Living the Dream at Pony Finals

Reprint of July/August 2014 Pony Issue. Read the full Magazine at


Hi readers! I’m Lily Sanchez, 20, newfound intern for The Plaid Horse and part-time groom for Emily Elek of Stonewall Farm. I am currently a rising Junior at Purdue University where I am studying Animal Science and am Pre-Vet. I started working for Emily in the summer of 2011 at my very first Pony Finals. It was an overwhelming but very rewarding experience and I am pleased to say I will be back for another round this coming August!

600 ponies and at least that many kids. 4:30am wake up time and 16 hour days. This is Pony Finals. My job during this week is to make sure everything runs smoothly. Ponies and children must be pristine and immaculate for the judges, trainers, and parents. Baby powder, hoof oil, and boot shine are hanging out of my pockets and my jeans are soaked; you’d think I had taken the 10 baths I gave this morning!


The long walk to the Walnut ring can be a blessing or a curse for grooms and ponies alike. So many things can happen on that journey whether it be working out the early morning jitters or losing a pom from a perfectly clipped ear. Things like this happen but I’ve learned to take it all in stride.

Tension and stress levels are high this week, many trainers and pony owners have been preparing for this event all show season. As the order draws near, they rely on the grooms back at the barn to showcase the pony’s splendor as they deal with ringside activities.

As the pony steps into the ring, I step back to survey my work. It’s up to the kid now and they usually do a great job, gaining experience and having the time of their lives.

After all is said and done, the ponies are unbraided and wrapped- ready to rest up for the next day’s challenges. Kids are giving mints and praise and it’s a heart-warming sight. Pony Finals is stressful but well worth the time and hard work, I’m excited to see what it has in store for me this August!