Rancho Santa Fe 10-year-old Evelyn Walker and her pony Captain Crunch recently claimed the Small Green Hunter Pony Championship at the 2017 United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Pony Finals in Lexington, Kentucky. Despite her young age, Evelyn is a Pony Finals veteran, making her third appearance at the championship and winning her first overall title.
“It was really overjoying,” said Evelyn. “It was an amazing feeling, all the butterflies I had in my stomach went away. I thought I had done really well and I was really happy with myself when I found out I won.”
“It was a pretty magical moment,” said mom Stephanie Walker, who was watching live while other family members, such as Evelyn’s grandparents, caught her top placement on the broadcast on the USEF network.
Evelyn, a fifth grader at R. Roger Rowe School, has been riding horses since she was 3 years old, starting at the Rancho Riding Club in Rancho Santa Fe.
“I just love animals in general and thought riding was really cool,” Evelyn said.
She competed in her first show five years ago and now trains with Michael Savage in Encinitas just about every day.
Captain Crunch has been an ideal pony for Evelyn, she has trained and competed with him for a year and a half.
“He’s a very loveable pony, he’s so sweet and nice,” Evelyn said of Captain Crunch. “He has a pretty unusual color, he’s a dark, purple-y chocolate color and he has a silver mane and tail.”
Evelyn and the 2009 Welsh Pony gelding won the Model phase with a score of 260.40 and placed second with 259.00 in the Under Saddle phase on the first day of competition. They had a commanding lead at the top of the leaderboard after claiming fourth in the Over Fences phase with a score of 234.50.
“I do get nervous but my mom always says ‘Just do your best’ and that’s what I’m really thinking about when I go in competition,” Evelyn said. “When I do my best, I can never be disappointed in myself.”
Evelyn and Captain Crunch were able to clinch the title with a score of 988.40.
A hard part about being a growing girl in this sport is that Evelyn has outgrown her beloved small pony Captain Crunch. She is beginning training with her new large pony Xander, hoping to find similar success.
“I’m getting to know him,” Evelyn said of Xander. “He’s never been to a show before so we have to learn together. I’m super excited about it.”