Find this editorial piece and more inside TPH’s 2017 Pony Issue HERE
By Mackenzie Shuman
There’s just something about great ponies. From the way they cart around their little jockeys in big rings, to their true blue personalities, these wee giants of the sport provide support and knowledge win or lose over a score of years. Though old age can be a detriment in other areas of horse sports, countless older ponies have toted a slew of young riders weekend after weekend well into their third decade.
We researched and found 20 ponies that are over 20 years old and are still showing. These ponies are a special breed. Most began their show lives in the greens, spooking at a shadow here, missing a lead change there, but then as they matured, time and miles molded them into something amazing. They became little machines. Little teaching machines. In their prime some competed in Pony Finals with nothing but success, while others stayed local and were the biggest fish in their smaller pond. With age came a zen-like tolerance for the job. No more spook and an automatic lead change and trainers gratefully trust them with another generation of riders. From lead line to walk trot, from x-rails to classics, these 20 ponies over 20 still bring ear-to-ear smiles and blue ribbons to their lucky partners.
Blackberry, 23. Glen Eden LLC (Hillcrest’s Magic Marker x Helikon Halo) Blackberry is one of the most experienced ponies on the circuit. Riders like Lillie Keenan, Sarah Boston, and Mckayla Langmeier have all had a chance to ride this incredible pony. Her current rider, Abigail Davis, competes on her in the short stirrup with Lisa Campi in New Jersey. The pair, though fairly new, has already seen success at shows such as Hits on the Hudson, and they are looking forward to many years together. “She is considered quite a diva in the barn, and gives everyone a run for their money with clipping and mane pulling,” said owner Kathy Kunsman of Glen Eden LLC. Her unique “eyebrows” marking give her all the more reason to be cherished as a one-of-a-kind pony.
Yes I Am, 20. GC Ponies (Carolinas Red Fox x Festive Friend) Yes I Am has said “YES!” from the very beginning. Carrying around riders such as Paige Bellissimo, Samantha Schaefer, Chloe Reid, Alexandra Crown, Sydney Shulman, Ali Tritschler, Failenn Aselta, and his current rider, Ashbrook Boyd, Yes I Am has given them all the confidence they needed to succeed in the horse world. From piloting around the small ponies to carrying a young rider in the walk-trot, Yes I Am has a resume to contend with.
Helicon Buccaneer, 20. Charis Baumann (Glannant Epic x Glannant Vela) Helicon Buccaneer is quite the pony. He has earned many ribbons with riders such as Kelsey Thatcher, Peri Monroe, and his current rider, Charis Baumann. Baumann says that even at 20 years old, “He can jump the moon, he even managed to jump 3’6” with me one day, and we compete at 2’6” the whole season.” Helicon Buccaneer surely is not slowing down anytime soon.
Deja Blue, 20. Forget Me Not Farm (Blue Rain x Sugarbrook Chocolate Rose) Deja Blue is a stunning mare, who doesn’t look a day over 10. She has an extensive resume with riders like Mia Green, Nicole White, Faye-Bella Evans Dunn, and Taylor Kain, just to name a few. Her current rider, Julia Sipp, shows her in the Short Stirrups, and the pair are always in the top placings. “She’s like a grandma,” said owner Stefanie Mazer of Forget Me Not Farm, “she takes care of her riders on the ground and in the tack.” At the ripe age of 20, Deja Blue has never looked so good.
Brownland’s Bugs Bunny, 21. Brownland Farm (Brownland’s Water Image x Petticoat Lane) Brownland’s Bugs Bunny has been a steadfast pony for any rider who has the pleasure of being partnered with him. He has taught many riders the finer points of horse showing, including Daniella Fields, Jaime Gibson, Caitlin Guinn, Parker Schooley, Sarah Smith, and his current rider, Margaret Anderton. Throughout his life, Brownland’s Bugs Bunny has never let his riders be handed a ribbon, and, in fact, would rather spook away from the sight of a ribbon than allow one to be pinned on him! Despite his hatred for ribbons (and anything being handed to his rider) he has never let his riders down, and continues to win wherever he goes. (Please hold the ribbons, but not the applause.)
Master Plan, 23. Darby Pease (Valentino x Larka) Master Plan is a typical sassy pony with loads of spunk. He has shown all over the nation with riders such as Caroline Dunn, Samantha and Taylor Hodge, Sophie Del Vescovo, Darby Pease, and his current rider, Gracie Fernandez. Grumpy in the stall but a gentleman when he is out, Master Plan is the perfect pony for any young rider to learn on. “When you’re riding him he’s really good but he has sassy moments and he’ll throw in a little buck or hop just to spice things up,” laughed owner, Darby Pease. He may be a senior pony at 23, but Master Plan sure is not showing any signs of it yet.
