Competition Off To a Stellar Start on First Day of U.S. National Dressage Pony Cup & Small Horse Championships

The expansive grounds of the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois were buzzing with anticipation and activity as the first day of competition in the 2018 National Dressage Pony Cup (NDPC) and Small Horse Championship Show got underway with 225 entries competing in 51 championship divisions from July 20-22. Even occasional rain showers couldn’t dampen the smiles and excitement as riders of all ages showed off the talents of their smaller-sized mounts in the first of two rounds of competition to determine overall champions.

Riders like 12-year-old Santina Hackett of Argyle, Texas, shown here aboard her POA gelding Robin Hood, had their eyes on the prize on the first day of intense competition at the 2018 National Dressage Pony Cup & Small Horse Championships. Photo by Jennifer M. Keeler.



 Kicking off the day was competition in the Intro Level divisions, where Debra M’Gonigle of Woodstock, Ill. rode her Morgan Montana Jubilee to victory in the Open ranks. The 28-year-old stallion showed no signs of slowing down as he and M’Gonigle impressed the judges for a winning score of 70.313%. In the Adult Amateur division, last year’s champion Belle of the Ball returned to the Pony Cup with a new rider in Laura Miller of Crawfordsville, Ind. and once again the Haflinger mare found the winner’s circle, this time by a 12-point margin on the strength of a score of 72.500%. For juniors age 16 and under at Intro Level, Madeline Chappars of Xenia, Ohio climbed to the top of the leaderboard with Kokovoko Sirocco with 65.938%, while Shelby Swann of Bull Valley, Ill. and Phoenix Rising topped the Young Rider 17-21 age group.

She may only be 13.3-hands tall, but the seven-year-old pony mare Juliet bested 17 others to win today’s Training Level Adult Amateur class on a score of 72.115% with rider Kendra Pomeroy of Hot Springs, Ark. Young rider Michaela Holmes of Oconomonioc, Wis. and her Welsh cross mare Stonewall Georgia topped their division with 70.192%, while Claire Ristow of Kiel, Wis. rode the Welsh cross gelding Harry Potter to earn the blue ribbon in the junior ranks with 68.462%. Also at Training Level, Debra M’Gonigle and Montana Jubilee earned their second blue ribbon of the day with a 74.231% earned from FEI judge Natalie Lamping to take the lead in the Open Training Level division.

Kendra Pomeroy’s pony mare Juliet once again proved to be small but mighty against large fields of rivals as she earned her second straight victory of the day, this time in the First Level Adult Amateur division with 67.813%. Victoria Retamoza of Goshen, Ky. and the Welsh cross mare Butterfly Encounter easily cruised to the top of the leaderboard in the Open First Level ranks on the strength of a score of 70.000%. For young riders, Hayley Jonkman of Lafayette, Ind. rode her Chincoteague pony mare Love Bug to claim the blue ribbon with 66.250%, while Amy Burnham of Maple Grove, Minn. rode her Morgan/Paint cross mare Stella Brillante to win the junior division with 64.063%.

Victoria Moricco of Howell, N.J. and her NASPR gelding Flash were the only combination to break the 70% barrier in claiming the win in the Second Level Adult Amateur division with 73.846%. A perennial winner at the Pony Cup, Lauren Chumley of Pittstown, N.J. added yet another win to her resume, this time with Liam Carter Rowe’s Welsh mare Sham’s Chinaberry to top the Second Level Open division with 71.538%, while for juniors Meredith Denton of Corydon, Ky. and Just G proved to be the best with a score of 67.692%.

Kalie Beckers’ long drive north from Independence, La. paid off as she rode to victory with 65.897% in the first round of Third Level Open competition with her long-time partner and Welsh Cob mare Madoc Mari. In the Adult Amateur division, Shannon Sullivan of Lebanon, Ohio ride her Fjord gelding SNF Bridar to the win with 63.077%, while Daphne Bigelow (Lemont, Ill.) with Kiss Me Kate and Nicholas Beck (Chanhassen, Minn.) aboard Gallod Welsh Thyme topped the Third Level Young Rider and Junior divisions, respectively.

