Edited Press Release
Lexington, Va.—Aug. 31, 2023—The sixth annual Kym K. Smith/USHJA Young Hunter Pony Championships – East at Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia, offered $23,500 in prize money to over 300 entries competing on Sunday, August 27. Securing the Overall Grand Champion honors was Custom Vibes (Telynau Royal Charter x Smoken Hot), ridden by Finley Scheffel of Georgetown, Kentucky.
Judges Carleton Brooks and Oliver Brown were impressed by Custom Vibes, a 2017 Welsh cross gelding owned and trained by Nori Scheffel, of Georgetown, Kentucky, and bred by Melissa Jo Hollingsworth, at the top of two divisions held throughout the Championship. Affectionally known as “Statler,” the gelding won the 6- and 7-Year-Olds 2’3” and 6- and 7-Year-Olds 2’6” with Finley in the irons. With two champions under the pair, Custom Vibes added the overall champion title to his resume, taking home an array of awards from USHJA sponsors.
“Winning the overall championship has been a recent goal for me within the past year. It was even more special to be able to accomplish this on a pony that I started myself and he quickly became family from the start,” Finley said of her win. “I have been to Kym K Smith/Young Hunter Pony Championships three times now and have won multiple tricolors on many different ponies, most catch rides, but have always been shy of the overall.”
“I think the best part about Young Pony championships is that everyone is so welcoming and all about developing genuine young ponies,” Finley continued. “It is such an inviting show because any division you go in, you are in a level playing field no matter the age group or height of the fences. It is always a privilege to be able to take young prospects to a championship event that is quite literally made for them.”
A true family affair, Finley and Custom Vibes train at their home farm, Sheffelridge Farm, in Paris, Kentucky, with her mom, Nori. The pair have goals to compete and make an impression at the 2024 USEF Pony Finals, Presented by Honor Hill Farms.
“To say I am proud of this young lady and her dedication to her ponies is an understatement. Finley can be found down at the barn getting her rides in before school, which starts at 7:45 a.m. The win on this pony is particularly exciting because we have had him since he only had a couple of rides on him and all the work has been done by Finley to get him to where he is now,” said owner and trainer, Nori. “The pride her dad and I have in her is unmeasurable. Custom Vibes is a character and he loves that kid.”
“The mileage is so very important for these youngsters,” Nori continued. “We absolutely love going to this horse show and to come out as Grand Champion was so very rewarding for our whole family.”
The USHJA congratulates the following division champions at the 2023 event:
5-Year-Old and Under Under Saddle
- Champion – Secret Agent (Rotherwood Bo Jangle x Shelby Secret), a 2020 British Riding Pony stallion owned and trained by Alexia Hutchens, bred by Barbara Chappel, and ridden by Hadley Hoeft
- Reserve Champion – Royal Monet (Telynau Royal Charter x Orchard Hills Fancy That), a 2019 Welsh mare owned and trained by Missy Jo Hollingsworth, bred by Cindy Bolen, and ridden by Lilly Herzog
4- and 5-Year-Olds 2′
- Champion – Boca’s Bolero (Entrouage x Foxmoore Sweet Cheeks), a 2018 Welsh cross gelding owned and bred by Ponies & Palms Stables, trained by Leslie Pack, and ridden by Marielle Golden
- Reserve Champion – Boca’s Gucci Blue (Entrouage x Raquel), a 2018 Welsh cross gelding owned and bred by Ponies & Palms Stables, trained by Leslie Pack, and ridden by Lilly Herzog
4- and 5-Year-Olds 2’3″
- Champion – Goodness Knows (Bliss MF x Ellie Saab), a 2018 Weser-Ems gelding owned by Catherine Ludwig, bred by South Point Farms, trained by Brooke Brown and ridden by Annabell Brown
