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Date: Fri 21-Aug-1998



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Date: Fri 21-Aug-1998

Publication: Bee

Author: KIMH

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Elana Bertram -- Pony Club Championships In Kentucky


LEXINGTON, KY. -- Elana and Cherie have been good friends for eight years and

had dreamed about making a special trip together and early this month they had

that opportunity.

Elana Bertram, 16, and Cherie -- or, more accurately, Cristal Blue Cherie the

registered quarter horse mare -- made that special trip ... all the way down

to the United States Pony Clubs National Championships at the Kentucky Horse

Park in Lexington, Kentucky.

Elana, a junior at Newtown High School and member of the Poverty Hollow Pony

Club, and her horse, Cherie, qualified for the U.S. National Championships and

became an integral part of the Metropolitan combined training team (four

riders, four horses, and a horse manager) that finished eighth overall out of

24 teams.

Thursday, July 30: The scope of the park was just amazing -- they had 21 barns

of 50 stalls each, room for more than 1,000! horses. The hills just rolled

away in every direction. The grass wasn't blue, but it certainly was greener

than up in Connecticut.

Elana is a varsity debater, a member of the NHS drama club and choral program,

and an artist. But she is also a young horsewoman and the U.S. National

Championships might just be the pinnacle of everything she has done so far.

The Championships combined horse management and riding in a three-day event

that hosted some 1,200 competitors in combined training, Showjumping,

Dressage, and Knowdown. For Elana, who has been competing in Pony Club since

she was eight and Cherie was three, it was her first time at such an expansive


"It was, like, the high point of my life," she said. "It was such a thrill to

go down there. I worked hard to qualify and I'm so glad I went. This year, we

stepped up and we deserved to go."

Joining Elana and Cherie on the Metropolitan team (comprising Long Island, New

York City, and Westchester and Fairfield counties) was Libby Pforr and

Chammsky of Meadowbrook Hounds PC, Emma Lynch and Companion of the Wilton PC,

Sara Hayes and Jewel's Mick Dundee of the Wilton PC, and horse manager

Martha-Susan Rendeiro of Wilton PC.

Friday, July 31: We got our horses off the trailer and, much to my delight,

Cherie was perfectly sound! The driver, Steve Loheac of Long Island, said that

some of the horses even slept a little on the air-suspension ride overnight

trip. We walked in big circles for a long while, then Sara, Emma, Libby and I

took our noble steeds to the stalls and took off all the protective shipping

wraps on their legs and tails. We walked some more and Cherie decided that she

liked Kentucky grass, so we grazed in the shade.

Each team was judged in horse management -- which was, basically, care of the

tack room and horses and cleanliness of the stalls -- and riding ability over

the course of the three-day competition.

In horse management, the team had to set up a tack room, keep a tack trunk

with required equipment in order, and keeping the stalls cleaned. The team had

to endure four formal inspections as well as daily inspections and ended up

finishing 10th in that discipline ... maybe due, in part, because of its

lavishly-decorated tack room, which impressed a couple of judges from Texas

quite a bit.

For Elana, the inspection process of horse management wasn't all that nerve

wracking. She had been Clubbing for eight years and on each step up a level,

such inspections got harder.

"You're constantly thinking about it," she said. "You're always looking around

the tack room -- 12 hours a day."

Saturday, August 1: And so it begins! Competition started officially at noon

but, boy, did we have lots to do before then! Sara, Libby and I all chose to

ride our horses just to get them out and used to the environment. Naturally,

every other competitor had the same idea, so the three rings they had open

were more than packed.

When we stepped out onto the Steeplechase track, it was so thrilling! Bruce

Davidson and Karen O'Connor had ridden their horses over the same ground just

months before! It was sinking in -- we were going to tide on the Rolex

Four-Star Course!! Well, not really, but we'd be riding past some of the

advanced jumps, and that in itself made it a thrill.

In riding, the team is judged in dressage, cross country and show jumping

events. The team has four riders, but the three best efforts are taken for the

cumulative score -- which served Metropolitan well, since it was without a

horse on two of the three days of competition.

The first day was dressage.

"It went really well," said Elana. "We were very consistent."

Elana scored a 43.5, while Sara did a 44.5, Libby did a 43.5, and Emma

finished the best at 42.5. The scoring afforded the team to drop its highest

score and rank the remaining three and Metropolitan found itself 18th when the

day closed.

The second day was cross country.

Monday, August 3: Decked out in royal blue and red, Cherie and I were both

ready to take on the world. First, we had to get through safety check, which

we did. Again, we were the second-to-last pair on course, riding at three in

the afternoon. It was such a thrill, though!! Cherie went clean, and perfectly

within the time. There were no hairy moments, no almost-refusals, every jump

came up at a perfect distance, and Cherie was an angel!

At the end of the day, Metropolitan was ranked eighth, mainly because the team

had little problem with the final hurdle -- the Bank, fence 18, which

eliminated quite a few riders. It had a log about two feet in front of it,

with flowerpots and red geraniums between the foot of the bank and the log and

the sight of it caused many horses to refuse the jump.

All that left was show jumping, which was supposed to done on the Rolex field,

but which had to be changed because it was chewed up by tetrathalon riders.

That left the competition to an old sand ring instead of a huge, rolling grass

field where, Elana said, "you could still see the hoof prints of such equine

heroes as Biko and Molokai."

Sand ring notwithstanding, Metropolitan performed well, with Libby and Elana

riding clean, and that helped the team finish eight overall.

Tuesday, August 4: Cherie was perfectly tuned in to me in the warmup ring and

I feared I'd left my best jump in the warmup ring! But no, as we cantered into

the ring I just knew that this ride was going to be fun. Setting herself up

for the first jump, Cherie kicked some sand into the base of the fence and a

gasp went up in the audience under the pavilion, thinking she was going to

refuse the first fence -- never a good thing! In reality, refusing was the

furthest thing from either of our minds.

Elana had a chance to reflect upon her good fortune. At the qualifier for the

U.S. National Championships, 12 riders qualified for the trip but a six-member

council made the selection for the only team allowed to go.

Elana was, obviously, one of those selected.

"I have been doing this since I was young," she said, "and I really would have

missed going if I hadn't been picked."

Elana has had a lot of success already, though. While taking lessons at

Frazier Farm of Woodbury with Sarah Dalton-Morris, Elana and Cherie finished

fourth at the Wilton Pony Club Horse Trials, was on the second-place team at

the Inter-regional Combining Training Really at Kent School, finished third at

the Rhine Valley Horse Trials, and finished second at the Millbrook Equestrian

Center Horse Trials.

All before going to Kentucky.

The results of those competitions qualified Elana and Cherie for the Novice

Championships at Stoneleigh-Burnham School in Massachusetts in October.

Still, her mind will drift back to Kentucky and the U.S. National

Championships and the memories that will no doubt stay with her forever.

Tuesday, August 4: We broke down the tack room with the last of our energy and

were all packed to load the trailer the next day. It was hard to believe

anything that had happened. With the tack room half setup, it felt just as it

had when we were setting up, as if the whole competition hadn't even started

yet, and the last three days had been a great daydream.

Comments are open. Be civil.

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