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ATTACHED PHOTOS

Emma Kurtz and Grand All Over

Daisy Farish and Northwind Marin

Sierra Gundersen and Moonlight Star

Emma Kurtz and Yes It's True

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Emma Kurtz Captures Four Blue Ribbons as 2013 USEF Pony Finals Get Underway at Kentucky Horse Park

Written by: Rebecca Walton
Client: Kentucky Horse Shows LLC http://www.kentuckyhorseshows.com
Release Date: 2013-08-06

Lexington, KY – August 6, 2013 – It was beautiful and sunny for the first day of the 2013 United States Equestrian Federation Pony Finals National Championship at the Kentucky Horse Park. Today, the top ponies and riders from across the nation gathered at the Walnut Ring for the Green Pony Hunters Model and Under Saddle, as well as the Regular Medium Pony Hunter Model. Throughout the year riders have worked diligently to qualify for this prestigious event and compete for the winning honors. Emma Kurtz returned to the ring for award presentations six times today with her talented mounts, leading the way in the model and under saddle phases.

The USEF Pony Finals offers three-phases of competition, and the ponies are scored on conformation, way of moving under saddle and jumping ability. The young riders are subject to scoring based on equitation and skill at piloting their pony over fences. Winners are declared in all six divisions: small, small green, medium, medium green, large and large green pony and each year the points are tabulated to declare a USEF Green Hunter Pony Champion and USEF Regular Pony Hunter Champion, presented by Sallee Horse Vans.

The first event of the day was Small Green Pony Model, where Mackenzie Altheimer, claimed the blue ribbon prize with Heavens to Betsy, owned by ABA Hunter Ponies of Tampa, FL. The second place honors went to Emma Kurtz and Yes It’s True, owned by Sofia Roberts LLC of Wilmington, OH. Taylor St. Jacques and Hershey’s Kiss, owned by Danielle Roskens of South Lyon, MI rounded out today’s top three.

“Heavens to Betsy is really pretty and fun, and she’s a really good jumper,” smiled Altheimer. “I’ve been handling her for a year, and she loves giving hugs and kisses.  This is my second year at Pony Finals, and I love everything about it.

Trainer Sarah Mechlin added, “I know that Mackenzie has practiced really hard this week. Every single day after we’re done riding we’ve been practicing how it should go in the model. A lot of hard work and good grooming paid off.”

The Small Green Pony Under Saddle class was next, and this time the top call went to Kurtz and Yes It’s True. Lauren Gallagher and H.G. Mud Puddles, owned by Cold Spring Farm of Oxford, PA were the second place finishers, while Samantha Palermo and Tazmanian Devil, owned by Violet Barnett of San Francisco, CA, earned the third place award.

“I rode Yes It’s True this year in Florida, and she just needs to be connected and together,” explained Kurtz. “She jumps really well. Her jump is the best thing about her. It’s amazing to have done so well today.”

The Walnut Ring welcomed the Medium Green Ponies to the ring next for their model and under saddle portions. The model victory went to Sierra Gundersen of Ridgefield, CT, and Moonlight Star. Taking home the second place honors were Kurtz and her second mount of the day, Show Me Love owned by Scott Stewart of Wellington, FL, while Addison Piper of Wellington, FL, and Sunrise earned the third place award.

This marks Gundersen’s first appearance at Pony Finals, making for a very emotional victory. “I been working with Moonlight Star and Ridgefield Equestrian for over two years,” she expressed. “We showed her in the short-stirrup, and that didn't really go so well, but then we went into the 2', and we did very well. When we started to the 2'6" she just opened up and changed into a whole different pony. She was so much happier at this level. I would've never expected to win at Pony Finals against this many ponies. She's so special; she's just amazing!”

Kurtz scored her second blue ribbon at the USEF Pony Finals today with Show Me Love during the Medium Green Pony Hunter Under Saddle. The second place prize was presented to Coco Fath and Rosmel’s Fairy Steps, owned by Katherine G. Arliss of Red Bank, NJ. Picking up the third place honors was Morgan Mickel of Molino, FL, riding Surreal.

“Show Me Love is easy. I just keep his head up, and he pretty much does the rest,” noted Kurtz. “He always wants to be doing something and loves having a job. I enjoy riding the green ponies because it gives you a challenge.”

The Large Green Pony Hunters were next in the ring, where Kurtz continued her winning ways, this time handling All My Love for Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, VA, to garner the winning title in the model. Laurel Bennett of Carlisle, PA, took home the second place ribbon with Harrison. The third place award was presented to Bernadette Chungunco and Childs Play Hot Topic, owned by Kathy Martin of Morriston, FL.

During the Large Green Pony Hunter Under Saddle, Daisy Farish and Northwind Marin, owned by Prue Richardson of Markdale, ON, stepped up to the first place position and won the blue ribbon prize. Lily Deer of Highland Park, IL, was presented with the second place honors for her ride aboard Golden, while Carly Williams and Cheerybrook Queen of the Hill, owned by Sunset Farm of Culpeper, VA, received the third place award.

“I showed Northwind Marin a couple times before he started doing the Green division,” stated Farish. “I also showed him at Capital Challengem, and he was Grand Champion there, so he’s been great. He’s really easy. You just have to leg him, and he extends his trot and is really fun.”

The final event in the Walnut Ring was the Regular Medium Pony Hunter Model. Out of 12 sections, it was Kurtz once again taking center stage and earning the top call, handling Grand All Over for David Gochman of New York, NY. Picking up the second place award was Zayna Rizvi and Lakeview Pick Pocket, owned by Daryl Stout of Front Royal, VA, while Mimi Gochman and Truly Noble, owned by Pegasus Show Stables of Racho Santa Fe, CA, took home the third place prize.

Kurtz captured four blue ribbons and two red ribbons on the opening day, an impressive feat for any rider. “The Gochman Family got Grand All Over when the girls were really young, and they had trouble getting him going so they had me ride him. He’s really lazy, so he needs lots of leg,” commented the 13-year-old. “He’s really cute, and I am so grateful to have such nice ponies to show. It’s been an awesome day, and this is the best I have ever done.”

Competition will continue tomorrow for the USEF Pony Finals as the Green Pony Hunters compete over fences and the Medium Pony Hunters complete their under saddle phase.

For more information about the 2013 USEF Pony Finals please visit www.usef.org.

For more information about the Kentucky Summer Series please visit www.KentuckyHorseShows.com.

 

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