BD Young Pony Championships: bright future for young stars

  • Written By: Barbara Young
  • Published: Thu, 22 Jul 2021 08:43

The annual British Dressage Young Pony Championships took place at the recent Hartpury Festival of Dressage, Gloucestershire (07 - 11 July 2021). Designed for four, five and six-year old ponies not exceeding 149cm, this exciting championship proved the perfect showcase for pint-size young talent to shine.

In the four-year-old championship, Gemma Moss and her own 13.3hh black gelding Day Dream (by Dream On) - pictured above - impressed judges Maria Eilberg and Canada’s Cara Whitham, who teamed up to judge all three sections, winning on a score of 79.60%.

Bred by Dawn Watson, Gemma, who runs a competition yard producing young horses in Cheshire and trains with Calum Whitworth, has owned “Shrek” since a two-year-old and he is the first pony she has backed and produced herself.

“He was originally bred to be 17hh plus, but when I bought him he was very small, only about 13hh, so initially I was hoping he would grow,” says Gemma who backed him in two weeks with the help of a 13-year-old rider and Day Dream had only been under saddle for eight months before his trip to Hartpury.

“In spite of his size, he’s amazing to ride; he thinks and feels like a horse with a massive walk and an outstanding huge canter – he just keeps on giving and feels like a Ferrari.

“Shrek is a real yard favourite, super friendly, loves a fuss and is bold and brave and just lovely to have around.”

Gemma now plans to give Shrek a three-month holiday in the field with his friends before continuing to produce him with a plan to find him an ambitious young rider.

“He’s definitely a medal-winner so it would be madness to keep him for myself, but in the meantime we’ll continue to have fun together.”

Rider/trainer and BDCC level 3 coach Eilidh Grant made the 11-hour journey south from her base in Aberdeen to win the five-year-old championships with her own and mother Lorraine’s Charming Duke, a 14.2hh home-bred bay gelding by Caesar 171.

Duke (pictured above), a fine, elegant gelding who in spite of his diminutive size Eilidh describes as “feeling like riding a horse”, was the clear winner scoring 84.80%, gaining 9 for his outstanding canter and 8.8 for way of going and general impression.

“It was his first staying away show and he was a star,” said Eilidh, who trains with Carl Hester and Nicola Buchanan. “He’s got a super temperament, didn’t put a foot wrong and pulled it out of the bag. I haven’t produced a pony before and I’m not an overly brave rider, but he’s been easy and such fun I’d be very tempted to try it again!”

Elly Darling and Jeanette Matthews-Griffiths’ elegant 14.2hh chestnut mare Wadacre Fancy Pants (Fürst Romancier x Golden Dancer ) produced her best test to date showing off her super walk and floating trot to top the scoreboard with 79.00%.

Fancy Pants, who Elly describes as “a small horse who reminds me of a miniature Farouche”, also qualified for the gold section novice and elementary regionals.

“I’ve had the ride on her for the past year and I adore her,” said Elly, a BDCC Level 2 coach and trainer based in Suffolk. “She’s a real princess, a complete dream to ride and gives everything she’s got – she makes me smile every time I sit on her.”


1. Day Dream (Gemma Moss), 79.60%
2. WfD Just Dillon (WfD Just Dillon), 77.00%
3. Asterhof’s It’s Gino (Bryony Goodwin), 75.60%

1. Charming Duke (Eilidh Grant), 84.80%
2. Godrics Dionysus (Daisy Bullman), 79.80%
3. Champignon Sauvage (Annabel Hunter Blair), 79.60%

1. Wadacre Fancy Pants (Elly Darling), 79.00%
2. MM Carry Girl San (Naomi Maxted-Massey), 77.40%
3. Dypool Miami Reef (Frances Clare Turner), 62.60%


Photo © Kevin Sparrow