Underdog Zone 7 Wins the 2008 Adequan/USEF National Pony Jumper Team Championship; 2008 Wild Horsefeathers/USEF Pony Hunter Finals Underway
RELEASE: August 16, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Stacey Meier
Lexington, KY— The third day of the United States Equestrian Federation’s (USEF) 2008 National Pony Finals was an all day affair, starting with the pony hunters throughout the day then transitioning into pony jumpers in the evening. In true form, the pony jumpers added to the excitement of the day with the evening’s championship ending with Zone 7 on top with a total of 4 faults and the fastest team time of 188.037, winning the 2008 Adequan/USEF National Pony Jumper Team Championship.
With a challenging jump course designed by England’s Richard Jeffrey, the top four teams were called back to jump a second round. Those teams included Zones 2, 3, 4, and 7.
Zone 7 had never medaled before in this competition and it was a difference of 17.414 seconds that separated them from Zone 2 since both teams had four total faults. Zone 7 hustled their way to the top to take the Gold with riders Jacob Roberson, 14, from Dubach, LA aboard American Hero; Kayla Briel, 15, from Conroe, TX, riding Skys The Limit; Gabrielle Ploth, 13, of Coppell, TX, on High Voltage; and Breezy Sambola, 10, of Covington, LA, on Wonder Woman.
All the girls on the team for Zone 7 had never met before last night’s competition, though Roberson, one of two boys competing in the competition, had a chance to ride with some of his teammates in the past.
The Silver medal went to Zone 2 with riders Meg O’Mara riding Wild Wild West; Gillian King on Crum Creek; Elizabeth Solomon riding Hip-Hop and Adam Sklansky board EZ To Spot with a team total of four faults and a time of 205.451. Zone 3 captured the Bronze with a total of eight faults.
Briel and her nine-year-old Quarter Horse mare Skys The Limit pulled a rail in the first round but scored a clean round the second time around. Skys The Limit had some health issues leading up to the competition but Briel was able to get her fit and sound to perform her best.
“I’ve had her since she was three and no body else can ride her,” said Briel. “She knows who her mom is!”
Roberson and his 10-year-old gelding American Hero scored a clean round on their first trip but pulled a rail in the second round, however they had one of the fasted times on the team.
“It was fun—it feels good,” said Roberson. “I’ve had him [American Hero} since he was seven and he’s eleven now. I have a pretty good relationship him. He’s a little bit go-ey.”
Ploth, 13, and her 11-year-old Thoroughbred/Welsh gelding High Voltage had only four faults in the evening’s competition. Ploth, who recovered two years ago from a stroke, rode a rare Pure White pony which seemed fitting under the circumstances.
“We had a little bit of trouble this morning,” said Ploth. “He didn’t trust me and I didn’t trust him but we got over that and were able to do a clean round. No one else can really ride him since he is so fast and strong. He’s really pushy but I love him.”
Sambola and Wonder Woman said finally winning “felt really great.” Sambola and her family purchased Wonder Woman shortly after Hurricane Katrina at an auction. They later found out that she had been abused and would stand in the corner of her stall shaking. With a lot of love and kindness, Wonder Woman learned to trust Sambola.
“I’ve had her a long time and I was one of the first people to be able to touch her,” said Sambola. “She used to throw me every time I rode her. I fooled with her all the time and now I’m one of the only ones who can ride her.”
In the schooling area, Sambola said that she had some trouble with Wonder Woman and ended up getting thrown. This did not seem to rattle Sambola as she ended up scoring two perfect rounds.
“I was just making sure she wouldn’t stop or anything and I rode her really hard,” said Sambola. “She wanted to stop towards the first jump but I wouldn’t let her.”
The riders were not only competing as a team but as individuals as well since this is the second of three phases for the individual championship which will conclude this evening.
Earlier in the day, the model and under saddle portion of the 2008 Wild Horsefeathers/USEF Pony Hunter Finals (small, medium, large) began with a total of 292 competitors— up significantly from 2007 and this year’s largest championship. Finishing the day in the top spot for the large pony hunter division was 10-year-old Victoria Colvin and Scott Stewart’s bay Welsh-Cross gelding For The Laughter, with the top combined score of 541.50.
Leading the medium pony hunter division is 11-year-old Lillie Keenan and Neverland with a score of 535. Neverland is an eight-year-old bay German Warmblood gelding owned by Dogwood Hill. In the small pony division, 13-year-old Alexandra Crown of New York, NY, and Rosmel’s Millennium finished with a combined score of 526.50. Rosmel’s Millennium is an eight-year-old Welsh roan gelding owned by Grand Central, Inc.
The 2008 USEF National Pony Finals will conclude Sunday with the USEF Pony Medal.