Twenty Over 20: 2022 USEF Pony Finals

Helicon Buccaneer

Age is nothing but a number for these veteran ponies, all of whom have qualified for this year’s Pony Finals.

By Georgia Ann Smith

They are the wisest of them all. These older, seasoned show ponies have been in the ring for many years, carrying around the next generation of riders, building confidence, and still doing what they do best, even well into their twenties. 

They are trusted by the whole barn family to carry the young riders in Short Stirrup and itty-bitty jumpers. They are smart, hardy, and kind; the best combination for a children’s mount. With their gentle dispositions and flashy appearances, they continue making a name for themselves, no matter their age. Meet 20 ponies over 20 years old who are qualified to compete at this year’s Pony Finals in Kentucky.

The Bees Knees.

THE BEES KNEES

Age 25 

Owned by Emily Elek-Burtard 

He really is The Bees Knees to everyone around him. Leased out to many different riders through the years, he has carried his partners to victory again and again. He is currently shown by the Liggett family. Some previous riders include Kallie Meagher, Isabella Griffin, Isabelle Collister, and Keira Lancelle Bates.

Rico Suave

RICO SUAVE 

Age 22 

Owned by Ponies and Palms Show Stables LLC 

This pony will show you the ropes. He has an extensive show career and is still teaching riders and helping them improve their skills. “There are no words to describe how incredible he has been as my first pony. When you learn to ride from one of the best, it provides you with a foundation for doing things correctly,” says rider Ava Barnes. “Even at his age, this last year Rico and I won the WCHR pony challenge at Capital Challenge, we were reserve champions 2022 WCHR week in the smalls and we won the 2022 USHJA Pony Derby at WEF. He’s been my constant companion and best teacher and I will always refer to him as the pony of a lifetime.”

Cleverist

CLEVERIST

Age 20 

Owned by Ellie Sadrian 

(Bennos Dream x Nordis)

Cleverist is no stranger to winning at Pony Finals, winning the Under Saddle in 2010 with Daisy Farish and earning 3rd in 2018 with Samantha Takacs at the age of 16. A clever pony, indeed. He knows his job and he’s known for his trustworthiness. This 13.1hh bay gelding is currently being ridden by Ava Barnes. “The wonderful thing about Cleverist is he is the same pony every single day. Even at 20, he comes out trying his best no matter what the weather is like or where we are showing,” says Barnes. “His consistency has made me a stronger, more confident, and consistent rider and I will forever be indebted to him.” 

Silly Putty

SILLY PUTTY

Age 21 

Owned by Danica Quadracci 

It’s not exactly a secret that Silly Putty is half Welsh Pony and half Arabian—he can easily be spotted in the schooling with his signature tail that has powered an astonishing 13 trips to Pony Finals. He started in 2007 and only missed two Pony Finals due to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. Yes, that means he successfully completed Pony Finals from 2007 to 2019, and now in 2022 with Danica Quadracci. Riders have included: Stella Wasserman, Lilly French, Skyler Fields, Halle Quadracci, Grace Russo, Clara Propp, Mackenzie Murphy, Lexi Miller, and Hannah Hoch.

IN THE MOMENT

Age 23 

Owned by First Blue LLC 

(Glencoe Oberon x Quite a Cat) 

A Welsh-Thoroughbred cross, this pony stands at 14.1 hh. In The Moment is currently paired with Meghan Holland, Madeline Oneil, and RJ Maya. He previously brought home ribbons for Jennifer Dobzanski, Stacey Hamaoui, Brooke Larson, Gianna Darrigo, Libby Mewbourne, Brett Borthwick, Kat Fuqua, and Rodolfo Maya.

Prince Henry. Photo by Jody Moraski

PRINCE HENRY

Age 20 

Owned by Jody Moraski 

(Glannant Mariner x Miss Raindrop) 

Golden brown eyes, quirky (but in a good way), and photogenic. That’s how owner Jody Moraski describes her 13.2hh grey Welsh Pony. “He’s super brave to jumps; he’s just such a good boy. Prince Henry will deal with so many different people. Once you get a good program going with him…he’s like, got it,” said Moraski. His current rider, Carolina Locosta, shows him in the 2’6 hunters and they will be making their way to Pony Finals.

