Pony power!! This month on YourDressage, we are celebrating ponies of all breeds. Dressage riders who choose ponies as their mounts are eligible for many Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards as there are several pony organizations on our Participating Organization list. Here, a Region 3 rider shares about her pony Cinder, a unique representation of two critically endangered breeds.
By Madeline Truman
Mr. Cinder is a 2011, 14.1, black, Newfoundland Pony x Canadian Horse cross gelding. He was bred by Kimberly Stoppa in Cobden, Ontario. Mr. Cinder’s sire is registered Newfoundland Pony #577 Deerfield’s John Peter Payne and his dam is registered Canadian Horse, Deerfield Javron Sophie.
Scrolling through Facebook one day in the summer of 2019, I did not expect to find my perfect pony partner so quickly. Yet, the Force (or just really good algorithms) was with me that day. There in an ad was Mr. Cinder, and the more I read, the more boxes he checked off. Also I must admit that I could not stop watching his video; he was just too precious! I eagerly contacted his trainer/seller, Meredith Risk, and made arrangements. The next week, my mother and I found ourselves just outside Toronto, Canada to try out Mr. Cinder.
Cheesy as it sounds, immediately upon meeting Mr. Cinder, I was in love. I couldn’t believe anyone would pass up such an adorable pony, but in a way I was glad no one had scooped him up. As Cinder’s ad described, he was absolutely charming and my mother mentioned I had a smile on my face the whole time I rode him. Lucky for us, the vets were able to come out the next day and Cinder passed his vet check.
The next week, Cinder arrived home in Florida, and we had some excitement with Hurricane Dorian, which thankfully we did not experience a direct hit. After some more time to acclimate, I started riding Cinder in lessons and clinics. He wasn’t fazed by much, including one clinic in a public park where people were putting up Christmas lights with a crane that beeped every time it moved. Everything was going fantastic until I took Cinder to an eventing schooling show in October. Cinder did not appreciate the overwhelming environment, and we scratched our test. After that, we took some time at home and at my trainer’s to better build our relationship.
Our next show was at a recognized dressage show in February 2020, where we rode Intro B and received a score of 73.43%. We were able to successfully compete at two more shows before COVID-19. In September, we debuted our Training 3 test before heading to the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 3 Dressage Championships in October. The facility where Regionals were held happened to be the same venue of the inhospitable eventing schooling show. Working with my trainer, Debbie Hill, Regionals went a lot more smoothly with Cinder and me riding Training 3 each day and receiving a weekend best score of 71.43%.
Mr. Cinder and I placed first in Introductory Level and sixth in Training Level in the National Dressage Pony Cup 2020 rankings. In January 2021, at our Regional Pony Club Dressage Rally, we received a medal for Reserve High Point out of eleven Training Level freestyles. At every one of our last six shows together (all recognized) we have received either NDPC High Point Champion or NDPC Reserve High Point Champion.
As for what it’s like having a pony partner…. You wouldn’t think a short, stout pony would be so smooth to ride but Cinder is. Once he gets moving, he can be a powerhouse and he makes you work but in a good way. He’s honestly a ton of fun to ride! I’ve learned more in the year and a half that I’ve had Cinder than I have in the twenty-one years of riding before him. I chalk it up to his great personality and that he is forgiving of rider errors which lets me focus on bettering myself.
The big Warmbloods in the warm-up in Wellington don’t faze Cinder and he’s often the most level-headed equine in the warm-up when another horse has a “moment!” As much as people feel like they need to ride a tall fancy horse to be competitive, I feel like a pony, especially Cinder, is the right fit for me.
Cinder is super sweet, very smart, and is always aiming to please. He will tell you what he’s thinking but is never naughty. Cinder is a sensitive soul, not in an overly delicate way, but more like it’s hard to be mad or upset when you’re around him. He just has this inquisitive look in his eye, like he wants to know what you’re feeling and then he feeds off that. As you can imagine, Cinder relishes food, especially treats, and being told what a good pony he is. Honestly, I could go on for days about everything I love about Cinder. Truly, he is my best friend.
I enjoy having such a unique equine partner in the Wellington dressage world. At shows, I often get asked about Cinder’s breeding and I like discussing his background because both Newfoundland Ponies and Canadian Horses are critically endangered breeds. Cinder being a cross just means he gets to show everyone the best of both breeds.
Through time, patience, and kindness, we have built a relationship of trust and grown a lot together. Currently we love showing our Training Level freestyle and are now working on First Level in hopes of making our debut soon. I am excited to see what our future holds while demonstrating the true essence of pony power!