National Dressage Pony Cup

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Compiled by Nancy Brannon

After cancellation of the 2020 show because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual National Dressage Pony Cup and Small Horse Championships welcomed almost 200 ponies and small horses to this year’s competition on July 16-18, 2021 at the National Equestrian Center in Lake St. Louis, Missouri. Dressage tests offered ranged from Introductory through FEI levels, plus Musical Freestyle. There were also Breed Awards for ponies and small horses, and all breeds of ponies and small horses were eligible. FEI 4* judge Michael Osinski officiated at his first Pony Cup.

There were also four perpetual trophies awarded: The Rachel King Perpetual Trophy recognizes the Haflinger small horse or pony with the highest single score over both days, this year won by Elizabeth Ketterer and Taavi (74.842%). The Neil Sorum Perpetual Trophy recognizes the Fjord small horse or pony with the highest single score over both days, won by Lauren Chumley and LTW Sweet Autumn (74.049%) this year. The Power Play Perpetual Trophy recognizes the Arabian pony with the highest single score over both days, this year won by Roberta Eisenberg and Skats Magnum Star (75.250%). And the Avatar’s Jazzman Perpetual Trophy went to a Morgan with the highest single score over both days: Forsite Renoir, owned and ridden by Debra Mgonigle (75.765%).

Competitor Spotlights
Kelli Agnew of Pell City, Ala. had been out of the saddle for decades when she decided to bring a horse back into her life. She went shopping for a nice gelding suitable for dressage, but the breeder at the stable where she was shopping introduced her to a lovely 4-year-old mare. When the mare came out of the stall, “I was taken aback because the mare was almost the mirror image of my old gelding, and then my jaw dropped because her gaits were so beautiful,” Kelli remembered. “We drove home and, while I kept thinking about how the gelding was cute and sweet, I never could get the mare out of my mind.” Eventually after looking at several other horses, Kelli bought the mare. “At that point, I knew that she was supposed to be in my life,” said Kelli. At this year’s show, Agnew and her now 12-year-old, 15-hand mare named Jovee Mercedez competed in the First and Second Level Adult Amateur divisions for Small Horses, earning a Reserve Championship Pony Cup title at First Level. Kelli is also pursuing her USDF Bronze Medal.

One of the fan favorites at the National Dressage Pony Cup was Mustang Sally, an approximately 12-year-old, 14.2-hand Mustang mare. “Sally was truly wild, and after being rounded up she was held in a holding pen for five years until she was rescued and then went on to compete in the Mustang Makeover competition,” explained Torie Bonsack of Foristell, Mo., who rode the mare in First and Second Level Open divisions. “She is now owned by 78-year-old Margarette Fuleihan, and they make a great team as Sally takes care of her. Margarette had always wanted to see her compete in the Pony Cup, to show off her skills and athleticism. Sally knows her job in the dressage ring, and she does it well. Sally is the perfect example of how Mustangs can become one of the best things in someone’s life!” Torie and Sally were seventh in First Level Open Pony (average score 64.354%) and fourth in Second Level Open Pony (high score of 60.122%). Mustang Sally was the Mustang breed champion with an average score of 68.354%.

Winner of the Intro Junior Pony division was11-year-old Bennett McWhorter with his Welsh pony Cracker Jack with a high score of 70.625% on Friday. Ben & “Jack” started out doing hunter/jumper shows together, but once they tried dressage, they were hooked! They came to their very first Pony Cup from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and took Reserve Champion High Score Test award in the Jr. division with a score of 70.625%.

A stunning roan/sabino horse confidently trots into the dressage ring. Meet Full Moon Rising, a five-year-old 15.2-hand off-the-track Thoroughbred gelding, owned and ridden by professional trainer Marsha Hartford Sapp of Tallahassee, Fla. “He is my 2021 Retired Racehorse Project(RRP) Thoroughbred Makeover horse who has been in training with me for six months after coming off the track,” Sapp explained. While “Mooney” made a splash in the race world for his rare coloring, he wasn’t fast enough to find his way to the winner’s circle in ten starts as a three- and four-year-old. Now he’s found his true calling in a different sport. “This year Mooney and I are competing in USEF/USDF dressage competitions, and it turns out he also excels in Western Dressage. Currently he is ranked #2 in the nation for USEF Western Dressage and #1 for Western Dressage Suitability. He is qualified for and will compete at the World Championships for Western Dressage later this year, as well as continue working towards qualifying scores for USDF Regionals and All-Breeds awards.” Mooney and Sapp earned top honors in the Small Horse Intro, with a high score of 78.000%, on their path to this fall’s RRP in Kentucky.

