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AHHS Youth Medallion National Championship- As Strong As Ever

by Jennifer Styskal

For many years the American Hackney Horse Society Youth Medallion program has been one of the strongest programs in the country for junior exhibitors. Not only does the program promote the breed and encourage the youth to take part, but it also provides scholarships and tons of fun. A luncheon was hosted by the show on Friday to award the 2006 High Point Awards and recognize the new national champions. This list of champions follows in a separate story.

The AHHS Youth Medallion Road Pony Under Saddle Championship on Thursday evening kicked off the first of six AHHS Medallion classes with nine gutsy junior exhibitors riding their fiery road pones into the ring. The crowd sounded its enthusiasm for these hard working kids and their ponies as they turned on the sped.

As is tradition, when the ponies were lined up the ribbons were awarded in a nail-biting reverse order. First to be called out of the talented group were Aliyah Asch and Silent Partner for owner and trainer Joy Lazarus. Beth Oseroff and She’s A Ticket followed for Patty Milligan, with License To Kill and Michelle Herron picking up the seventh place ribbon.

Blockbuster DV carried Ashlinn Thommes to the sixth place for AW Hammerlund. The tension in the arena thickened as the top five milled about at the far end of the ring. Bryce Smithwick and Wait & See’s Bright Flame put in a good go to take home the pink silks. Little Cindy Lou Who and Alex Cramer teamed up for the fourth place ribbon for owner Madison Pope.

Three were left and all three junior exhibitors hung onto their ponies in nervousness. Makayla Wessel about jumped off Heartland Hot Shot when her number was announced as the third place winner for her parents, Mike and Jacqueline Wessel. Alicia Harris on Knight’s Lady Of Lace and Alyssa Lopez with Heartland Little Gem remained in the ring. They both exchanged glances as they wondered who would be the last one standing.

Announcer Peter Fenton called Harris up to receive the reserve championship ribbon. Lopez gave her mother and trainer, Dena Lopez a big hug as they walked over to the winner’s circle. Heartland Little Gem and Lopez claimed the reserve championship in the class last year and came back with determination and hard work to win the $500 Brent Bacon Memorial Scholarship and trophy donated by the Bacon family.

Friday morning brought the pleasure ponies under saddle into the ring for the AHHS Medallion national championship. Six mannerly ponies and their riders found a spot on the rail and rode their hardest. The entries lined up after making their last pass and the first to leave was Alicia Harris on Tijuana Playboy. Aliyah Asch picked up the fifth place ribbon with Great Day. Last year’s winner, Forecaster’s Penney, and Jessica Randall followed for owners Jackie and Chuck Browning. Makayla Wessel made it look like so much fun as she rode Outa The Blue up for the third place.

Two pairs were left and both were proud regardless of the final placing. Jim and Mary Yonker’s pony, Thyen’s Gem, and Nicole LaRoussa wore the reserve tricolor from the ring with trainer Mayo Moctezuma heading them. The last one in the ring was Morgan Brison on her parents and trainers, Bob and Tonya Brison’s, pony, BRS Mark’s Delight. Brison proudly carried out the $500 Brent Bacon Memorial Scholarship and trophy in a unanimous decision by the judges.

Only three entered the ring for the roadster pony 13 years and under national championship. While the class was small, quality was not lacking. Makayla Wessel returned to the ring in the bike with her parents’ Heartland Hot Shot. This team raced away with the yellow streamers. With a successful season behind them, Albert Kaponey and Kevin Berman continued their top ribbon winning streak by capturing the reserve championship for Perwien and Berman.

That left only one. Mike Roberts jogged into the winner’s circle to greet his team of Boxford Courageous Spirit and Max Kaplan. This pair had earned a reserve championship at Louisville earlier this year and put it all together to come back and wear the title of national champions for Chris Kaplan Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.

The AHHS Youth Medallion Hackney/Harness Pony National Championship opened Friday night with Michelle Herron driving away with the tricolor for the third year in a row. Herron piloted her partner Dun-Haven Radiant Spirit for owner Carol Hall with her father, Mike Herron, instructing.

A group of seven marching pleasure driving ponies kept the excitement going on Friday night. It seemed like a class of who’s who as all entries have had a successful season. But not all could wear the blue and when the judges’ cards were handed in, Makayla Wessel and Outa The Blue were the first to exit the ring with the seventh place ribbon. Trekking all the way from Massachusetts, Lexie Quarantiello and Model Of Excellence took home the green ribbon for Dawn Deltorchio. Aliyah Asch and Callisto followed next with Beau Rash and Heartland Equalizer picking up fourth.

Winner of the junior exhibitor pleasure driving pony qualifier, Motown and Will Mayo closed out a blue-ribbon year with a competitive third place award. Of the two entries left, Ali Judah made a great drive for the reserve championship with current World’s Champion of Champions Wonmore’s Diamond Legacy. Debbie Foley trains this pony for owner Beth Jones. Making the change from road pony to pleasure pony earlier in the year, Heartland Special Special proved it to be a good one as she claimed the national title with Kelsey Herbert in the buggy. Maureen Lydon and Rich Campbell train with winning combination for owner Janet Sterba.

The final AHHS Medallion class was the road pony 14-17 national championship. Eight leg-pumping ponies raced into the ring and battled it out for a spot on the rail. Every pony in the class has had wins and reserves from this year and the competition was deep with quality. Knight’s Lady Of Lace and Alicia Harris returned from their under saddle show to carry out the eighth place ribbon in a class of good ponies. Bryce Smithwick and Wait & See’s Bright Flame picked up the seventh place with Jessica Randall and Heartland Sweet Lady following. Tyler Volz put in a strong drive to come away with the fifth place award behind PO’s Time To Shine. Beth Oseroff and She’s A Ticket had a comeback drive after their under saddle class and sped off with the white streamers.

Three remained and the crowd waited with anticipation as the last numbers were announced. Michelle Herron had the winning pony in the hackney/harness class, and she had another good one in Dream Field’s Touché as they drove away with the third place for Carol Hall. Heartland Painted Creation and Jeb Boyd and Heartland Sundust with Rachel Machamer are two pairs with a long list of wins and each deserving of the national championship.

Following in his mother’s winning footsteps, Jeb Boyd guided Luanne Kilday’s pony to the reserve championship and a great round of applause from the audience. Debbie Foley greeted her team at the gate. Lynda Freseth ran in to give Machamer a hug in the winner’s circle as the tricolor was hung on Sundust’s breast collar. Priscilla Gise is the proud owner of this leg-waving pony.

Kids and ponies always make quite a match up and with the increase in entries at the American Royal, hopefully the AHHS Youth Medallion program will continue to grow and promote the breed among all, both young and old.

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