Lexington, Ky – Aug. 13, 2022 – After taking home Grand Championship honors for the Overall Regular Pony Hunter Divisions in the Rolex Stadium, Aundrea Hillyard traded her shad-belly for a sparkling fly bonnet in the Claiborne arena to take the gold medal in the Individual Final of the 2022 USEF Pony Jumper National Championship.
After multiple days of competition Hillyard and the 13-year-old Belgian Sport Horse gelding had yet to knock a rail, keeping them at the top of the class going into today’s competition. The talented pair navigated Jasen Shelley’s (USA) course crossing the timers with the quickest 4-fault round of the day to secure the gold medal. “To the last jump I kind of pulled [on the reins] too much,” explains Hillyard while chuckling. “It would’ve been cool if I didn’t do that because then I would have had no faults!”
Following the first round, the Claiborne arena welcomed back three riders over a shortened track to ride for silver and bronze medals – Isabella Uhrig and Juan Bay, Reagan Voxman and Air Force One, and member of yesterday’s gold medal team, Savannah Smith and Wishlea Star Dasher. All were clear and quick, but ultimately it was Uhrig and Juan Bay to blaze the trail to the silver medal, Voxman and Air Force One settling for Bronze, and Smith aboard Wishlea Star Dasher just missing the podium spot and earning the white ribbon for fourth.
Equally striking as he is fast, “Milano”, as he’s affectionately called around the barn, was originally bound for the hunter ring. “He moves really well so we were going to try to make him a pony hunter, but he likes this way more” explains Hillyard. “He was actually an eventer in Europe, but we went to take him to do the Green Pony [division] at a show, and they had pony jumpers, so we were like ‘oh let’s try that’ and that’s how that happened!”
As for Hillyard’s pony jumper future, she hopes to compete again in the Pony Jumper National Championships at the 2023 USEF Pony Finals.
The 2022 USEF Pony Finals, presented by Honor Hill Farm, will conclude Sunday at 7 am in the Rolex Ring with the highly anticipated USEF Pony Medal Final.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE:
On her round today:
“It was less pressure than yesterday, I was good if I had 4 faults and a bunch of time faults so I just wanted to go in there and have a good round and finish off strong. Most of the course was pretty good. To the last jump I kind of pulled too much. It would’ve been cool if I didn’t do that because then I would have had no faults, but it was fun! [The course] was definitely more technical than the last two days. I think my pony completed it pretty nice. He really did a good job.”
On her and Magic Dragon’s Partnership:
“I have been with him for a little over a year. We started out on him in the .80m’s. He was coming back from an injury, so we started slow. In Wellington [Florida] we did the pony jumpers and that was so much fun. We did that all circuit. We’ve definitely gained a lot of trust together and have worked really hard together. I love him!”
On Magic Dragon’s personality:
“He’s so sweet in the barn, you can get on him bareback, take him for trail rides, he loves to go out for grass. He has got the sweetest personality. If you put your hand out he’s always licking. He is the sweetest pony in the barn. He goes out with the mini [ponies] . It’s so cute. He’s always happy, he’s game for anything.”
Pony / Rider / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults
Magic Dragon / Aundrea Hillyard / Hidden Ridge / 4 / –
Juan Bay / Isabella Uhrig / Isabella Uhrig / 8 / 0
Air Force One / Reagan Voxman / Reagan Voxman / 8 / 0
Wishlea Star Dasher / Savannah Smith / Tamara Doloff / 8 / 0