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Press Release


Kirklen Petersen and For the Best

Kirklen Petersen and For the Best

Kirklen Petersen and For the Best

Madeline Schaefer and Leon

Madeline Schaefer and Leon

Sophia Calamari and Smitten

USPC Pony Club Pony Jumper team: Julianna Empie, Genevieve Munson, Magdalene Mann and Elizabeth Simonian with Chef d'Equipe Richard Lamb

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For The Best is Best Large Green Pony at USEF Pony Finals

Written by: Emily Riden
Client: Kentucky Horse Shows LLC
Release Date: 2014-08-08

Lexington, KY – August 8, 2014 – Behind every great pony is a great team, and for For the Best, that team has quite the a-list line-up.

The newly crowned 2014 Large Green Pony Hunter champion was started and trained by junior rider phenom, Tori Colvin; he’s owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, and he was ridden to the championship on Friday at the USEF Pony Finals by former Pony Finals champion and another strong junior talent, Kirklen Petersen.

“Tori [Colvin] had trained him since he was a foal,” Parker said of For the Best. “She broke him and trained him; she was the only person who ever rode him. I saw him at River’s Edge [Farm] with Tori exercising him a summer ago, and right away, I said to her mother: ‘I think that pony would be a good green ride for Kirklen Petersen next year.’”

From there the power team came together. Parker acquired the pony from Colvin, and she contacted Petersen to put the final piece of the puzzle in place. 

“I was a little nervous that Kirklen wouldn’t want to do ponies anymore. Everyone wants to do the horses, as if these are any less difficult to ride,” Parker said. “But Kirklen’s mother texted us back right away that she would be thrilled. I was so happy.”  

Petersen too was excited at the opportunity, and she has enjoyed the ride that started during the Winter Equestrian Festival and reached a notable high point Friday with the awarding of the championship tricolor. 

“He’s one of my favorite ponies,” Petersen said. “He’s definitely my kind of ride. He really wants you to just leave him alone, pick up a canter and just let him do what he does best. He’s an amazing jumper, and he has a huge stride." 

For the Best showcased both of those traits today en route to taking second place in the Large Green Over Fences class, from a starting field of 80 ponies. With the over fences phase accounting for 50 percent of ponies’ overall scores, For the Best climbed slightly from the fifth place position following the model and under saddle to the top of the leaderboard at the end of the day.

“For me this is especially thrilling because it’s the seventh year in a row that I’ve won championships at Pony Finals,” Parker said. “It’s a very humbling thing.”

Parker continued, “Kirklen did a great job...She’s been training superbly with Kelley Farmer who’s really sophisticated her riding and given her a lot of rides on horses. We had her working along with Scott Stewart, and between the two of them, team teaching was a really great thing.”

Prior to Petersen and For the Best’s victory, it was Madeline Schaefer and her own Leon who took their turn in the winners’ circle where they were presented with the Medium Green Pony Hunter championship.

The Schaefer’s purchased and imported the pony from Europe about a year ago at the encouragement of Kate Conover.   

“Kate was obsessed with him for like two years,” joked Schaefer. “We finally got him about a year ago."

Madeline’s sister, Samantha added, “The people there didn’t want to sell him. He was a little boys pony, and then he finally outgrew him, and they were like ‘okay, we’ll sell him to you.’”

“We’ve only been showing him since the beginning of April, and he’s never offered to ever misbehave,” Samantha continued. “He’s very straightforward, so we kind of knew what we had going into it. [Madeline] did a great job with him.”

The biggest award of the day went to Wednesday’s Small Green Pony Hunter Champions, Sophia Calamari and Smitten. With their first championship already under their belt, Calamari and Smitten came back today to be named the 2014 Grand Green Pony Hunter Champions as the pair with the most points of all the Green Pony Hunters.

U.S. Pony Club Team Takes Gold In Pony Jumpers Team Competition

Nearby in the Alltech Arena, the Pony Jumpers took center stage, where one of the teams competing in the Pony Jumper’s Team Competition was not like the others. Riders Elizabeth Simonian, Genevieve Munson, Magdalene Mann and Julianna Empie did not represent a zone in the team competition: they are all members of the U.S. Pony Club, and their 29 fault total in Friday night’s Nations Cup format pony jumper class took team gold.

“I think that says a lot about Pony Club,” Elizabeth Simonian said of the team’s win. Simonian rode the 11-year-old gelding Blues Traveler to post a clear first round and drop just a single rail over the second course. “We were able to be calm, and not just go ride really fast, but ride technically and smart, so I think that says a lot about USPC.”

While Simonian certainly finished up with a nice score compared to the rest of the class, the youngest member of the Pony Club team proved to be its best performing member. 10- year-old Genevieve Munson rode Bluebelle to two clear efforts in today’s team competition and is headed into Saturday’s individual competition tied for the lead.

Munson showed wisdom beyond her years when she explained why she thought the Pony Club team out performed all the others.

“We ride the Pony Club way,” Munson said. “Pony Club is more about the horse management then the riding. In Pony Club three-fourths of what they teach is horse management. The riding they teach so it is safe for the horse and the rider and so they can accomplish things later.”

Simonian and Blues Traveler are an excellent example of what happens when an owner has patience with a horse. Simonian leases Blues Traveler, or Theo as he is known in the barn, from Caroline Marlett and Davis Templeton, who bought the pony in the spring of 2012.

According to Marlett, a friend had rescued the pony from the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans in February before Marlett bought him in March of the same year (hence the name “Blues Traveler”).

“When we started, he didn’t steer; he didn’t trot, and he couldn’t canter a 20 meter circle,” Marlett explained. “But he loved to jump. So we just put a lot of flat work on him and then worked on the jumping.

“Then a year ago, [Simonian] was looking for a pony, and I was looking for a kid, and it just sort of happened,” Marlett continued. “It’s been probably the greatest experience ever for both of us. It’s kind of a rags to riches story.”

Theo is not the only pony on the team with an unusual back ground. Magdalene Mann’s pony, Diego, had a very different showing career until recently.

“I actually started jumping in jumpers a year ago,” Mann said. “I’ve been for the past three years a dressage rider on my pony Diego. We were doing pony FEI dressage for the last three years.”

Anchoring the USPC team effort was Julianna Empie. After posting a clear first round effort Empie added just four faults after her second round to the team score. Empie would be considered the veteran of the team—her pony Northwind’s Opus has competed at Pony Finals six times, three of which were with Empie, and the pair took a team bronze medal with USPC in 2012.

“I had the opportunity to ride for Zone 2 this year, but I decided to come for pony club,” Empie explained. “It’s helped me so much with my riding and I’ve been in Pony Club for many years now and it’s just been great. I love Pony Club.”

The 2014 USEF Pony Finals competition continues Saturday with the Medium Pony Hunter over fences classes beginning at 9 a.m. in the Walnut Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park. The Pony Jumpers will conclude Saturday evening in the Alltech Arena with the individual final round and the farewell class. To learn more about USEF Pony Finals visit 


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