National Dressage Pony Cup

post-title post-title
By Nancy Brannon, with contributions from Nicole Ardito-Ng

Photos by John Borys Photography

The 9th annual National Dressage Pony Cup (NDPC) was held July 8-10, 2016 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY, attracting competitors from 27 states.

On Saturday evening, July 9th, in front of hundreds of dinner guests, the 2016 class of NDPC champions celebrated their success across 23 divisions from Intro to FEI, and represented 16 different breeds and registries. Many more fans from as far away as Australia tuned in to watch the action live on the USEF Network with popular commentary by FEI 5* Judge Axel Steiner.

Kathy Massey’s 12-year-old granddaughter, Caitlyn Massey of Arlington, TN, riding her pony Zassafrass, was the JR/YR First Level Champion, and Zassafrass, “Zoey,” won the Pugsley Award for highest scoring non-registered pony.

Caitlyn and Zassafrass scored a come-from-behind victory in the hard-fought First Level Junior/Young Rider division over Kalie Beckers and Madoc Mari – a win which also earned Zassafrass the coveted Pugsley Award for highest-scoring grade pony (68.759%).

On Friday, July 8, in the JR/YR First Level Test 2, Kalie and Madoc Mari scored 71.094% for first place, just edging out Caitlyn and Zassafrass for second place with a score of 70.312%. But on Saturday, July 9, it was Caitlyn and Zassafrass in first place in the JR/YR First Level, Test 3 with 67.206% and Kalie in second with 65.147%. Caitlyn and Zassafrass were also first in the JR/YR Second Level, Test 1, scoring 62.727%.

“Zoey” is a 10-year-old Welsh-Connemara cross who Caitlyn got about a year ago. Zoey is a former eventing pony, so she has plenty of impulsion and energy. Caitlyn trains with Ally Rogers and Nicole Ardito-Ng at her grandmother Kathy’s Massar Stables near Arlington, TN. Kathy says it’s a real plus to have such a petite person as Nicole also ride and help train Zoey. “I think Nicole is the ideal pony trainer,” Kathy commented.

Kathy said, originally, their plans were to just go and enjoy the show, and she thinks this win surprised them both.
“There were lots of good competitors there,” Caitlyn said, many older than she. “I was going to be happy with my ride regardless of how we scored or placed. But she did very well! The arena was quite wet, and the show had been postponed twice because of rain. I wondered how she would do in the wet arena, but I’m so proud of her for doing great! She likes to show off in the arena, and knows when we’re going down the center line that she’s in a test.”

Caitlyn says Zoey’s best gait is her canter. “She’s really fun in the canter and I was really happy with how she performed in the tests. She did well with her trot lengthening, too.”

With this success under her belt, Caitlyn’s plans are to show at Second Level in next year’s 10th annual National Dressage Pony Cup. But her mid-south fans can watch her ride later this summer at the Ole South Dressage Show in  Murfreesboro, TN, August 26-28, 2016.

Other mid-south riders and horses at the NDPC:
Elizabeth Clifton’s pony MDA Maximus is moving up quickly in the dressage ranks (see Mid-South Horse Review May 2016 article “Livin’ the Good Life.”) He was fourth in the Amateur USDF Introductory Level Test B on Friday July 8, ridden by Kinley Scott, scoring 63.438%. On Saturday July 9, Maximus was third in the Amateur USDF Introductory Level Test C, scoring 62.750% with Kinley Scott. Kinley is the store manager for Top Hats & Under That at Mid-South Dressage Academy (MDA).

Max has only been in training since April of this year and is catching on to dressage rapidly. “Max is Kinley’s project,” said Elizabeth Clifton. “This is her first time, too, going up the levels, although she has some riding experience on the LSU equestrian team.”  Elizabeth says Kinley was at least the best dressed rider at the show!

“We don’t know anything about Max’s history, and there was a lot going on at the Kentucky Horse Park during the show,” Elizabeth said. “But we are super proud of him! He’s going to have a wonderful future! We hope that at next year’s NDPC he will win the Pugsley Award.” Max has been showing at the Introductory Level and won the Intro B test at the MDA June show, scoring 73%!

On Sunday July 10, Kate Wooten won the Amateur First Level, Test 3 with Butterkinz McKinley, scoring 63.235%. Kate was second with Butterkinz McKinley in Amateur Second Level, Test 1, scoring 64.697%.
Find more information about the NDPC show at their website:
For full results of the show, visit

icon Subscribe

to Our Newsletter