At Fourth Level, young rider Alayna Borden of Lambertville, N.J. had “no worries” as she rode the Oldenburg mare Hakuna Matata to victory in her division with 63.889%, while Ashtyn Brandt of Lemont, Ill. rode her Arabian mare Vikhtoria Bey to win the junior division. Wendy Garfinkel of Flemington, N.J. and Curious Christopher Robin took a solid first-round lead in the Open Fourth Level division with a score of 66.111%, while Shannon Sullivan and SNF Bridar are two-for-two so far in the Pony Cup by taking the win in the Fourth Level Adult Amateur class with 62.432%.

She may be only 14 years old, but Caitlyn Massey of Arlington, Tenn. is riding in her fourth Pony Cup and looking to add even more titles to her resume. With her trusted Welsh cross mare Zassafrass she got off to a great start by topping the FEI Pony Test with a score of 61.929%. For young riders contesting FEI-level tests, Maddie Kanda of Woodbury, Minn. and her Morgan/Holsteiner gelding B-Squared earned a decisive victory with a score of 68.529%. And after traveling all the way from California to attend last year’s Pony Cup, Emily Lasher decided it was a trip well worth making as once again she crossed the country to return to the winner’s circle in the FEI Open division, this time moving up to the Grand Prix level with her 13.2-hand Welsh cross gelding The Hot Topic of Spring Song and earning a top score of 65.543%.


For the first time, small horses measuring under 16 hands found a place to shine as part of the inaugural Small Horse Championships at the National Dressage Pony Cup. First down centerline was Ann Jonkman of Lafayette, Ind. with Mr. Jones, who claimed victory in the Intro Level Adult Amateur division with 61.875%. For young riders at the same level, Brynn Hansen of Mount Horeb, Wis. earned 68.438% for the win with her Pinto mare LRD Peggy Sue Got Married.

At Training Level, junior rider Kylie Brinkley of Valparaiso, Ind. rode her Paint gelding Abiento to win her division with 61.346%, while Brynn Hansen and LRD Peggy Sue Got Married earned their second victory of the day in the young rider ranks with 63.462%. For Adult Amateurs, New Jersey’s Catherine Varettoni and her German Riding Pony gelding Riesling proved to be the best with a score of 67.885%, while in the Open division Alexandra du Celliee Muller of Little Rock, Ark. rode her Thoroughbred mare Fenna RC to victory with 72.115%.

It was a 13-hour drive from Bismarck, North Dakota for Sydney Ebach and her Arabian gelding Ames Explorer, but it proved to be a trip well worth taking as the pair took the lead in the First Level Junior division with 63.125%. For young riders, Rachel Tomczak of Foxboro, Wis. earned the win with 66.719% aboard her Paint gelding Ballys Jax of Spades. In the First Level Open division, Haflinger mare Stevie Nicks scored a big hit with a score of 67.813% to claim the win for owner Beth Sorensen with Julie Madriguera of Pilot Point, Texas in the saddle. For Adult Amateurs, Catherine Varettoni and Riesling continued their winning streak to top their First Level class with a score of 64.844%.

The talented German Riding Pony gelding Marciano topped the Second Level Adult Amateur ranks for owner/rider Margaret Moore of Bloomington, Ill. with 67.179%, while in the Open division the Morgan gelding RG Denmark Royal’s Image couldn’t be caught, earning the win with 65.385% with owner/rider Kate Rawlinson of Lincoln, Neb. At Third Level, Patricia McVary of Springfield, Ill. took the overnight lead in the Adult Amateur division with 64.615% earned aboard her PRE gelding Aureo, while in the Open ranks Jessie Hayes of New Jersey rode Lauren Chumley’s Hanoverian mare Rivendell to top the leaderboard with 68.462%. And in FEI-level competition, Kathryn Fleming-Kuhn of New Berlin, Ill. rode Ida Noll’s PRE gelding Madrono XXXVI to the win with 67.647%, while Oldenburg gelding Rubin Raphael carried owner/rider Judy Ethell of Chesterfield, Mo. to the winner’s circle in the Adult Amateur division.