Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 10, 2018 – Unlike their hunter counterparts up the hill in the Walnut Ring at the 2018 USEF Pony Finals, the teams of ponies and athletes that took center stage Friday afternoon in the Alltech Arena placed emphasis on quick feet and inside turns. The second day of the USEF Pony Jumper Championships brought young jumper riders from across the nation to the forefront for the second and final round of the team championship and, in the end, Zone 10 topped the podium for the second year in a row after exhibiting the most careful riding to accrue only 4 faults during Friday’s two-round competition.
Riding under a modified Nations Cup format, each of the six teams competed over Jasen Shelley’s track for the first round, followed by all teams returning for the second phase of jumper action. Scores were determined by adding the total faults incurred by the three best competitors of each team in both rounds.
Zacko Hardin and The Girl Next Door, owned by Patty Arnett, were second to go for Zone 10 and helped put the team in the lead with a fault free round. The remaining team members, Sydney Flashman and Focalize Dew Drop and Tabitha Okitsu and Spoot De La Jourlais, put in two more clear rounds, sending the team into round two with 0 faults.
Round two of competition saw Hardin and Flashman produce double-clear rounds with their ponies while Okitsu ended the round with just 4 faults, making the team’s final score just 4 faults.
Members of this year’s Zone 10 winning team met just over a month ago at a show and quickly formed a bond that they say contributed to their team championship win. The rider’s meeting at the start of 2018 Pony Finals helped reintroduce the team members from California so that they could continue to support each other throughout the week.
Saturday evening will showcase the final round of the individual portion of the Pony Jumper Championship at the 2018 USEF Pony Finals and the conclusion of pony jumper competition in the Alltech Arena.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Sydney Flashman – Member of winning USEF Pony Jumper Championship team
On her second round:
“Coming in I was really, really nervous. I knew that we had a chance of doing really well, both individually and for the team especially. I really wanted to go clear and give my team a good chance of doing well.”
On the Zone 10 team:
“We all became friends really quickly. We all met at a show previously about a month ago and we got along really well there. We all met again at the rider’s meeting and we just really get along well together. We were all wishing each other good luck and congratulating each other. There’s definitely a really big bond between us and so that made winning really cool.”
On returning to Pony Finals:
“I’ve been here a couple of times, but never done really well. I knew what to expect going in today, but not to the point that I knew I could do well. Yesterday I came out of the ring after going clear and I started crying because I was so excited. I think it helped a little bit that I knew what the pressure would be like from past years, but I didn’t have any sort of assurances that I would do this well.”
Zacko Hardin – Member of winning USEF Pony Jumper Championship team
On the pressure:
“The other zones put on a lot of pressure. This is my first year [at Pony Finals] and I really wanted to do well for the team and individually. It was a lot of pressure because all of the other riders here are so good. I’ve never been here or competed at such a big level so the pressure was difficult.”
On winning at Pony Finals:
“Being able to come here during my first year and do this well is just so great. Having such a great team to be apart of is great too. They’re all just so nice and supportive.”
On The Girl Next Door:
“She is a full Thoroughbred and she was a twin, which is why she turned out to be a pony. She was with another trainer at first, but Patty [Arnett] didn’t quite love her so they asked my mom if I would ride her. She was sent to my house two weeks before a show. We went to a show in Arizona and it went pretty well and then we tried to qualify for Pony Finals over the next six weeks!”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Total Faults
Individual Phase II, Round II
1. Sky Miles / Hallie Rush / Hallie Rush / 0
2. The Girl Next Door/ Zacko Hardin / Patty Arnett / 0
3. Ez To Spot / Devon Owen / Ponies Unlimited, LLC / 0
4. Focalize Dew Drop / Sydney Flashman / David Sterckx / 0
5. National Treasure / Katharine Dade/ Katharine Dade / 0
6. Raisin A Ruckus / Lydia Philbrick / Lydia Philbrick / 0
7. Venice / Elizabeth Cram / Wendy Arndt / 0
8. Sprite / Taylor Brinsfield / Kristy Fearis / 0
9. Quicksilver Happenstance / Naomi Hartman / Naomi Hartman / 4
10. Wishlea Star Dasher / Alice Nolen-Walston / Alice Nolen-Walston / 4
For more information on the 2018 USEF Pony Finals, please click here.