From The Wild to Pony Finals


Reprint of July/August’s 2015 Pony Issue. Read the full Magazine at


Mr. Popper is truly one of his kind, as he is the first full bred mustang to qualify for Pony Finals. He was captured in October of 2009, in Fremont, Wyoming. He was placed in a pen like structure with others for several years till he was adopted by Joe Williams in 2013. Later that year Mr. Popper was bought by the Gentry family as their daughter’s, Madison Gentry, 15th birthday present.

Mr. Popper, Goose or Goosey Goose nicknames given to him by Madison, was a diamond in the rough. This family knew he would one day be special, Goose just need-ed some training, love, and a lot of treats for him to become the pony he is today. Madison has great affection for her pony, “When I first tried Goose I instantly knew something was special about him, no mat-ter what he would give 100% in anything I asked him as long as there was a treat at the end of the day.”

Goose is a character in and out of the ring, “His demeanor is so innocent, like he can do no wrong, [and] he try’s his heart out every ride.” When they first started showing together they attended local shows for him to get accustomed to the horse showing atmosphere without getting overwhelmed. When Madison and Goose felt prepared enough they tackled the Rat-ed shows. On his first time out he qualified, securing his spot on the trailer that’s going to Kentucky in August. “To qualify the first time out was an incredible relief and reassurance for both of us.”


He qualified in the Green Large Pony hunter division with the help of Terry Gozalez. Mr. Gonzalez is owner and trainer of T.M. Hills Farm International. He runs a successful show barn based out of Ocala, Florida. Focusing on hunters, jumpers, and equitation.

The Gentry family came to T.M. Hills Farm in the fall of 2014. They wanted a trainer who can be honest and get the best out of the horse and rider. Mr. Gonzalez can do just that, he got Madison and Goose to trust each other fully. He brought any fears that they may have had out in the open for them to conquer one by one. Working with Mr. Gonzalez has brought them several steps closer on becoming a solid team. “They have learned to really believe in each other, day to day I see them growing. I’m excited for them, once they get their groove on in the show ring you see they truly belong in the pony world. He’s a greater mover, truly giving some of those ponies a run for their money in the under saddle.” Mr. Gonzalez explains how Madison and Goose work together and get better each day.


Madison had been to Pony Finals previously but was unable to show her large pony on the final day. Her week started off well, she stayed out of ribbons but it did not bother her. She went for the experience, and she was surely doing just that. When the final day of showing came, her dreams were halted. Madison’s pony showed complications of colic, which meant no showing for them today. Sadly her Pony Finals experience ended shorter than she had expected. All she wanted was another shot, to see the Kentucky show grounds once again. Now Goose is her opportunity to experience Pony Finals all over again.

Pony Finals gathers ponies from across the country every year. Brining top notch, well-bred ponies who are usually at the top of the leaderboard year after year. In 2014 Pony Finals, True Colors surprised many people by winning the over fences, and placing in top 10 in two other Medium Green Pony Hunter classes. He was a paint pony that made many people turn heads in the show ring, a pony you wouldn’t naturally see winning everything everywhere. Many people base a pony’s abilities on its color and breed. Having different ponies go to Pony Finals brings a more evolved show. As we progress into developing the divisions where all ponies are treated equally, we allow different breeds to shine. Not just narrowing down the field to bloodlines and fancy names. But, being able to evolve the classes to see the overall pony, how he/she moves and jumps. Having an equal opportunity for fair judging no matter breed or color.

UPDATED TO ADD: Mr. Popper will be competing in the Large Pony Hunters in 2016 and has also qualified for USEF Pony Finals 2017 in the Large Pony Hunter division.