Elizabeth Ketterer of Suttons Bay, Michigan is a full-time bedside nurse in a busy intensive care unit. But, “Going to the barn and riding my pony is the perfect thing to help me ‘heal’ after caring for critically ill patients during a 12-hour shift,” Ketterer explained. Her National Dressage Pony Cup partner was her 14-year-old Haflinger gelding Taavi, and the pair compete this weekend in the Third Level Adult Amateur division. “Taavi has a typical Haflinger ‘head of hair’,” Ketterer laughed. “When I bought him, I re-named him ‘Taavi’ which means ‘dearly loved,’ and he most certainly is.” Liz and Taavi were Third Level Adult Amateur Pony winners (65.421% average) and they won the Rachel King Perpetual Trophy.

Mid-South Rider Highlights
Nora Goldfarb, new “A” Pony Clubber from Middle Tennessee Pony Club, and Ridgetop Royal Locket won Reserve High Score Test in the Young Rider division with a score of 64.634%. Nora and Ridgetop Royal Locket also won the Second Level Young Rider Small Horse division with an average score of 64.103%.

Nora commented on the show:  “Maddie (Ridgetop Royal Locket) and I were the Second Level Young Rider Champions in the small horse division. Maddie is 15.3h, which put us in the small horse category so we were competing against horses 14.3h-16h. The NDPC is a great show and features all sorts of breeds and types – all doing the same job. We had fairly good tests despite the pretty rainy and/or buggy weather. We also did our first Third Level test and won the YR class with a USDF bronze medal qualifying score. I’m hoping to keep working at Third Level with Maddie, with the goal to do Fourth Level at some point. One thing I really love about my horse is getting to do such a variety of disciplines. Two weeks ago Maddie and I did the 1.05m jumpers at Brownland and the Brownland Hunter Derby, and this weekend we did the Pony Cup. Now we’ll gear up to do Preliminary at Millbrook and the 2* at Great Meadow in August.”

Alexandra Du Celliee Muller and Fern RC won the Fourth Level Open Small Horse division with an average score of 68.326%. The pair also won the Grade Breed award on an average score of 78.326%.

Jennifer Van De Loo and Notre Dame were three-time winners at the Pony Cup. They won the First Level Adult Amateur Pony division (average score 72.054%). They won the Second Level Adult Amateur Pony division (high score 71.905%). Jennifer and Notre Dame were Reserve Champion High Score Test in Adult Amateur (72.857%).

Jenny and Duke of the Dawn won the FEI Prix St. George Adult Amateur Pony division (high score 67.059%), and received the New Forest Pony breed award (average score 77.839%).

Jennifer wrote to us about her experience: “This was my very first Pony Cup and I had a blast! So many ponies! We had such a supportive group with River City Training stables, and this group had multiple Champions!

“Our trainer Alex du Celliee Muller won the 4th level Open small horse with her mare Fern; Aislin Falasco won the 2nd level and FEI pony JR; and I got so lucky by winning 1st, 2nd and PSG AA on my stunning pony partners!

“Duke of the Dawn is an 11-year-old gelding whom I imported in 2018 from the Netherlands. Notre Dame is an 8-year-old mare whom I imported from Germany in 2019. I buy my ponies sight unseen, so there is always some luck involved. But I can say for sure – I am lucky!

“Saturday Notre Dame and I won the high point award with a nice gift basket from Pyranha, and ended up with reserve high point AA (Adult Amateur) for the entire show! Duke of the Dawn also earned the New Forest Breed award.

“The show was very well run. We had to fight the weather some on Friday, as it rained throughout the night, but we did it and we did it well!

“We got well fed throughout the competition with a Pizza party Friday night and a hosted dinner event Saturday night. We never left the show grounds!

“I can’t wait for next year’s Pony Cup! We had so much fun and are thankful for Jenny Carol for putting on this show to bring the pony community together. Pony POWER!”

Find full results from this year’s show at:

Thanks to Yellow Horse Marketing, Endless Options Photography, and the National Dressage Pony Cup, John Borys Photography, Jenny Van De Loo, and Nora Goldfarb for sharing their photographs from this year’s event.

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