Close To Home, 22. Jody Moraski (Pendock Masterpiece x Benlea Cinderella) Close to home is a pony who was put on the big stage from the very beginning, and she has excelled. Never out of the top ribbons, Close To Home has been ridden by Laura Pfieffer, Madison Onorato, Megan King, Alaina Aureliano, Jody Moraski, Hope Verschleiser, and her current rider, Sara Pezza. She enjoys being at shows more than she enjoys being at home, and tends to be a bit of a princess, knowing that she is getting the best treatment so she can go in the ring and win. Even after competing for two decades, Close To Home still enters (and wins!) in the same division she conquered as a young pony. We look forward to seeing Close To Home wearing blues for many more years to come!
Hands Up, 20. Emily Jurnovoy (Gayfields Call The Cops x Jazzy) Hands Up is a pony who has carried several riders through some of the biggest classes in the nation with great success. She has brought riders such as Kyra Rumble, Paris Theodosakis, Victoria Press, Claire Campbell, Daisy Farish, Jordyn Rose Freedman, Caroline Philipson, and Kayla Ryan onto the big stage. Though she is now 20, Hands Up shows no signs of slowing down, as she continues to give great results to his current rider, Emily Jurnovoy.
Clovercroft Show Me The Bunny, 21. Ashland Farms (Cloe Olympian x Gayfields Runaround Sue) Clovercroft Show Me The Bunny has been the star pony for many generations of riders. He has carried riders such as Clayton Martines, Natalie Jayne, Emma Seving, Coco Farish, and his current rider, Hannah Famulak, around the top arenas in the country. Though he can be lazy (and requires a bit of a kick) he has brought riders to the ribbons, time after time. “He has a big walk too, it’s as though he thinks he’s 16 hands,” said Lauren Gridley, the assistant trainer at Gray Horse Farm.
Helicon Bright N’ Breezy, 25. Lochmoor Stables (Glannant Epic x La Vienta De Farod) Helicon Bright N’ Breezy is a pony that helps instill confidence in those who ride her. She has always been a show-off in the arena, and makes sure her jockeys look good as well. Riders such as Meredith Darst, Emma Lemke, Abbygale Funk, Cole Battershall, Estelle Kraft, Molly Canfield, and her most recent rider Sienna Shapiro have all walked into the arena knowing that this pony wants to win as much as they do. “She was all business, but something funny that sometimes happened was that if she had to poop during a round, she would just stop and do her business! It was so funny because no one could get her to move and she was like, ‘I’m perfect, let me poop,” said Molly Canfield, a previous rider of the mare. Though Helicon Bright N’ Breezy has recently been retired, she has carried several young riders to their dreams over recent years.
Hillcrest Blue Cwilt, 20. Pony Lane Farm & Madeline Thatcher (Gayfields Vida Blue x Hillcrest Red Bonnet) From one end of the country to the next, Hillcrest Blue Cwilt has been a championship pony her whole life. Her long career highlights riders such as Madeline Thatcher, Cole Vitello, Eliza Gurney, and her current rider, Daniela Carvajal. “She taught me how to ride a fancy pony with finesse and stay out of her way since she found her own distances,” said Madeline Thatcher. At 20 years old, Hillcrest Blue Cwilt is still teaching young riders to stay on with her hard jump, and to become truly great riders with style and poise.
Truly Noble, 20. Pegasus Show Stable Inc. (Campari x Turfhorst Melodie) There are many ponies with great, star-studded pasts, but Truly Noble continues to carry the future riding stars. Today, he carries Shiloh Roseboom around the medium pony hunters, just as he did the Gochmans, Emma Kurtz, Yasmin Rizvi, Mitchell Endicott, Chloe Reid, and Adrienne Sternlicht. With Championships at every major show in the nation, Truly Noble has a legacy to uphold. Though he is now two decades old, he surely does not show signs of stopping.
Silver Rain, 23. Peacock Ridge LLC (Cloe Olympian x Glyncadno Spook) Silver Rain has been an iconic pony from the very beginning. With a resume that includes riders such as Kaitlin Campbell, Jaime Steinhaus, Annie Davidson, Madeline Schaefer, Zayna Rizvi, Rose Campbell, and his most recent rider, Briane Beerbaum, Silver Rain has been on the big stage and never blinked an eye. His steadfast personality and will to win has given many riders the confidence for any ring. After over 20 years of cantering around the small pony hunters, Silver Rain now competes in the walk-trot division, helping raise the next generation of superstars.
