By Sydney Lowe
THERMAL, Calif. – March 12, 2021 – Ponies took center stage Friday afternoon as an impressive thirty-four entries battled it out in the $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby, sponsored by Antares. Riders had the opportunity to win magnificent prizes on behalf of Antares. The winning rider received a saddle and the top scoring large, medium, and small pony riders were awarded Antares helmets. Emme Tangen (Rolling Hills, CA) aboard her own Child’s Play Hot Topic clinched the win with a total combined score of 171 points.
The derby course featured ten fences built of natural looking obstacles. Gerry Briggs of East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, designed a beautiful course in the newly landscaped Hunter 5 arena. Round one was built of long lines for riders to flaunt their pony’s stride lengths.
“In the first round, the lines were probably the toughest because she has such a big stride that we need to take it back sometimes,” explained Tangen.
The second round was set perfectly to illustrate the rider’s handiness. The construction of the course allowed riders the option to take the inside track from fence five to fence six. That specific turn took skill and precision to master and luckily for Tangen, she did just that.
“In the handy, I think the hardest part was the turn from fence five to fence six. It was just a very tidy turn and it was just a little difficult.”
Child’s Play Hot Topic is a fairly new mount for Tangen. Paired since September, Tangen has had amazing success thus far with her pony. Coached by Devon Gibson, head trainer at Seahorse Riding Club, the two have won multiple division championships together.
“She is a very good pony,” expressed Tangen. “She has won all over the country. We have had her for a little under half a year and she has been so wonderful. We have been able to accomplish so much that I never knew we could.”
The pair spent three weeks at the Desert International Horse Park at the beginning of Desert Circuit where they won multiple classes including the Pony Hunter Classic Week I. Tangen has set big goals for herself and aims to attend the Kentucky Horse Show and compete in the USHJA Pony Hunter Finals.
“I really want to be top 20 at pony finals this year,” exclaimed Tangen.
Tangen and Child’s Play Hot Topic also claimed the high scoring large pony award.
Coming in second place was Laurel Piombo (San Anselmo, CA) and Utopia with a total combined score of 169 points across the two rounds. Piombo is trained by Hugh Mutch of 2 Mutch Show Jumping based in Nicasio Valley, CA. Rounding out the top three was Cambridge ridden by Adelaide Root of Santa Barbara, California. The pair were awarded with a two-round total score of 169 points for their efforts. Root trains under Corrine Bevis, head trainer of San Marcos Training located in Santa Barbara, California.
During the esteemed World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week helding during the final week of Desert Circuit, pony riders will have the chance to gain points to qualify for WCHR Finals held at the Capital Challenge Horse Show.
To view the full results, visit Showgrounds Live.