Pony Finals Mega 2021/2020

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.

Pony Finals in the Rolex Arena

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.

Fork(Lift)ing Traffic

Rails for jumps, likewise, were stacked up and ready to go.

Rail(s) Down

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.

Watching the Model

Carleton Brooks and Piper Klemm were among the spectators.

Mutual Respect

Achieving victory in the model has a lot to do with conformation. Front legs should be even with one another.

Pony Finals in the Rolex

When the class ended, the competitors exited beneath the massive Rolex sign.

Exiting the Rolex

Just outside the Arena was an area for warm up and golf-cart parking.

Golf Cart & Warm-Up Ring

Riders stand at attention during an under saddle class.
Awaiting Judgement

…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.

Under Saddle Complete

While some ponies were in the ring, others were in the schooling ring for trials.

Ride on Blake

With horses and ponies involved in all kinds of activities, the Horse Park had a festival atmosphere.

Walking Past the Warm-Up Ring

Small ponies look even smaller in front of big signage.

Warm Up with the Big Sign

And the huge Rolex Arena looks even bigger with a small pony in it.

Wide Rolex Stadium View

At the end of the day, though, this is ultimately about what pony and rider can do together in the ring.

Over Fences at Pony Finals 2021

Fences on fences on fences.

In and Out

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.

Order of Go

A bird’s eye view of the warm-up ring.

Close Golf Cart Parking

So many ponies are on the grounds that tents are used to supplement stall space.

Temporary Barns

Bath time outside the tent. Drying off the pony after washing is important to prevent overheating on humid summer days.

Squeegee Landscape

Back at the cottage, the trailer rests before another day as “pony taxi service”.

Trailer After the Rain in Kentucky

Scenes from the Kentucky Horse Park in Spring

Though “one day, one photograph” is my typical style, the images from my springtime trip to the Kentucky Horse Park (mostly taken while hanging around at the warm-up ring) make a charming slice-of-life set.

Let’s start things off with The Plaid Horse‘s publisher, Dr. Piper Klemm, with Sundae.

Preparing SundaeWhile the warm-up ring is ostensibly a place to practice prior to showing, it also often the location of impromptu meetings and morning strolls.
Morning Walk and ConversationPiper Klemm on Sundae in the warm-up ring.

Schooling Ring Up to Speed

The warm-up is also a place for horses to shake out some energy and get any necessary attitude adjustment.

Chestnut Attitude

Dapples mean a healthy horse.

Dapple Energy

That preparation time made for positive results in the ring. Trainer Emily Elek congratulations Reuben.

Winning Sandwich

It’s bath time for a sweaty horse done with showing.

Bath Time

Compress-air-powered airbag vests are increasingly common on younger riders.

Vest

Early in the morning, the golf carts waited in lines outside the barns—mimicking the positions of nearby horses in their stalls in the barns.

Golf Carts Between Barns

Cell phone videos of warm-up make an exceptionally valuable tool for improvement.

Shade by the Ring

Reuben very occasionally sticks out his tongue and I find it funnier than I should.

Stroll with Tongue Out

A close overlap between conversation-walk and warm-up-canter in the warm-up ring.

Horse Trio

Piper on Reuben.

Surveying the Ring

The pattern of planting boxes reminded me of the pacing of strides riders seek to find approaching a jump.

Box Rhythm

Junior rider Lexi Miller relaxes between rounds.

Trunk Seating

Bridge to Heritage Park

As a child, I was deeply interested in the idea of islands—these isolated, well-defined chunks of land that were separated from everyone else. My favorite LEGO sets were those modeling pirates marooned on desert islands. I wonder what my childhood self would have thought of living in a town with an uninhabited island at its center?

Bridge to Heritage Park

Old Mill and River Reflection

This uninhabited island sits at the center of Canton, New York. While it’s currently a park, the ruins on the island indicate its past as the site of water-powered mills that processed the products of the surrounding farmland. I’m still discovering more of its history, but I’m fascinated by the process that could lead an entire section of a town to be abandoned.

Old Mill and River Reflection

Rapids on the Grasse River in Spring

This image is my submission to the Spring Photo Contest being run by Grasse River Heritage; the river and its associated park are its subject. I delight in being asked to work under requirements—in this case, both a subject and a time of year—because I feel it focuses me. I get to achieve something specific, which adds some delightful pressure to flying my quadcopter around the island.

Rapids on the Grasse River in Spring

Prague and Petřín

Much like Manhattan’s Central Park, Prague’s Petřín is (in part) a demonstration of the will and effort required on the part of a city to maintain green spaces. Once they become part of the city’s identity (as in those aforementioned cases), they exist in a space orthogonal to modern real estate development.

Prague and Petřín