Violet Rheingold and Touch The Sun Victorious in USHJA Pony Hunter Derby Championship – East
Pony Hunters took over the Grand Prix Stadium at HITS Chicago on Saturday morning during EquiFest I as they showcased their skills in the 2022 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby Championship – East. With a smooth and flowing classic round followed by a brilliant handy round, Violet Rheingold etched her name in history with Touch The Sun after earning a score of 165.75 to take home the championship title. Following behind her with a total score of 161.25 was Liana Epstein with Hopscotch for the reserve championship honors.
“I’m really surprised to have won the [USHJA] Pony Hunter Derby Championships and really happy with Touch The Sun’s performance,” smiled Rheingold after leading the victory gallop. “I’ve had him for a year, and he can start a bit nervous, but he’s a lot easier when he starts to trust you. We’ve really developed a great partnership over the last year. I would definitely do the championship again.”
After working to qualify throughout the year, ponies were welcomed to expansive Grand Prix Stadium to compete over Tom Urban’s first-round course, which included two bending lines and an in-and-out. The field was then narrowed down to the top 12 for the handy round, where riders could earn bonus points with smooth inside turns, while still allowing their ponies to demonstrate a beautiful jump over each fence.
Rheingold and Touch the Sun took the lead after a smooth and even classic round to begin the day. Returning at the top of the leaderboard, she stayed conservative during the first part of the handy round, but began to step it up as she continued, once again showcasing her large pony’s beautiful jump to impress the judges. She was rewarded with a score of 165.75 to earn the championship title as well as the High Score Award in the Large Pony Section.
“I wanted to play it safe for the first portion of the handy, but once we got to the end I wanted to be more handy,” explained Rheingold. “I like the handy the most with Touch The Sun. I showed here last year and it was really fun. It’s one of my favorite shows.”