May 23, 2016

It's Almost Devon Time

By Maggie Junkin

May has always been one of my favorite times of year.  Spring in Philadelphia.  The weather gets warm, the spring flowers bloom, and the Mainline prepares for my favorite horse show of all: THE DEVON HORSE SHOW!

Growing up in the suburbs of Philly as a young equestrian I have been fortunate to visit the show almost each year.  I competed in the Lead Line division as a 4 year-old and have been lucky enough to compete in the pony divisions.  I hope, in the future, to compete in the junior hunters there as well.

What makes Devon so Special?  There are so many reasons. Where do I start?

1. The Devon Blue
This is one of the few horse shows I can think of that has a color theme.  “Devon Blue” is seen throughout the show grounds, from the stands, to the stabling areas, to the fair grounds.  It’s Devon Blue everywhere!

2010--decked out in my Devon Blue. 

2. It’s Where Champions Meet
There is always someone to admire or be inspired by.  Sit in the stands and soak in the talent.  Learn from the best and appreciate the dedication it took to get there.

3. Devon Lead Line
Don’t miss the Devon Lead Line class that takes place on Saturday afternoon of Junior Weekend in the Dixon Oval.  This is cuteness overload.  Young lead liners with their adorable ponies and finely attired handlers strut their stuff for a coveted Devon ribbon.  But don’t worry because everyone goes home with a prize.  A Devon baby blue ribbon and a lollipop to thrill these tiny equestrians. 

4. Pony Hunt Teams
Pony Hunt Teams are so much fun, not only as a spectator, but also as a competitor.  Pony Hunt Teams are made up of three pony riders in the same division. Teams choose a theme and dress in costumes while jumping a course to music.

Maggie Junkin as Olaf in the Fabulously Frozen Pony Hunt Team.

5. Shopping
From clothing to art, needlepoint belts to jewelry, and equestrian gear to engraving, there is plenty to browse.  I love the Devon Booth, where you will find all things Devon.  This is a great place to pick up a keepsake or that new Devon sweatshirt you wanted.

6. Good Eats
They do not cook your usual horse show food here.  Devon provides guests with a variety of options.  From healthy choices, to pizza, burgers, their famous tea sandwiches, and oh, can’t forget those Devon Fries!  For the adventurous, the carnival side offers batter-dipped treats from funnel cake to fried Oreos, cotton candy, and fresh-squeezed lemonade.

7. The Carnival
Being a horse show exhibitor occasionally leaves you with some downtime.  Devon offers some carnival entertainment.  A Ferris wheel provides the backdrop to the Dixon Oval and offers a sky view of the horse show.

8. The Grandstand
I think it is a dream for many young equestrians to compete in a beautiful ring surrounded by the Devon Blue Grandstands. 

9. The Candy booth
Where you will find sweat treats... from Devon fudge to a variety of candy choices, and Lemon sticks.  The candy booth is a favorite for all Devon guests.

10. Grand Prix Under the Lights
The highlight of Devon Week.  Gather together with your equestrian friends to watch top athletes compete in the Devon Grand Prix.

That memorable night in 2013 when McLain Ward shared his blue ribbon with me. 

Maggie Junkin is a 13 year-old who competes in the Large Pony Hunter Division with Shaded and the Children’s Hunter Horse Division with Tommy Bahama.  She is committed to animal rescue.  Her favorite rescue to support is Danny and Ron’s Rescue.

Maggie trains with John Mastriano of Tustin Farm in NJ.  She lives with her family, five dogs, and three cats in Jenkintown, Penn. Maggie is thrilled to have qualified Shaded in the Large Pony Division for The Devon Horse Show 2016.

May 11, 2016

You Know You Showed Ponies Back in the Day if...

By Kim Ablon Whitney

1. You wore a nameplate bracelet with your pony’s show name.

2. The Pony Finals changed location every year.

3. Every show had a pony model class, including the one-days, and sometimes even in an under saddle.

4. Ponies did not come from Europe.  They came from Virginia.

5. When a top pony came up for sale there was a huge ad in the Chronicle of the Horse with Sadly Outgrown in bold print.

6. You didn’t wear high boots or your hair up in your helmet till you were 13 and on a large pony.

7. You went straight from the large ponies to showing in the 3'6".

8. You read A Very Young Rider and The Pony Book countless times.

9. You were present for one of the very first “horseless horse shows.”

10. Fairfield was THE pony barn and Emerson Burr was THE pony trainer.

11. There was no such thing as the children’s ponies.

12. Your pony likely had the prefix Farnley, Woodland’s, or Glenmore.

13. You had to make your own accessories for your Breyer horses.

Kim Ablon Whitney showed in the ponies back in the day. One of her proudest moments was when Emerson Burr told her she rode well.

May 9, 2016

Don't Ever Trash Talk My School Horse

By Elizabeth Tarter

Dear Person Who Disparaged My School Horse,

I suggest that you spend several years of your life saving money by singing in dive bars, giving beginner lessons, leading trail rides (don't forget to get bucked off onto the hood of a yellow cab while crossing Central Park West. That is an experience not to be missed!), waiting tables, and eating SpaghettiOs out of the can to buy a fleet of horses to begin a program with. 

Over the following twelve years, you should spend several hundred thousand more dollars adding to that fleet--choosing each creature with as much care as you would choose a pony for your own daughter. 

You will spend those years patiently schooling them to do the work with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of happy kids.  You will worry over them when they are sick and sleep in the barn to watch the IV drip.  You will cry over them when they pass away.  

You will spend money on them that you could have used to send your kids to private school, or to buy a bigger house so that your girls don't have to share a room and we don't all queue up for the bathroom in the morning like a third-rate boarding house but you know that these horses are in your care and deserve the best that you can give them. 

You will ignore the pain in your own mouth and chug an Advil because you can't afford a dentist for yourself (and you would never have the time to go, anyway) but you will find the best equine dentist out there (because he is well worth it) and make sure that every last one of the school horses (even the oldest school pony... especially the oldest school pony) see him twice a year. 

You will watch them with pride when they patiently tip an unbalanced rider back into the tack and you will get after them when they lose that patience and misbehave (even though you secretly don't blame them one bit).

You will watch them endure poor riding and getting whacked in the teeth over and over again, and you will have to remind yourself for the billionth time that this is their job and the reason why you work so hard to care for them. 

You will stand in rainy in-gates next to them, with water dripping down your pants, and ask them to please, bring the kid back to the gate safely at the end of the eight jumps, no matter how she leans or gives conflicting aids. 

You will drive them all over creation to birthday parties, horse shows, bat mitzvahs, clinics, and beyond and you will constantly marvel at how they trustingly follow you and know that you will bring them home safely. 

You will comfort your daughter while you hold her favorite pony for the vet to euthanize for the infirmities of old age and explain to her that you can't turn back the clock and that this is the way of things--while you wish to God that someone would comfort and explain it to you. 

You will listen to careless and bone-headed comments from morons like yourself, and you will try your best to let it roll off because you know your school horses are saints.

Elizabeth Tarter runs Twin Lakes Farm in Bronxville, NY and Riverdale Stables in the Bronx with her husband, Scott.