Ponies, Ice Cream, Rainbows at M&S

By September 23, 2015

Isha Swani and Miss Amazing won the $1,000 Children’s Working Hunter Stake- and were crowned Large Pony Champions. (Photo: ESI)

Pony power was going full bore at the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League National Finals, Sept. 9-13, 2015, at the HITS on the Hudson in Saugerties, NY. The show included special events like an Ice Cream Social and gala awards dinner hosted at the Diamond Mills Hotel restaurant The Tavern. And while it rained a bit, that only meant rainbows for the happy riders that made it to the top of their sport, contending in the national finals.

Marshall & Sterling Children’s Pony Medal Final – Small/Medium

Lucas Mejia-Fanjul and Champlain Celebration, owned by Lauren Reid, were crowned the Marshall & Sterling Children’s Pony Medal Final – Small/Medium division winners after receiving scores of 84 and 95 for a total of 179. Thirty-nine competitors attempted the 11-fence course set by Jerry Dougherty of Bokeelia, FL, and all had intentions of going home with the blue ribbon. The top 12 returned for a second round, testing their mounts over an abbreviated course but it was the eighth entry of the order that got the show on the road. Isabel Massart and Hopscotch, owned by Jody Moraski, rode to an impressive score of 90. Added to her round one score of 82, it gave Massart a total of 172, putting them in the lead. Ready to chase Massart for the top spot, Mejia-Fanjul, who received a round one score of 84, entered the ring eleventh in the order. They finished their trip and received the round high score of 95 to edge into first place. The final entry of the day was Blu Venture Rainbeau owned and piloted by Alexa Lignelli. After receiving the round one high score of 85, Lignelli was ready for a win, but her round two score of 92 and a total of 177 would place her just behind Mejia-Fanjul in second place and in front of Massart in third. Fourth place went to Mia Curtin and Rhyme N’ Reason, owned by Affari Horse Farm LLC. Jessica Guginsky rode her own Sunkissed to a fifth place finish.


Lucas Mejia-Fanjul and Champlain Celebration are the 2015 M&S Pony Medal Final Small/Medium Champs. (Photo: ESI)

Mejia-Fanjul also took home the award for Best Child Rider – Pony, and Champlain Celebration was reserve champion among the Small/Medium Ponies., and with Champlain won the $1,000 Children’s Working Hunter Stake -Pony/Medium. A very good show for Mr. Mejia-Fanjul and co! He is trained by Jenny Martin-Rudaz of the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport, CT.

Marshall & Sterling Children’s Pony Medal Final – Large

Of the 44 riders in the Marshall & Sterling Children’s Pony Medal Final – Large division, Ava Caputo and her own Autumn Frost came out on top. The native of Lloyd Harbor, NY, received scores of 90 and 88 for a total of 178 to bring home the blue ribbon. It was clear that after a competitive first round in which many received scores in the eighties, a true battle of the best would ensue in round two. Ninth in the second round order was Christina DeMattheis and her own Sir Harvey, who received a round one score of 83. In sync throughout the trip they received a score of 84 in the second round, totaling 167 for the lead.

Next to give it a go was Woodland’s Gardenia, owned by Elizabeth Garcia, piloted by Madeleine Flocks. After having received a round one score of 84, they were confident in their craft, but a round two score of 82 gave them a total of 166 to finish one point behind the current leader. Eliza Altman and Versace, owned by Lynn Edens, chased DeMattheis for the top spot and did just that. Receiving a score of 87, added to their first round 89, totaled 176 for the lead.


Ava Caputo and Autumn Frost took blue in the Children’s Medal Final Large Pony division.

Caputo and her mount were the last entry of the class and in perfect harmony, found themselves with a round high score of 90 for a total of 178 and the win, bumping Altman to second, DeMattheis to third and Flocks to fourth. View Caputo’s wining M&S round. She and the lovely red roan pony train with Jessica and Danny Santolaya at Jumper’s Creek in Huntington, NY. Ava and Autumn Frost are on a roll, having just won the Pony Classic at the Harrisburg Horse Show a few weeks earlier.  At Harrisburg, Caputo was Large Children’s Pony Hunters Champion, a title she also won at the Stirrup Cup Finals.

Pony Power: Best of the Rest

Blythe Novick and Clovermeade Brilliantly Bunny topped the field in the $1,000 Children’s Working Hunter Stake – Pony Small (and came in second in the Children’s Working Hunter Stake – Pony Small Championship). Blythe trains with Ruth Nicodemus at Serenity Show Stable. You can watch their smooth wining round here, and also glean insight into Blythe’s technique in this interview with the Behind the Saddle blog.

Robert Elwell and Tiny Tunes, owned by Melissa Gordon, won the $350 Children’s Working Hunter U/S – Pony Small. Robbie and his 9-year-old, 12.2 hand Welsh Pony, turned in a performance all the more impressive for the fact that they have only been competing together less than a year. The pair was captured on  video at HITS on the Hudson in June.


Robbie Elwell and Tiny Tunes won the $350 Children’s Working Hunter Under Saddle Small Pony class.

The Children’s Working Hunter Stake – Pony Small Championship was won by Raina Swani, riding Patchwork Blueberry, owned by Isha Swani. It’s appropriate that little Blueberry’s name includes the word “blue” —  in 2012 the pony piloted Raina’s sister Isha to the Championship in the Children’s Working Hunter Small Pony division at the M&S Finals. This year, Raina also sliced off the winner’s slice of the $650 Children’s Working Hunter – Pony Small pie on Blueberry.

The 2015 Finals would not see Isha Swani go home without a blue ribbon or two of her own: she won the $1,000 Children’s Working Hunter Stake- Pony Large on her own Miss Amazing, beating a field of 48, and was crowned the Large Pony Champion.

Ava Girdusky and her own Rosmel’s Stellar took top honors in the $350 Children’s Working Hunter U/S – Pony Medium division.


Anna Donovan and Morton Best Man, Children’s Working Hunter Stake Medium Pony Champs

Anna Donovan and Morton Best Man won the Children’s Working Hunter Stake-Pony Medium Championship. (Lucas Mejia-Fanjul and Champlain Celebration came in second in this Pony Classic). Anna trains with Heather Gnewuch at West Lane in Brewster, NY. Anna and Morton also won the $650 Children’s Working Hunter – Pony Medium.

Ellie Purinton and All That, owned by Charlotte Kessler, took the blue ribbon in the $350 Children’s Working Hunter U/S – Pony Large. Ellie trains at Stoneymeade Farm in Concord, ME. (Isha Swani and MT Pockets placed second).

Stella Propp and Cherrybrook Skye Blue (owned by Katherine Lebaron) won the  $650 Children’s Working Hunter – Pony Large, a hugely competitive class with a field of 47 contenders. This class was a good one for Isha Swani, who placed third and fourth on her own Miss Amazing and MT Pockets, respectively. Paige Moose and Artwork were second.


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