Tony the Pony is a very special pony but he’s never won the Pony of the Year show until this year, and no-one was more delighted than his rider, Ally Carson.
There were three ponies through to the jump-off with two clear rounds. Ally was first to go and did a great time, but had the last fence down. This fence had caused a lot of problems in the previous round, destroying many hopes. The other two girls had all to ride for, but Briar Burnett-Grant couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity with Kabo Silver, taking two down, and Olivia Dalton on Simply Samantha HH followed suit with another two.
The eruption of emotions in the collecting ring, when the Carsons realised Ally had won, was great to see. They are a tight unit, and there were tears, hugs and laughter, often simultaneously. Ally is coached by Duncan McFarlane and his wife Helen McNaught, and they were also involved in the hug-a-thon.
For Ally, this was “a dream come true, especially after winning the Nationals.” She thinks the nationals were a good preparation, despite the distance to travel. “It was a good course down south.”
Vance and Kris Carson profess to no background in equestrian, but we’re pretty sure they are hooked on the sport now. Vance summed it up well: “This sport grabs you and then it explodes.” We’re predicting more horse activities in their future!
Tony the Pony was “discovered” and produced by Sally Clark and Maurice Beatson. Sally was on hand to see “her” pony win the class and was delighted. While Sally and Maurice normally produce horses rather than ponies, Sally recounts how they got involved with Tony.
“A friend from Taupo rang to say that there was a pony that needed to find a home as his owner was leaving the country in a week. We said yes because he needed a home, so we parted with $200 and got a pot-bellied, ewe-necked, crooked-face two-year-old. He had been bred in Australia for polo and we think he is mostly thoroughbred. Maurie broke him in as a five-year-old and we had kids ride him. Emily Fraser’s mum said she would be keen to get him for Emily. We thought she might be a bit small, and wanted to have input in what happened to Tony so we said yes to selling her a half share. Emily went on to win a lot with the pony, including the series twice. The Frasers bought us out in the end, but we have been continually there with the pony the whole way; it’s never stopped. So it was great to be here to see him win that elusive Pony of the Year.”