Lexington, Ky. — –September 4, 2018 — – Seven days at the USEF Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm were nothing short of amazing for Olivia Elmore, Ryder Richardson and Sydney Spevak thanks to the USHJA Foundation Gochman Grant.
The three young equestrians were awarded the grant in June of this year by the USHJA Foundation Board of Directors out of a competitive field of applicants from across the country. The grant offers each recipient the opportunity to compete at USEF Pony Finals, as well as numerous other activities throughout the week in Lexington, Kentucky.
“The week was amazing. It’s better than I could have ever expected,” said Sydney Spevak, 17, of Henrico, Virginia, who left the Pony Finals experience to start a new chapter in her life at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. “This has been a dream of mine ever since I can remember, and [the Gochman Family] made it all possible. [They] made it all come true.” Spevak rode Moon Run Duplicity, “Dolly,” owned by Katie Cohen and trained by Emily Elek of Stonewall Ponies. The pair had the opportunity to practice the week prior to Pony Finals during the Kentucky Summer Classic.
“She’s just a joy to ride and to be around. She’s so sweet. She loves treats and loves to lick. She’s just an in your pocket kind of personality,” said Spevak of Dolly. “Showing her was my favorite part of the week. I had the time of my life.” “The week has been absolutely amazing,” echoed Olivia Elmore, 16, of McDonough, Georgia. “We actually ribboned in the under saddle, which was the best day, like actually, the best day of my life.” Elmore rode Oliver Twist, a 10-year-old grey Welsh pony cross (by Blue Rain), to a 14th-placed finish in the Large Pony Under Saddle. Oliver was generously donated by Emily Elek of Stonewall Ponies.
“I donated Oliver Twist to participate with a Gochman Grant recipient this year at Pony Finals because I really believe in the program,” said Elek. “What I didn’t expect was how many calls I would get inquiring about Oliver after he won a ribbon with Olivia. He was leased to a wonderful family the very next day!”
Ryder Richardson, 12, of Parker, Colorado, rode Nominee, an 8-year-old gelding (Woodrow Carisbooke-Manouska Van De Stompslag) owned by Elle Gibbs and trained by Robin Greenwood. Richardson not only competed in the Large Pony Hunter section but rode Nominee in the Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Finals.
“I’ve had the most incredible experience,” said Richardson. “Riding in the big Walnut Arena was amazing, and I had so much fun. My favorite part of the week was meeting the pony I rode. His name is Boss, and he is incredible. I want to say to the Gochman Family, ‘Thank you so much. Thank you for the opportunity you’ve given me. It means the world to me; I’ve had a blast here.'”
The grant experience was led by Robin Greenwood and Rob Jacobs, who volunteer their time to support the grant. Greenwood owns and operates Grand Central Ponies in Southern Pines, North Carolina, while Jacobs owns and operates RLJ Stables in Hampstead, North Carolina. This is their second year teaming up to facilitate the grant, identifying ponies that would be appropriate for the riders and providing full care and coaching to the riders and ponies throughout the week.
“[Rob and Robin] work great together as a team. I can’t imagine two trainers working better together,” said Andrea Elmore, Olivia’s mother. “Rob is just this calming force. I don’t think the girls would have been as successful without him. And with Robin, the kids really listened to her; you could see an instant change in their ability when she tells them something to do. They really made a difference in Olivia’s growth this week.”
In addition to competing at USEF Pony Finals, Aug. 6-12, 2018, Elmore, Richardson and Spevak participated in the free USHJA Educational Clinics, including the Judge’s Perspective with Geoff Teall and Ken Smith and the Pony Model Clinic led by Bill Schaub with support from top trainers and judges. They received an inside look at Spy Coast Farm, the premier breeding and sport horse development operation based in Lexington, Kentucky. USHJA Official Sponsor Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital provided the grant recipients with a tour of the facility and the opportunity to observe medical procedures and ask questions of veterinarians. They even took some time to trail ride around the Kentucky Horse Park and soak in the beauty of the Bluegrass State.
“I cannot thank the Gochman Family enough. It’s been such an eye-opening experience,” said Olivia Elmore. “Without them I would never have been here; I would never have had this experience. I’m forever grateful to them. And, I just can’t thank everyone enough who has been part of making this week possible.” The USHJA Foundation Gochman Grant is made possible each year through the generous support of the Gochman Family.
The USHJA and USHJA Foundation thank the Gochman Family, as well as the following supporters who helped make the week a wonderful experience: Charles Owen, The Clothes Horse, Cunningham Golf Car Co, Inc., Emily Elek of Stonewall Ponies, Robin Greenwood, Rob Jacobs, Kentucky Horse Shows, Personalized Products, Residence Inn Lexington North, Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and Pharmacy, Shapley’s, and Spy Coast Farm.
Applications open for the USHJA Foundation Gochman Grant at the beginning of each competition year. Learn more about the grant at www.ushjafoundation.org/GochmanGrant.