BY Hannah Fichter
Fire Cracker let his personality loose in the ring at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair on Monday, May 29, 2023. The miniature paint pony took the Devon arena by storm, placing first out of seven in the Single/Pair Pony Pleasure Turnout Opportunity and placing reserve champion in the division. He walked into the ring as a newbie and exited as a showstopper.
The miniature pony went from being a pet for kids to participating in the driving world. When Halle O’Keefe was seventeen years old, Fire Cracker was for sale. O’Keefe refused to let him go to anyone else. She begged her parents to let her buy him. Eventually, they caved, and he has been with her ever since.
Although O’Keefe comes from the jumper world, she has begun to focus on driving with Fire Cracker. He has shown himself as a mischievous character with a big personality. He occupies himself daily by causing trouble around the barn, opening the stall doors, and letting out the horses.
When he isn’t causing trouble, he is in the arena showing off his talent. His first time in the show ring was a success. O’Keefe was unsure how he would react, but he exceeded her expectations.
“It was my first time doing a driving class,” said O’ Keefe. “The week before the competition, I was going around to everybody asking what they’re going to ask me to do because I had no idea what I was doing when I went into that ring.”
When they got to the showgrounds, they immediately went to the warmup ring to get Fire Cracker acclimated to the environment. There was no way of knowing how he would react since this was his first show experience.
“He was moving beautifully,” said O’Keefe. “We had people watching him from all over taking videos.”
The show ring was filled with uncertainties. Each step of the way, O’Keefe was unsure if Fire Cracker would come through and complete the task asked of him.
“I had no idea what I was doing, but they asked for the extended trot, and I had no idea if he was going to do it or not,” said O’Keefe. “He was just wonderful.”
When Firecracker was announced as the class winner, the air was filled with excitement. O’Keefe’s family and friends in the stands burst out in cheers.
“We went in for the lineup, and I knew he wasn’t going to stand,” said O’Keefe. “That’s Fire Cracker.”
After the pleasure class, they still had to complete the scurry. Although Fire Cracker was tired, he pulled out a second wave of energy to show off for the crowd.
“I swear he heard the people in the grandstand, and he just started moving,” said O’Keefe. “He went through the starting line, and he just kept going. I mean, I wanted him to go fast, but he was going much faster than I was expecting!”
The performance of Firecracker was unexpected. For his first show ever, he came out with such prominence and crushed the expectations O’Keefe set for him. Fire Cracker knew what he needed to do and got it done.
O’Keefe intends to continue competing in driving with Fire Cracker and return to Devon next year. She wants to continue learning as much as possible and plans to participate in driving clubs and groups to better her and Fire Crackers’ careers.