Happy Days, 23. Emily Elek-Burtard (Selle Francais Sport Pony) Happy Days has never stepped into the arena without coming out at the top of the ribbons. From his very first show in Ocala with Hallie Lundell to his most recent in Chicago with Kaitlyn Lancelle Bates, Happy Days has carried all of his young riders to success. Some of those riders include Ande Farish, Alyssa Franz, Rebekah Livingston, Savannah Strawbridge, Grace Leslie, and Jori Greene. (Make sure to ask them about his less “happy” days!)
Hillcrest’s Little Boy Blue, 22. Lily Nosbaum (Hillcrest’s Snow Fox x Hillcrest’s Blue Sapphire) Hillcrest’s Little Boy Blue is one of those ponies that can do it all. From the short stirrup equitation to the low working hunters, he has proven himself to be a winner time after time. With a canter and jump that are envied by all, he has carried riders such as Ada Neumann, Lolly Mclellan, and Lily Nosbaum around the ring in high fashion. “We let him be himself and don’t try to change too much about him because he is so good at his job,” said Westport Stables’ trainer Wendy Krohn.
Woodland’s Mr. Mischief, 23. Briar Field Farm (Woodland’s Foxy Cloud x Woodland’s Cloudy) Woodland’s Mr. Mischief has been a great teacher for riders up and down the pony divisions. Jockeyed by riders such as Paige Kaylor, Brooke Friedman, Payton Donnan, Montanna Shores, Kendall Cashion, and currently Ella Deonanan, he has always been at the top of the ribbons. Woodland’s Mr. Mischief wants to win as much as his riders do, and his floppy lip is an indicator that he is counting the strides to make sure the distances are just right. “We say he is OCD about knowing how tall the jumps are, no matter how high, 2’ or 3’, he taps the rails just to be sure they are down there. He rarely knocks one downs, but we laugh every time he goes in about how many he will tap,” said Kerin Benson of Briar Field Farm. Woodland’s Mr. Mischief definitely lives up to his name!
Denmark, 23. John Skinner & Madeline Thatcher (Shams Night Light x Caviar) If you’ve paid any attention to the pony ring in the last few decades, you will have heard of the pony Denmark. Riders such as Zayna Rizvi, Madeline Schaefer, Daisy Farish, Madison Goetzmann, Victoria Press, Ailish Cunniffe, and so many others have had the pleasure of riding Denmark. His current rider, Grace Debney, pilots this 23 year old pony around the mediums, and he still looks as good as he did a decade ago. Though simple and easy to ride, Denmark always has two instructions when switching riders: keep the same bit on, and do not do an opening circle. Because he has been in the ring so many times before, Denmark knows exactly what to do and does not wish to waste his time with an opening circle before the course. Despite his seniority, this incredible pony is still bringing in the blue ribbons and championships wherever he goes.
Captain Underpants, 21. Emily Elek-Burtard (Gayfields Comin Up Roses x Hillcrest’s Jewel Of The Nile) Captain Underpants is one of a long string of Stonewall Ponies, but he has stood out in many riders lives. He has brought success to riders like Alexandra Joseph, Nicholas Joseph, Julia Albano, Lanier Mason, Olivia Galley, and more. The sweetest pony with the best canter in the ring, Captain Underpants has taught kids of all ages from the short stirrup to the medium ponies on the big stage. Though normally very quiet, if a stick and spur are given to the rider, he definitely knows how to kick into high gear. Captain Underpants is surely not ready to retire anytime soon and continues his career of bringing up new riders through the ranks.
Woodland’s Berry Hazy, 21. Autumn Farms (Woodland’s Velvet Rain x Woodland’s Blueberry) Woodland’s Berry Hazy has been all across the country with a long list of riders, always earning top ribbons and championships. She has carried young riders such as Anna Lowery, Kiersten Glynn, Elizabeth Van Nostrand, Sarah Kessler, Noa Jomides, and Kyle Kipnes around many successful trips in divisions from the walk-trot to the large ponies. With her favorite treat being Gobstoppers, kids are always stopping by her stall to indulge the sweet mare with these sugary candies. Her gentle nature and confidence in any setting have helped many young riders fulfill their dreams in the pony ring and she continues to do so today.
Hillcrest Leading Lady, 20. First Blue LLC (Glannant Epic x Hillcrest’s Kar-A-Mel) Hillcrest Leading Lady is one of those worth their weight in gold ponies that trainers can rely on to help their young riders move up into a new division and succeed. Her quiet nature and “auto pilot” way has carried kids around from the short stirrup to the Children’s Ponies. She can be seen with her current rider, Helen Ryan, jumping around the Children’s Ponies with the same elegant fashion that she has graced the pony rings with for two decades and counting.
Find this editorial piece and more inside TPH’s 2017 Pony Issue HERE