MIND YOUR STEP

Age 22 

Owned by Monkey Business LLC 

Starting in the Green Pony Hunters in 2008 with ribbons under saddle, over fences,and overall with Brittni Raflowitz, Mind Your Step has made an impressive ten trips to Pony Finals. Currently leased by Artemis Equestrian LLC, he competes with Dylan Clark in the Medium Pony Hunters. Other riders have included: Alexandra Smith, Riley Newsome, Ella Duffy, Lauren Gee, Hannah Famulak, Taylor Cawley, and Lilly Carella.

Clovermeade Bunny Side Up

CLOVERMEADE BUNNY SIDE UP

Age 20 

Owned by Ellie Ferrigno
(Clovercrofts Hero of the Heart x Clovercrofts Immagination)

Known as The King to current rider Reilly Robertson, this team also qualified for Devon. It is not Clovermeade’s first time at Pony Finals, though. This year will be his 13th trip. Been there and done that, he has faithfully carried many riders to success. “He’s very sweet and generous… and very smart. I like that he takes care of me. He’s a lot of fun; I can jump a lot of things on him,” says Robertson. 

WEEBISCUIT

Age 22 

Owned by Izzy Beisel 

Standing at 12.1 hh, this diminutive pony is currently paired with Annabelle Wexler, and they compete in the Small Pony Hunters. Prior partners include Sophie Gochman, Gabriella Hoard-West, Izzy Beisel, and Caroline Parker. 

Rollingwood’s Knee Deep

ROLLINGWOOD’S KNEE DEEP

Age 20 

Owned by the Lignelli Family
(JD Cops and Robbers x Rollingwoods Lorna Doone) 

One of the winningest ponies of all time with multiple tricolors at every top show, “Henry” was only missing the Championship at USEF Pony Finals to complete his string. This changed in 2021 at age 19 with lessee Lauren Zarnegin—she scored that title on her very first time in the Small Pony Hunters. The pair are making the trek from California again this year, seeking to defend their 2022 title. “That line has a lot of personality. They are always getting into stuff they probably shouldn’t and are very curious and loving,” says breeder Dr. Ruth Wilburn, DVM.

PICANTE 

Age 23 

Owned by Elizabeth Benchoff 

(Liseter Carnelian x Farnley Hannahlind) 

Picante started in the Small Pony Hunters with Samantha Schaefer. In his storied career and nine trips to Pony Finals, he started careers of top riders including Ashton Alexander, Madeline Schaefer, Coco Fath, Claire Campbell, Rose Campbell, Zayna Rizvi, Maddie Tosh, Mimi Maddock, Lauren Gee, and more before moving to California to partner with Sienna Smith. Taylor Morrow has taken over the reins in late 2021, moving up to the Small Pony Hunter division with numerous tricolors on the West Coast.

MR. MCGREGOR

Age 22 

Owned by Heidi Kenny-Berman 

 (Hillcrest’s Tom Thumb x Hillcrest’s Snow Treasure) 

Registered Section B Welsh as Hillcrest’s Petty Cash and bred by pony breeding legend Marilyn Check of Hillcrest Ponies, Mr. McGregor showed yet again this year that he’s still a fierce competitor. With Sienna Smith, he qualified for the 2022 Devon Horse Show and earned ribbons there. With seven appearances already at Pony Finals, he easily qualified this year, and is looking like he has some big Fall shows in him as well. His riders have included Marshall Reed, Danielle Derisio, Chloe Peebles, Zola Thompson, Ava Berman, and Campbell Brown.

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED

Age 20 

Owned by John Korenak 

Getting his initial start in Training Level Dressage, Reservations Required stepped in Children’s Pony Hunter ring in December 2009. After two shows, he’d already moved up to the Green Pony Hunters in early 2010, and earned his way to Pony Finals ribbons in all three phases of the Large Green Pony Hunters that year. He went on to contest at Pony Finals in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018. Among his riders: Gabrielle Sharlow, Juliette Callam, Natalie Jayne, Abigail Brayman, and Maddy Darst.

