Young rider Mia Donaldson ended her week of dreams by scoring the supreme pony championship and Dick Saunders trophy at the 2021 Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) aboard her pony of a lifetime Wilderness Early Bird (Birdie).
The beautiful 12-year-old bay riding pony, who is produced by Team Ahern, has been one of the most consistent show pony and part-bred campaigners on the circuit and this top honour was thoroughly deserved.
Mia and Birdie’s 2021 RIHS campaign began with them taking the part-bred championship on Saturday, before capturing the show pony accolade just half an hour before they were due to compete in the supreme.
While she displayed all the characteristics of a true children’s riding pony, 148cm winner Birdie — who is by Chiddock Time Limit out of Wilderness Fancy Spice — was the ideal supreme performer; she twinkled along, showed movement to die for and exhibited perfect manners, aided by Mia’s lovely riding. The pair scored 27 — three scores of nine — from the judges Jennifer Williams, Frank Gunnell and Felicity Townley.
“I’ve had a brilliant week,” said Mia, who has owned Birdie for three years and won here with her in 2019. “She gets better and better each year.
“She’s a very straightforward pony, and she likes to go fast so she enjoyed her gallop in there. She’s a schoolmaster and I knew she’d be able to pull off the serpentines, too. She’s just so lovely.”
The Thompson family’s Dartmoor stallion Salcombe Starehole Bay, open mountain and moorland champion on Thursday, stood reserve for his producer Katy Marriott-Payne. The seven-year-old was making his RIHS debut this week and was hot on Mia and Birdie’s tail, scoring 25.
Alice Homer and her top intermediate Ballinclare, just a five-year-old, was third with a credible 24.
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