Ella Endzweig’s success in the Small Pony Hunters is no secret, thanks to Secret Crush, a 10-year-old Welsh Pony Cross, owned by Jill Shulman. On Saturday, October 14, Endzweig rode Secret Crush to both the Small Pony Hunter Championship and the Grand Pony Hunter Championship, sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Gary C. Duffy and Little Brook Farm.
On their way to the dual championship tricolors, Endzweig and Secret Crush, or “Belle,” first earned two second place ribbons and a win over fences – an exponential improvement from their last Pennsylvania National Horse Show appearance.
“I was hoping to go better than last year,” explained 12-year-old Endzweig, of Palm Beach, FL. “I’m pretty sure my highest score last year was like a 71. Even the first round on her, I was just happy that I got like 20 points higher!”
With scores of 89 and 90 turned in on Friday in the Keystone Arena, Endzweig felt the pressure coming into Saturday’s final round in the Harrisburg Coliseum.
“I was kind of nervous because I didn’t want to mess up because I knew I had a chance at being champion,” said Endzweig, who trains with Kyla Makhlogi. “My trainer tells me to breathe a lot because I don’t really like to. Once I got into the ring, I kind of just forgot about yesterday and just rode her, and it worked out.”
Endzweig continued, “It’s really fun [to be at the PNHS] because you watch all the big horses go and jump the Prix des States and then you watch all the tiny ponies go, and you’re one of the tiny ponies!”
For the Grand Pony Hunter Championship, Endzweig was presented with the and Francis E. Armstrong Memorial Challenge Trophy, donated by the Bedard Family, and for the Small Pony Hunter Championship, she was awarded the Knick Knack Challenge Trophy, donated by Christina & Craig Cook and Cook Forage Company.
The Small Pony Hunter reserve championship went to Kenzie Smith and So Enchanted, owned by Sprucedale Inc.
The next division championship of the day in the Pony Hunters, sponsored by Ponies and Palms Show Stables, went to Medium Pony Hunter Cleverist, ridden by Grace Stenbeck-Werner and owned by Ellie Sadrian.
Thanks in part to her hard work with trainer Michael DelFiandra and the team at Grafton Ridge, Stenbeck-Werner earned a first and third over fences, as well as a second place in the under saddle.
“Grace is great, a hard worker,” said Delfiandra. “We do no stirrups just about every day; we’re really aiming at these horse shows this year, so it’s really great to come and have a great result like that. Pressure was on, and she really stepped up to the occasion for that [final] round. She stayed focused. She stayed calm; she executed her plan, and it worked out.”
Stenbeck-Werner added, “It was my second time here on [Cleverist] so I wasn’t too nervous. I was just really excited, and I wanted to do well. Yesterday, was really good. I was first in the handy and third in the second round. I was pretty stressed today, but I didn’t want to get crazy and mess up. I have two other small ponies here, but I was just trying to focus on him because we did really well yesterday.”
Fortunately for Stenbeck-Werner, she also has Cleverist’s experience on her side.
“He’s pretty old, but he’s perfect; He doesn’t act like he’s old,” said Stenbeck-Werner of the 21-year-old Welsh Pony Cross that has previously been ridden to great success by riders including Daisy Farish and Natalie Jayne.
“Scott Stewart I think originally imported [Cleverist],” said Delfiandra. “He’s been just a great old man. We got him a year and a half ago, and just right off the bat, [Grace] she was reserve champion her first horse show on him in the mediums and then champion in the next one. He’s been tried and true for her.”
For the championship, Stenbeck-Werner was awarded the Swamp Girl Challenge Trophy, donated by Brooks and Streett Moore. The reserve championship in the Medium Pony Hunters went to Katherine Mercer and Goldhills As You Like It.
In the Large Pony Hunters, for the second year in a row, the championship honor went to Vivian Golden and Brixton, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker.
