Chandler Wilks Smiles Her Way Around The Alltech Arena As She Takes Home Top Honors in the 2022 Marshall and Sterling USEF Pony Medal Final
The final day of the 2022 USEF Pony Finals, presented by Honor Hill Farms, showcased the highly anticipated Marshall and Sterling USEF Pony Medal. The nation’s top young pony athletes took to the famed Alltech Arena as they tried their hand at the 10-obstacle course, vying for the chance to make it to the second round, and take home the championship honors. Upon completion of two rounds and a flat work-off, it was Chandler Wilks and Orchard Hills Bougie who led the victory lap, followed by JJ Torano and Paris Charm in second, and Abby Morris and Silver Wishes in third.
During round one, course designer, Jasen Shelley (USA) tested riders’ abilities on course by asking them to demonstrate a halt after fence four, canter a long 5-stride line for fences five and six, and a trot jump at fence eight. Many riders found difficulty in the halt as their ponies did not anticipate stopping after the diagonal vertical heading towards the out-gate. After 214 pony and rider combinations made their way through round one, judges Keri Kampsen of Wellington, FL, and Timmy Kees of Newtown, CT welcomed back the top 25 riders with the highest scores in reverse order to compete over a second round.
Equally as inviting as the first, Shelley’s second round course included bending lines, a two stride, and many single jumps that allowed riders to show their skill and style through opportunities to take handy, inside turns. Shelley also included another test by asking riders to hand gallop fence number four, an oxer at the far end of the ring going away from the in-gate. Many riders, including Torano and Morris, cantered directly to fence one and took handy inside turns. Wilks, on the other hand, took a more conservative approach by entering the ring at a trot and completing a courtesy circle before picking up the canter and heading to the first jump. Wilks took her time showcasing her traditional riding style and Orchard Hills Bougie’s ride-ability, by taking a wider turn after fence three, giving herself more time to develop a strong hand gallop to the fourth fence.