of Dallas, TX and La-Ti-Da, who had four faults going into
tonight's Finals and laid down a clear trip in the jump off breaking the
beam at 32.928 seconds.
"The Waterboy came out and he was perfect all week. I can't say enough good
things about him. I definitely was a little nervous today, but he has always
been there to support me throughout the courses," noted Curtis. "He has just
been perfect every day. It is heart pounding and amazing to win this."
The 2011 USEF Pony Finals will come to a close tomorrow following the
Equisport Insurance/USEF Pony Medal. The nation's top pony riders will
gather in the Covered Arena tomorrow to vie for the coveted winning title.
For more information about the 2011 USEF Pony Finals, please visit www.USEF.org.