Benlea Mizzou

BENLEA MIZZOU

Age 20 

Owned by Katherine Mercer 

(Pennwood Missouri x Benlea Sea Tango)

This Gatorade-loving pony has always been a superstar in the ring, winning his first Small Pony Hunter Under Saddle at Pony Finals with Olivia Markman in 2015 (pictured). Known as “Mazzy,” he repeated this feat in 2019 (at age 17) with Katherine Mercer and is now a winning pair with Robert Mercer. The gelding has left many riders with lasting memories of their time together and his huge stride set them all up for big junior hunter, equitation, and jumper successes. Among his riders: Allison Dendtler, Gabrielle Alecia, Hannah Hoch, Juliette Propp, and Clara Propp.

Flyer Miles

FLYER MILES

Age 21 

Owned by Natalie Sanders 

This chestnut pony is definitely a lady’s man. “Flyer Miles is a little pony with a big heart and personality! He is the best teacher who will do anything to take care of his little kid. Miles is a perfect gentleman and has earned the love of so many little girls, moms, and trainers over the years,” said owner Natalie Sanders. Ellis Chin is the current rider of the flashy pony. The pair also qualified for Devon.

Northwind Just Josh’n

NORTHWIND JUST JOSH’N

Age 24 

Owned by Madeline Luddy
(Cusop Jovial x Belvour Mirabelle)

Many have heard the name of this grey pony, who competes with Luddy in the Medium Pony Hunters. Just 13.0 hh, Northwind Just Josh’n keeps up with his larger competitors. Nothing stops this little pony from being the top of his class with all his riders including Alexandra Joseph, Mary Frances Looke, David Crowley, Zoe Lampert, and Isabelle Collister.

“Josh is the sweetest, kindest and most adorable pony ever! His personality is larger than life; he’s always doing something funny….he is such a character! He loves my Mom the most and is always looking for treats from her! Joshy Pants turned 24 this year! He took a vacation from showing in late December 2021 through April 2022; we showed last year to end up 5th in the country in the mediums !  He’s back in the groove and we just competed at Devon! We have the West Coast Pony Championship coming up in June.  We are so thankful to Emily Elek for matching me with Josh!” – Maddy Luddy

GOODNIGHT MOON

Age 25 

Owned by Emma Lena Green 

A quarter-cenury and still shining. This grey gelding competes with Zara McGuigan in the Children’s Pony Hunters and Itty Bitty Jumpers. Over his career, Goodnight Moon has been known to fit the bill when riders need a safe and easy mount. Before McGuigan, he was ridden by Paige Caito, Gabrielle Morin, Taylor Cawley, and owner Emma Lena Green.

ALADDIN

Age 22 

Owned by Kyra Grimm 

Aladdin is one magical ride. Owner Kyra Grimm shows the 14.1 hh gelding in the Large Pony Hunters, especially around her home state of Texas. Blue is Aladdin’s color, as he’s racked up many top ribbons with his partner.

HELICON BUCCANEER

Age 25 

Owned by Molly Rinedollar 

(Glannant Epic x Glannant Vela) 

With such a quiet disposition, you would never guess this pony is still jumping into the top five in almost every class he enters. “Buc is the superstar at shows and walked away with multiple championships in the hunters, English Pleasure, and even Western Pleasure,” says his owner, Molly Rinedollar. “Even at the age of 25, Buc will always give you his best,” says his onetime rider, Jocelyn Wille. “He is always happy to do his job and will do it with enthusiasm. You can always learn something from riding him.” 

Halisko

HALISKO

Age 21 

Three Ships LLC

(Halifax x My Sunshine) THREE SHIPS LLC

A Medium Pony Hunter champion, Halisko has earned his share of wins with rider Peyson Parker. With his shiny bay coat and long stride, this pony is one to catch your
attention. The pair also qualified for Devon. 


*This story was originally published in the August 2022 issue of The Plaid Horse. Click here to read it now and subscribe for issues delivered straight to your door!

*The Plaid Horse last ran this feature in 2017. Click here to read that edition.

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