Temecula, Calif. – May 28, 2022 – Bows and braids made their way into the Hunter 3 ring Saturday morning for the first day of division competition in the Small Pony 2’3” Hunter at Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National II. Six small ponies took turns taking center stage, with Kathryn Padilla and Heavenly Patch of Blue earning the spotlight at the end of the competition.
One of Nilforushan Equisport Events favorite course designers, Jared Erho (USA), set a fitting 8-obstacle course for the young riders and their respective mounts. With all six combinations turning in solid rounds, the judges were tasked with a difficult decision as to who to pin the highest.
Trotting into the arena, Padilla and Highland Farm LLC’s 16-year-old Welsh Pony mare, Heavenly Patch of Blue, also known as “Anna”, had a game plan in mind. The loving partnership of five months between the girls was apparent when they caught the attention of the judges’ eye during the first round. The judges were impressed by Anna’s conformation and demeanor during the round, navigating a seemingly effortless round over Erho’s track, making them strong contenders to place at the top of the class. Padilla was beaming with excitement as she exited the ring hearing her score of 86 in the first over fences class.
This isn’t Padilla and Heavenly Patch of Blue’s first time making waves heading into Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National series coming off of a winning streak. The duo took blue ribbons in the $15,000 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby at Blenheim Ranch & Coast Horse Show, and won both the Small 2’3” Pony Hunter division and Schooling 2’3-2’9” Hunter at Temecula Valley Premier.
Taylor Morrow and her partner of six months, Picante, a 22-year-old Welsh Pony gelding owned by Monarch Farm LLC, seemed cool and collected as they entered the ring. The duo has had numerous top placings during Temecula Valley Premier in the Small 2’3” Pony Hunters and Schooling 2’3”-2’9” Pony Hunters. As the sixth pair to enter the ring, Morrow executed a nearly flawless round, performing turns, transitions and changes in pace with ease. After laying down technically strong rounds, the judges awarded the pair for their consistency, form and pace, helping their chances at the win leading into the second day.
Hunter competition will come to a close Sunday, May 29th, with the $1,000 A/O Hunter 3’6” Classic, sponsored by Riviera Equisports, in the Grand Hunter Arena and the $500 Adult Hunter 3’ Classic, sponsored by Pony Suds, in Hunter 1. The division competition for ponies also closes tomorrow with the Children’s 2’ Pony Hunters kicking off in Hunter 3 at 9:40am. Hunter competition will return Wednesday, June 1st, for the kick off of Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National III.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Kathryn Padilla – Small Pony 2’3” Hunter leader
On Heavenly Patch of Blue:
“When you give her treats, she likes to smile. She always raises her top lip to ask for more.”
On riding at home:
“While at home, we work a lot on flatting and jumping. I also work on keeping my eye on her. For fun we like to walk and canter around the barn bareback.”
Favorite part of Heavenly Patch of Blue:
“My favorite thing about Anna [Heavenly Patch of Blue] is her canter. It is super smooth and easy to ride. I also love it when she lifts her lip up to smile when I give her treats.”