Several New Jersey riders were winners at the National Dressage Pony Cup Championshipin Lexington, Ky., which drew entries from 26 states.
Ana DiGironimo’s faith in her Arabian mare Ana Mariah C, paid off with a victory for their The Wizard of Oz-themed Third Level freestyle (66.83percent) at the Kentucky Horse Park.
“When I first saw ‘AM’ in a field, I could see that she was beautiful but was told that she was so bad that no one could ride her,” explained Ana, who owns DQ Performance Horses in Turnersville, N.J.
“I said, ‘I’ll ride her!’ They were right – she was really naughty – but we had a connection from the start, and so it began. I think there are many exciting things ahead for us.”
Lauren Chumley of Pittstown, a regular at the Pony Cup since 2010, was the only competitor to break 70 percent in the Third Level Open division on Friday as she won with Melissa Dowling’s German Riding Pony, Nikolas (70.25 percent). The pair then returned for Fourth Level and once again topped the leaderboard, earning 66.80 percent.
Nikolas, last year’s First and Second Level Open champion, took championships Saturday in both the Third Level Open (69.42 percent) and Fourth Level Open divisions (67.40 percent).
“We haven’t shown him in dressage since Florida, but instead got him qualified for this year’s American Eventing Championships (AECs) at the Novice level,” said Lauren.
“He’s quite the scopey jumper. This was the first time he’s done a Fourth Level test, but he’s just so naturally talented and rideable that it comes easily for him.”
She observed that Fourth Level Test 3 is challenging, but “he went in there and gave me what was perhaps the best Fourth Level test I’ve ever had. He’s just such a cool pony who just rolls with whatever we throw at him.”
Meanwhile, Jessie Hayes of Baptistown rode Lauren’s Fjord mare, FMF Liesl, to the best two-day average score of 67.798% to claim overall Pony Cup championship honors at Training Level.