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ATTACHED PHOTOS

Gold Medalist Elizabeth McDougald, Silver Medalist Stephanie Don and Bronze Medalist Sarah Davis

U.S. Pony Jumper Individual Gold Medalist Elizabeth McDougald and Knock My Sox Off

Stephanie Don and Joel

PMG_Elizabeth McDougald and Knock My Sox Off

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Elizabeth McDougald and Knock My Sox Off Claim U.S. Pony Jumper Individual Championship Title in Two-horse Jump-off

Written by: Kendall Bierer
Client: Kentucky Horse Shows LLC http://www.kentuckyhorseshows.com
Release Date: 2015-08-08

Lexington, KY - August 8, 2015 - It takes a special bond between horse and rider to be able to win a national championship. For Elizabeth McDougald of Lawton, Oklahoma, her relationship with her pony Knock My Sox Off exceeds all limitations. The 17-year-old rider from Zone 7/8 has owned her Pony of the Americas since he was a 2-year-old, both breaking and training him herself to achieve a life long dream, winning the U.S. Pony Final Individual Pony Jumper Championship title.

“That was amazing,” McDougald expressed with a smile stretching from ear to ear. “I was not expecting to go in there and do that well—it made my day.”

Competing for three years in the pony jumpers, McDougald has never stood atop the pinnacle of the podium. In 2013, an injury knocked the duo out of the Individual Championship, but the timing of their win Saturday could not have come at a more perfect time.

“This is my best result, and it is definitely a dream come true,” she said. “I have always competed on him and we have never done that well. I am 18, showing in my 17-year-old year, so this is our last time competing in the U.S. Pony Finals.”

The competition featured 15 qualified riders, who rode to the top results during the three phases of competition over the two previous show days. McDougald rode “Sox” to three consistent clear rounds, returning at the top of the order, tied with Stephanie Don and Joel, owned by Avery Kim of South Pasadena, California, with zero faults.

During the first round, Don nicked a rail for a four-fault score. The pressure was on McDougald and Sox; however, the pair had their first unlucky rail of the week, guaranteeing a jump-off for the Individual Gold.

Don returned for the short course, zipping through the obstacles with dexterity and speed. However, as they crossed the final oxer, Joel’s back leg rubbed the back rail, incurring the four faults that would leave the door open for McDougald to make her move—she jumped at the opportunity.

“I was thinking go clear, because I knew that was what would get me to where I needed to be,” McDougald explained of her plan.

Her growls could be heard across the Alltech Arena as she urged Sox through the serpentine. As the pair landed from the final oxer with all rails in place, cheers erupted. Only two strides from landing, McDougald hugged her pony, and tears began filling her eyes as the shock of winning settled on her.

McDougald began working with Sox as a 2-year-old, after receiving him from a family friend, and broke him herself when he turned 3 years old. Now, at age 10, she and the gelding have a bond that is unbreakable.

“He is extremely sassy and nosy,” McDougald laughed. “He is Mr. Personality. I learned to growl at him while training him. He listens to me, and it works. This is my last year showing him here, but he is so special, and he has a forever home with me.”

Don was awarded the silver medal for her four-fault jump-off score with Joel, while Sarah Davis and National Treasure captured the bronze.

“He is really feisty and loves jumping,” Don said of Joel, who was recently imported from Europe. “I have only been riding him for about five months, and we have been doing the 1.30m at home. Although these jumps are smaller, it is still difficult. This ring is a little smaller, too.”

For Don, the U.S. Pony Finals were all about having a good time and getting experience under her belt with her new horse.

“For the jump-off, we planned to go clear and make the tightest turns possible, as well as have a good time,” Don said. “This was worth the journey. All of the competitors are super nice and inviting. With all of them there is kind of like a giant team instead of just individual zones competing.”

A second jump-off determined the final rankings of the top six competitors, with four riders tied with 16 cumulative points. Davis posted a clear jump-off ride for the third place finish with her own National Treasure, while Wisconsin’s Maya Lovdal and Miracles Happen took the fourth place as the fastest of the four-faulters, breaking the beam in 44.127 seconds.  Hallie Rush of Tennessee aboard Sky Miles followed close behind in the fifth place on four faults, posted in 49.12 seconds. Bailey Doloff, of Maryland, and Wishlea Star Dasher rounded out the top six with a concluding eight faults.

While Saturday marked the conclusion of the Pony Hunter and Pony Jumpers, USEF Pony Finals competition continues with the Pony Medal Finals tomorrow beginning at 7 a.m. in the Alltech Arena.

To learn more about the USEF Pony Finals please visit www.ponyfinals.org. For live results, please visit www.shownet.biz.

 

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