Get the Pony

At the US Dressage Finals. Photo by Susan J Stickle

The strong & hardy New Forest Pony! We are celebrating them as our December Breed of the Month on #YourDressage!

Dressage riders who choose New Forest Ponies as their mounts are eligible for special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards program, as the New Forest Pony Society of North America is a participating organization.  

Here, a rider in Region 9 shares about finding the perfect pony-sized partner, Duke of the Dawn!

By Jennifer Van de Loo

Duke of the Dawn is truly a once in a lifetime pony. He has it all; the best character, work ethic, and a truly unmatched talent to go all the way. I found him on after a long search for a pony.

My initial search was limited to German Riding Ponies, but I couldn’t find something that I really liked. So after a while I limited the search not to breed but to size, and there he was! I didn’t even know that the New Forest Pony breed excelled in dressage!

Duke comes from a loving family in the Netherlands; the daughter had sadly outgrown him and they were hoping to find him a home that would continue to bring him up the levels. Said and done! I bought him sight unseen. He was my first pony after showing big warmbloods since 2011. A pony just seemed like a good idea, as I am pony-sized myself!

At the US Dressage Finals. Photo by Susan J Stickle

What a ride it has been since!! Duke is the definition of PONY POWER! Our first year out together, we won the Second Level Adult Amateur class at the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 3 Championships, and were third at Third Level. We made the trip to the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, and earned Reserve Champion at Second Level!!

The following year we were Reserve Champion at Fourth Level in St Louis. The year after, we made the trip to the Regional Championships in Atlanta again, and had another good outing: third at Fourth Level and third at Prix St. Georges (all top 3 horses within 0.5%).

This year we earned qualifying scores at Prix St. Georges and Intermediate 1 but sadly, work forced me to skip Regionals.

What’s next for us? Duke shows great talent for piaffe and passage, and we are already able to do 7 one tempis! No rush though. We are enjoying the ride. Duke is currently 12 and lives at home with me, with all my other ponies that I have collected since 😊.

Mississippi isn’t exactly the center of the dressage world, but we do have a lot of support and help. My trainer Alex du Celliee Muller is working out of Little Rock, Arkansas. I haul there once a month, and she comes this way once in a while.

We also have a beautiful show facility in Hernando, MS that is truly top notch. Mid South Dressage Academy not only hosts four USDF-recognized shows a year, but also brings in some good clinicians.

In January and February, Alex and many of her clients (including Duky and me) will make the trip to Ocala, Florida. We will stay with our dear friend and trainer, Ally Rogers.

When I turn Duke out to pasture, I ride him bareback with a halter and a rope. That temperament is truly unmatched! 

All I can say is life is short, get the pony! PONY POWER!!

In a clinic with Lauren Sprieser

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