Imagine being 13 years old and in a national equitation final, the pinnacle of your young career, pitted against 193 other riders. I would probably hide in the port-o-john until it was all over. Olivia Woodson stepped up to the plate.
The U.S. Pony Finals took place last week at the Kentucky Horse Park, drawing top ponies and riders from all over the country to compete in hunter, jumper and equitation championships.
The Pony Medal Final is always hotly contested, and even a small mistake can keep riders from moving on to the next round.
Olivia Woodson of Wellington, Fla., bested the competition with two immaculate jumping rounds followed by a flat work-off that included sitting and rising trot, canter, hand gallop and a turn on the haunches–a movement that tripped up many of the finalists.
From a USEF press release:
“I just wanted to go in and do my best, I love flatting,” said the 13-year-old of her mindset heading into the test. “So when they said turn-on-the-haunches, ‘I just thought well here we go; walk to turn-on-the-haunches to walk.”
Here is one of the jumping rounds that helped her clinch the win:
MORE PLEASE! There’s tons of video coverage on the USEF Network here. Mollie Bailey did a great job covering the show for the Chronicle of the Horse–you can check out her recap of the Medal Finals here.