Devon, PA – May 28 – The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair added several more champions to its historic list of victors on Saturday. With Junior Weekend winding down, many young and hopeful riders awaited to hear final results announced in the Gold Ring. However, only one was crowned the Devon Grand Hunter Pony Champion and that was Augusta Iwasaki.
The 12-year-old rider and her 13-year-old mount, Kingston, had a triumphant weekend in the Large Pony Hunter division. Over the course of two days, Iwasaki secured three first place ribbons to lock in the Large Pony Hunter Championship and the overall Grand Hunter Pony Championship.
“He’s perfect,” Iwasaki said about Kingston. “He’s amazing. He takes some leg, but not a lot of it. Other than that, he’s perfect. It felt really good to win the Grand Champion at Devon. It’s my favorite horse show.”
Liz Reilly, who assumes the role of mother and trainer, shed some light on her daughter’s training. “They work on being straight,” she commented. “Other than that, she takes lessons with the big kids. They could jump the horse jumps, take the horse strides. We don’t do pony lessons. Kingston is a ‘freak-a-zoid’ of a pony. He’s very special.”
Also celebrating victories in the Gold Ring was the Gochman family. Sisters, Mimi and Sophie Gochman, secured multiple tricolor ribbons on Saturday.
The reserve championship title in the Large Pony Hunter division went to the older of the two siblings, Mimi Gochman, who also earned the reserve honors in the Medium Pony Hunter division.
“Devon is one of the best shows,” Mimi expressed. “It’s one of my favorites, for sure. I love Devon. Being reserve at Devon is a big honor, because it’s hard to qualify, hard to do well and even harder to get reserve.”
Sharing her sentiments about Devon was Mimi’s younger sister, Sophie, who rode away with the champion and reserve champion recognition in the Small Pony Hunter division.
“This is one of my favorite shows,” Sophie said. “It’s such a privilege to be here and to qualify. I love the fair. I love showing here. It’s such a great atmosphere. I love the crowds.”
Sophie posed with Bit of Love for the championship presentation photo, before running out of the ring and swapping ponies for the reserve championship photo op with Love Me Tender. Between the two ponies, Sophie rode away with five blue ribbons.
“Bit of Love is a little bit more round,” Sophie said, while comparing her ponies. “His stride is a bit bouncier, while Love Me Tender is really long and low. For Love Me Tender you have to be really soft on her neck, or she gets a little sassy. For Bit of Love, you just have to move very slow and smooth.”
The New York natives train with Scott Stewart and Ken Berkley at River’s Edge Farm, and have been working out of the New Jersey base for about three years.
“I’ve known Scott for a really long time,” Sophie shared. “He knows my quirks. He tells me I have to stay still and calm down. He’s so great and I’ve learned so much since I’ve been with him.”
Grace Debney was crowned champion of the Medium Pony Hunter division. She pulled double duties in the medium pony classes, riding Sportster and Denmark.
“Sportster is kind of slow, but he has an amazing personality,” Debney said about her top-performing pony. “He’s kind of goofy and he’s so sweet. He just wants to do his job right. We’ve been together for a year.”
Proud trainer, Stacey Schaefer, shared her thoughts on the two ponies and how they’ve transformed Debney’s riding. “It was nice that Denmark got to win a class here, because he’s been a rock, and he’s shown her the way. Without him she could never have learned to ride Sporty. Denmark has won the USEF Pony Medal finals a few times – he’s been great. He hasn’t been here for a long time because he hasn’t had that hard of a job. But it was easy for her to get him qualified without going to many horse shows. He’s definitely special.”
The Junior Weekend will come to a close on Sunday with the highlight event being Pony Jumper Championship, and the Adult Jumpers will close out the evening session at the Dixon Oval.