The literal road to Pony Finals

Noel and I jogging during the model phase of the Medium Pony division of 1990’s Pony Finals.Image

August 1990. 

Noel (Hillcrest Blue Raven) and I finished our last class at the Traders Point Charity Horse Show in Zionsville, Indiana and dashed back to the tent where we were stabled, which was at least a million miles away from the pony ring.  I was so excited I didn’t even wait around to hear how I pinned over fences, and I’m pretty sure I galloped my pony all the way back to her stall. Tack was thrown into my mom’s diesel suburban, braids were ripped out of Noel’s mane with little regard for the next poor soul who had to deal with my hack job, legs were wrapped and we loaded her onto the semi with three other ponies – we were headed to pony finals!!!

My mom jumped behind the wheel, put the pedal to the metal and we were on our way to the Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. This was my very first Pony Finals and I was riding in the Mediums and the Medal finals. Imagine you just fed a 13 year old a cup of sugar washed down by a liter of Red Bull – that was my approximate level of hysteria and excitement to get to Kentucky. My mom had promised we’d make it in time for the opening night “Rules & Regulations” reception in the indoor arena.

I need to explain just one thing I’ve alluded to in earlier posts – my mom hates driving. Hates it. (And in all honesty, keeping her from getting behind the wheel is in everyone’s best interest! Love you mom.) She despises driving on the highway so much that once she and my grandmother managed to get the 10 or so miles from my Aunt’s house in Delafield, WI to the mall in Brookfield taking only small back roads. No easy feat, definitely the long way around. So to ask my mom to push it to the limit on a busy highway she had never driven before was quite the request.

But moms always know how important these things are to their kids. And my mom never let me down. She grabbed that steering wheel and white knuckled it all the way to Lexington. We started making hash marks on the dash for every semi we passed, when I said I had to go to the bathroom, she told me I could wait – because come hell or high water, she was getting her daughter to that reception on time!

Of course, we made it. With at least 5 minutes to spare. And I will never ever forget walking in to that arena, receiving my official 1990 Pony Finals t-shirt, and sitting down to (not) listen to the rules governing the next 4 days of competition. I was at Pony Finals with the top pony riders from across the country. The Olympics of ponies, the thing you dreamed of every time you went in to the show ring – would this be my chance to qualify? I was there!!!

I quickly found my other horse show friends from the Midwest and soon we were a wild herd of pre-teens cantering around the walkways of the arena, jumping over cracks and demonstrating the perfect lead change to each other, like only pony riders can do. But my mom got me there in time to do that, to have the entire experience, to live out my dream – even if it scared the living daylights out of her to do so. I hope she had a drink or two that night!

ImageTiffany, a pony I borrowed to ride in the Medal Finals that year.



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