An uncharacteristic spook kept Golden and Brixton out of the ribbons in the final over fences class, but with one win and a second place over fences, as well as a second place in the under saddle, already under their belts, Golden and Brixton had more than enough points to clinch the championship.
“Yesterday, in the first round, we scored a 90 and ended up winning the class,” said Golden, who has had the ride on Brixton for the past two years. “In the handy, we got an 88 and got second. We hacked this morning and were second. Coming into this class, I was leading; it was a lot of pressure, but Brixton knows how to take the pressure. We were having a beautiful round until the last line. I don’t know what he saw. He’s never spooked ever before, like never, and he jumped off of two legs. It happens, but we had enough points coming in that it ended up working out. He’s so reliable so we were like, ‘What happened?’ He just had a bad day, and that’s okay.”
Golden, 14, who resides in Wyomissing, PA, not far from the PA Farm Show Complex, has been competing at the PNHS since she was 8 years old.
“I’ve had a lot of experience in this ring so now I’m used to it,” said Golden, who had previous success in the Harrisburg Coliseum with ponies Dressed to Go and Believe in Blue. “Tt’s a small ring, so you have to watch your track. I’m glad I’ve had the experience. It’s also so close to home so we can come later and get settled. The competition aspect of it is so fun. I love showing; I’m really competitive, but it’s so fun. I look forward to showing here and seeing my friends who are far away, and we all get to hang out.”
While Golden’s mother, Olivia Golden, is a trainer and Vivian Golden rides with her at home, she also juggles a busy school and travel schedule to train with Amanda Lyerly in Ohio, Scott Stewart in New Jersey and, most recently as she moves up the equitation ranks, Heritage Farm in New York.
“[Brixton] lives with Scott [Stewart],” explained Vivian Golden. “It gets really complicated this year because I’m in high school, so I can’t miss as much school. We split up where we go, but I try to get there before a big show so I can get ready. Then, during [the Winter Equestrian Festival] it’s a two-minute bike ride away, so it’s not a big deal there. My mom takes me everywhere. She’s the best!”
For the championship, Vivian Golden was presented with the For the Laughter Perpetual Trophy, donated by Dr. Betsee Parker. The reserve championship in the Large Pony Hunters went to JJ Torano and Sports Illustrated, owned by Redfield Farm.
Also claiming several significant Pony Hunter victories on Saturday was Emi Richard. The 13-year-old from Middlefield, CT, rode Tresoro, owned by Gray Neville to the win in the $10,000 Pony Hunter Winners Stake, sponsored by Cheryl Olsten.
For the victory, Richard was awarded the Little Brook Farms Perpetual Trophy, donated by Mr. & Mrs. Gary Duffy, as well as an Essex Classics gift certificate. All of the top 10 finishers in the class also received copies of Olsten’s book “Big Wishes for Little Feat.”
Richard wrapped up a highly successful weekend by also receiving the Best Child Rider on a Pony Award, sponsored by Bonnie Way Equestrian LLC, as well as the EMO Agency Pony Hunter High Five Award. The EMO Agency award recognizes the highest-scoring Pony Hunter, a distinction that Richard accomplished with a score of 92 aboard Prestige.
Two distinguished sportsmanship awards were also presented on Saturday afternoon, with the Hollow Brook Wealth Management Junior Sportsmanship Award going to Lillian Geitner.
The Hollow Brook Sportsmanship Award recognizes a junior rider, nominated by his or her trainer and peers, who best personifies the highest standards of integrity, sportsmanship, honor, kindness and generosity during the 2023 PNHS.
“It means alot [to win the award] because I had a lot of fun here, but I didn’t place the best,” said Geitner, who competed Disco Superfly in the Large Junior Hunters 15 & Under. “So, I feel special that I got something; it means a lot to be recognized.”
The Pony Rider Sportsmanship Award, sponsored by Judith Patton, went to Colin Shippam. For full results of all Pony Hunter competition, visit pnhs.showmanagementsystem.com.