In 1976, the American Horse Shows Association launched Pony Finals as a national event, open to all members who met the qualifying criteria. As a longstanding tradition, the USEF Pony Finals is the most prestigious and celebrated event of its kind in the United States. The event takes places in Lexington, Kentucky and features the Regular Hunter Pony and Green Hunter Pony finals, a three phase competition judging the pony’s conformation, way of moving and jumping ability.
The Marshall & Sterling/USEF Pony Medal Final tests young riders’ equitation, judging their ability to compete over a technical and challenging course of fences. As junior riders dream of competing in the Grand Prix ring one day, the USEF Pony Jumper Championship was designed to build the foundation for this.
Mentally and physically Pony Finals can be an exhausting event, especially for parents. It is critical to be sure you and your team are mentally and physically prepared for this exciting event. This year, Pony Finals is August 8- August 12, 2018 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.
- Pack extra competition apparel: go through your trainer’s checklist from the barn and make sure you have everything you need for this top event. Be sure to pack extra shirts and pants (just in case!) Riders will need everything from their breeches and riding shirts, to stock ties, gloves, and shad bellies.
- Polish those boots! Make sure the tops of the toes and calves are extra shiny. This is an event you’ll definitely want to stand out in the crowd.
- Get enough rest: make sure you and your child are in bed early the night before the big event. Even if the class goes late in the day, it’s best to get to the show and watch the course in the divisions prior to plan the best ride.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Pony Finals is during the month of August, where temperatures can be pretty hot. Overly hydrate on the trip up and during the event to keep your body in top condition.
- Eat a nutritious meal: eating a well-balanced meal the night before Pony Finals will help energize you and young riders for this exciting event. Try to eat plenty of greens and protein while avoiding sweets the night before.
- Take deep breathes: Pony Finals can be one of the most nerve wracking events due to the level of competition, pressure kids are under, and the environment. Taking deep breathes and meditating before entering the ring can be a calming exercise to help both horse and rider with nerves.
- Have Fun: Remember to motivate your young rider and explain that this event is mostly about ‘having fun’. Don’t be discouraged if your pony acts up, or if your rider ‘chips a jump’, it’s about the experience and meeting up with the top ponies in the country.