The background of this image—fleets of golf carts, tons of bedding, parking lots of trucks and horse trailers, plus busy grooms and working students—is a good reminder of the effort that goes into the equestrian experience happening in the foreground.
The start of August marked Pony Finals 2021 (and a partial re-do of the aborted Pony Finals 2020.) Unlike recent years in the Walnut Ring, this year’s Pony Finals was held in Kentucky Horse Park’s dramatic Rolex Arena—and I was there with media credentials for The Plaid Horse.
Getting the show up and running meant moving a lot of resources, like the stack of bedding here, around the Horse Park… But the result was occasionally some unfortunate traffic jams.
Rails for jumps, likewise, were stacked up and ready to go.
The pony model classes happened relatively early on in the competition. Though spectators crowded the rails, stewards monitored them carefully to prevent any coaching of the young competitors.
Achieving victory in the model has a lot to do with conformation. Front legs should be even with one another.
When the class ended, the competitors exited beneath the massive Rolex sign.
Just outside the Arena was an area for warm up and golf-cart parking.
…Then exit the Arena in an orderly fashion when the class has ended. The pool of competitors in some divisions was so large that they were broken into multiple groups.
While some ponies were in the ring, others were in the schooling ring for trials.
With horses and ponies involved in all kinds of activities, the Horse Park had a festival atmosphere.
Small ponies look even smaller in front of big signage.
And the huge Rolex Arena looks even bigger with a small pony in it.
At the end of the day, though, this is ultimately about what pony and rider can do together in the ring.
Fences on fences on fences.
The list of what pony is in what class… While this board might be small at some shows, here most divisions number in the dozens.
A bird’s eye view of the warm-up ring.
So many ponies are on the grounds that tents are used to supplement stall space.
Bath time outside the tent. Drying off the pony after washing is important to prevent overheating on humid summer days.
Back at the cottage, the trailer rests before another day as “pony taxi service”.