BY ELISE STEPHENS
Pony Finals. For some, it’s an insurmountable challenge to even try and qualify, let alone show there. For others, it’s just another show—easy peasy. But whether it’s your life long dream or a show on your schedule, pony finals is an experience you won’t ever forget.
It all starts the moment you board the plane or take a seat in your car for that long journey. You can’t help but imagine walking out with the champion ribbon strapped to your perfect pony’s bridle. Lost in excited daydreams, you’ve finally arrived!
The show itself is a happy blur. Restlessly sleeping the first night, hanging out with your friends from 7am to 7pm every night, hacking ponies in the busy schooling ring, avoiding chaos everywhere you go, begging moms for that extra 20$ for those super cute horse treats for sale. It’s all the norm for Pony Finals.
Then the first day of showing comes, nerves rack up, and you fuss over every single thing, making sure it’s all absolutely perfect. You stand on that grass, waiting to walk into the model, and those championship visions fly into your mind again. You walk into that walnut ring, set your pony up, and wait. And wait. And wait. Until the judge comes up to you and then it’s go go go!
Stretching your ponies neck out and making sure all the feet are aligned, you can only hope the judge sees what you do; an absolutely adorable, gorgeous, perfect pony that no doubt should win absolutely everything. The same goes for the hack, and you do anything you can just to get that perfect trot right in front of the judge.
And then, all of a sudden it seems, the day is done. Whether you’ve come in first or last, it was still one of the best experiences you had ever had. After one more restless night, you wake up the next morning for the course walk. Sitting by the ring, watching one pony after another go, either having a spectacular round, or…not so spectacular—the nerves build up again. You go over the course in your mind time after time, making sure every detail is perfectly imprinted in your mind. Slowly, the time moves on until it’s your turn.
You slowly tack up your pony, making sure there are absolutely no stains or wrinkles anywhere. Warming up, you want every jump to be perfect. Finally, the announcer calls the much anticipated “Hey, you’re two out,” so you canter once more and head up the ramp. Butterflies race through your stomach as you watch one pony in front of you disappear into the ring. And then another. And then it’s all you, counting down the seconds until you’re in that ring yourself.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Show time.
You give your pony a nervous pat on the neck, praying to all gods just to have a good round. But once you walk in, you realize that it doesn’t matter if you have a good round or bad. All that matters is you’re here with the best pony in the world.
The latest pop song blares over the loudspeaker. You pick up the trot, then canter. Around the first corner you go, turning to the first jump with a nice forward gallop. One jump, two jumps, three, four, five jumps down. You slowly feel your senses returning as you jump those last few jumps and turn through the final corner. And when your done, no matter if it’s whoops and hollers all around or slow claps you hear, you’re happy as can be. No one could replace this moment.
So yes, pony finals for some is a dream, and others just a show, but no matter what, it will always leave memories unlike any other “show” behind.