Quick: You’re in the work-off of a major equitation final, and the judge asks you to turn on the haunches. What do you do?
If you’re Olivia Woodson, it doesn’t matter that “turn on the haunches” isn’t exactly a command pony riders hear in equitation classes every weekend. She hears it in her lessons with Charlie Moorcroft and Geoff Teall every time out.
At USEF Pony Finals, the in-gate staff don’t let the ring sit empty for a second. So when Emma Kurtz trotted into the ring for the large pony hunter over-fences class on Westside, the previous pony’s score hadn’t been announced. As Kurtz struck a canter, the crowd erupted into hooting and hollering as the marks for Aleece Jarman and Valentino—87.2, 83.5 and 84.5—were announced.
Fourteen-year-old Cooper Dean and bright-eyed American Hero won Pony Nation’s heart at the USEF Pony Jumper Championships. “Hero” wowed with his fast pace and form over fences, while Dean delighted spectators with his fist-pumping and waving after each clear round on their way to the individual national title at USEF Pony Finals.
In the three months leading up to USEF Pony Finals, Hana Bieling developed a ritual. Every day she would look up at the calendar, and count down the days until she would get to see Canterbrook Prince Charming at the Kentucky Horse Park.