BY NATALIE STEMPEL
After years of struggling in the hunter classes on my pony, it was time to find a partner who wanted to grow with me! Kasper has taught me so much about being tough, sticking out a ride and working through issues. He has beautiful form over fences, but loves to stop!
So, my parents and trainer helped me start the search for a new partner.
When I started to look for a new pony, I knew that I wanted one that was sometimes bad and sometimes good. That way, I could continue to become a better rider. I knew that on a tight budget, a fancy pony that could be brought along to help me reach my goals would definitely be green and have pony tricks, but I was ready for the challenge. What I ended up getting was a pony I just can’t live without.
Once I saw Go Me! I knew I just had to have her. She’s a 12.2, 9-year-old gray welsh mare that I named Gogo. Since meeting her, I have a feeling that she’s more dog than pony. She loves to cuddle and make me laugh. But her favorite thing to do is to make me work hard in the tack!
Just four months ago, Gogo started a new pony trick as I like to call them. She started “scooting.” When she scooted, it felt like she was going really fast for a few strides although I was able to get her to stop pretty quickly. I had never had a pony that had this kind of trick before. After a week or two of working through her new “scooting” trick, Gogo was back and being perfect.
But me? Well, I had lost all of my confidence, but I wasn’t going to give up. I’ve worked too hard to give up now. Confidence is a funny thing, especially in riding, it can come and go so quickly. I find that when mine is low, I have to look to the riders that inspire me like Jennifer Alfano and Ella Doer.
I met Jennifer this past year at Devon, and got to hang out in her barn for a few hours. Jennifer grew up in my area, and worked hard riding any horse or pony she could as a kid. She groomed for others, and took every opportunity that she was offered. Eventually, she even groomed for the great Gem twist! Now she has become one of the winningest hunter riders in the country. She inspires me, because she kept working hard toward her goals and never gave up. Even today, she’s reaching toward new goals!
Ella Doer is someone I have been following closely for the last year or two. My Stepdad, Scott Mohney, shoes her ponies and told me about how hard she works every
day with her ponies. My mom lets me use her social media to follow Ella where I can see that Ella is a lot like me. She doesn’t have ponies that are perfect, and she has to work through bad days and pony tricks.
This year, I was so excited for the PA National Horse Show, because it meant I got to meet Ella. She has inspired me so much because Batman, her pony finals pony, was green just like my pony Gogo. However, Ella put in all that effort and time and it paid off with a ticket to pony finals. That is my goal too. I try to learn as much as I can from watching videos and reading to make sure that I can follow in her footsteps.
Following my idols, listening to my trainer and working hard finally helped me get my confidence back. I’m sure it might be shaken at some point on my journey to reach my goals just like these two riders, but I hope I can continue to work as hard as both of them to achieve my goals. I know I may not be the best rider in the world, but together Gogo and I will be able to do it!
Natalie is 10 years old, and has been riding and showing since the age of 2. Since the day she could walk she was out at the barn hugging knees of ponies – she has never looked back! She started lightly competing in the rated circuits last summer, and plans to start with indoors in early January. Her main goal with Gogo in the coming year or two is to qualify for pony finals! She also enjoys reading and playing her violin.