Lexington, Ky.— If the team final round from the U.S. Pony Jumper Championship had a theme song, it would have to be Timber by Kesha.
It was a rough night for the little equines and their riders in the Alltech Arena—seven teams of four riders and one team of three contested the championship, but only two teams had enough pony/rider pairs complete the course and finish a team. Rails, refusals and run-outs came often over what proved to be a tough course in the Alltech Arena, but the west coast team from Zone 10 showed their grit to come out on top with the win.
“It feels really good,” Zone 10 team member Avery Kim, 15, said. Kim rode Joel to two double clear rounds in the team final.
Joining Kim on team double clear was her teammate Tabitha Okitsu and Spoot De La Jourlais. Okitsu was also clear in the opening round (Kim had 4 faults) and will go into Saturday’s individual final tied for first place.
“I’ve had Spoot since December and he’s just the perfect pony, I love him,” Okitsu, 15, said.
Caroline Mawhinney and Silver Dream were the third score that counted toward the team’s winning effort (the team championship at U.S. Pony Jumper Championships is run like a Nations Cup competition with two rounds over identical courses where teams drop their highest fault score in each round).
Mawhinney had the distinction of riding the oldest equine on the team—Silver Dream is 23!
“She came from Europe and she’s amazing, she takes care of me,” Mawhinney, 11, said. “When I mess up she’ll take care of me.”
Mawhinney added that for 23 years old, Silver Dream was “Very awake!”
Sydney Flashman and Karamel were the drop score for the team after being eliminated for refusals in both rounds, but Flashman kept a good team-player attitude about the situation.
“It’s taken a couple years to sort of figure her out and we’re still working on everything,” Flashman said. “She’s really a good girl and a sweet heart, and it gets tough but I know once we figure it out we’ll be a good team.”
The silver medals went to the combined Zone 1/3 team of Katherine Dade riding National Treasure, Isabella Cheers riding Park Avenue, Kiley Ahn riding Root Beer Float, and Lydia Philbrick riding Raisin A Ruckus.
The bronze medals were not able to be awarded because there wasn’t a third team with three riders able to complete the course.