- Reserve Champion – Royal Candyland (Telynau Royal Charter x Orchard Hills Fancy That), a 2018 Welsh mare owned, bred and trained by Missy Jo Hollingsworth, and ridden by Lilly Herzog
6- and 7-Year-Olds 2’
- Champion – Annings Intuition (Small Land Martello x Northwind Just Guess), a 2017 British Riding Pony mare owned, bred, and trained by Morgan Shortt and ridden by Caralyn Elliott
- Reserve Champion – Royal Allure (Telynau Royal Charter x Harley), a 2017 Half Welsh gelding owned and trained by Missy Jo Hollingsworth, bred by Salina Messman, and ridden by Lilly Herzog
6- and 7-Year-Olds 2’3”
- Champion – Custom Vibes (Telyunau Royal Charter x Smoken Hot), a 2017 Welsh gelding owned and trained by Nori Scheffel, bred by Missy Jo Hollingsworth, and ridden by Finley Scheffel
- Reserve Champion – Royal Theodosia (Telynau Royal Charter x VRF Cheers), a 2017 Half Welsh mare owned and trained by Missy Jo Hollingsworth, bred by Denise Hankinson, and ridden by Lilly Herzog
6- and 7-Year-Olds 2’6”
- Champion – Custom Vibes ridden by Finley Scheffel
- Reserve Champion – Royal Theodosia ridden by Lilly Herzog
Adults on Ponies 7-Year-Old and Under, Presented by Missy Jo Hollingsworth and Saddle Lake Equestrian Center
- Champion – Windsor Jubilee (Picturesque Forma Attire x Queen Arapaho), a 2019 Welsh cross gelding owned by Laurie Powers and ridden and trained by Tara Deckel
- Reserve Champion – Lottery (Longacre Showtime x Lizzie Quinn), 2018 German Riding Pony stallion owned by Elisabeth Mesiarik, bred by Denise Williams, trained by Constance Mesiarik and ridden by Isabelle Mesiarik
A number of special awards were also presented, including:
- Leading Owner: Missy Jo Hollingsworth
- Leading Trainer: Missy Jo Hollingsworth
- Leading Breeder: Missy Jo Hollingsworth
- Get of Sire: Telynau Royal Charter
- Produce of Dam: Orchard Hills Fancy That
- Style Award: Lilly Herzog
- Best Child Rider: Eddyn Molden
- Leading Junior Owner/Rider: Ellie Welte
- High Point Belgian Riding Pony – Weekend News (Iceburg OBF x Christmas Rose), a 2018 Belgian Riding Pony gelding owned and ridden by Alice Haney, trained by Cammie Fielding
- High Point Virginia-Bred Pony – Secret Agent
- High Point Weser-Ems – Goodness Knows
- High Point Westfalen German Riding Pony – Lottery
- High Point Welsh Pony for each section:
- 5-Year-Old and Under Under Saddle – Secret Agent
- 4- and 5-Year-Olds 2’3″ – Royal Candyland
- 6- and 7-Year-Olds 2’ – Royal Allure
- 6- and 7-Year-Olds 2’3” – Custom Vibes
- 6- and 7-Year-Olds 2’6” – Custom Vibes
- Overall High Point Welsh – Custom Vibes
The Kym K Smith/USHJA Young Hunter Pony Championships has recently expanded into two championships on the East Coast and centrally with the aim to develop the Hunter Breeding sport and create opportunities for current and new owners, breeders and handlers to showcase talented young Hunter pony prospects. The Championships feature competition for ponies aged 7 and under with most sections comprised of a model, under saddle and over fences classes. Classes are open to Juniors, excluding the popular Adults on Ponies division open to Amateurs and Professionals.
The new central championship will take place during the Texas Rose Classic at the Texas Rose Horse Park in Tyler, Texas, on September 13-17.
The USHJA extends a special thanks to the Virginia Horse Center Foundation, Manager Keedie Leonard and Secretary Marianna Wade for hosting the Championships; to Kym K Smith for her title sponsorship; and to Missy Jo Hollingsworth and Saddle Lake Equestrian Center for presenting the Adults on Pony division. The USHJA also thanks Official Sponsors CWD, Nutrena and Parlanti; award sponsors Essex Classics, Boy-O-Boy Bridleworks and Floral Wreaths by Susan Garrett; and class supporters Virginia Pony Breeders Association, Farnley Farm, Foxlore Farm, Melinda Snyder with Partly Cloudy and Hunter’s Haven Farm.
For more information about the Kym K. Smith/USHJA Young Hunter Pony Championships, visit ushja.org/YHPC.
Photos: SDH Photography, Provided by Nori Scheffel