May 2017 - A Big Deal For Small Horses

National Dressage Pony Cup expands to offer new year-end awards program for small horses.

by Yellow Horse Marketing

Over the last decade, the National Dressage Pony Cup (NDPC) has set out to prove that size doesn’t matter in the dressage arena by offering an innovative awards program and annual championship event to showcase the talents of ponies. Now National Dressage Pony Cup founder Jenny Carol is excited to announce the addition of a Small Horse Division to the NDPC Year-End Awards Program.

The National Dressage Pony Cup’s expanded year-end awards program to include a Small Horse Division provides yet another opportunity for small but mighty dressage mounts to shine. Photo by Jennifer M. Keeler.

“We see many competitors who choose to ride ponies and oversize ponies and small horses because they feel those are more compatible mounts for them,” Carol explains. “While the size of the horse or pony should not be an issue in the performance of a dressage test, we’ve found that some riders can feel at a disadvantage or that they are not taken as seriously as they might have been if their mount had been over 16 hands. They find themselves in a competitive ‘no man’s land’ where they can feel a lack of appreciation for the performance and dedication that they bring to the sport, so we created this program to provide recognition and rewards for their achievements in the show ring.”

Upcoming shows with NDPC classes in USDF Region 7 include Flintridge Dressage at the end of this month and Dressage At The Gaits, Paso Robles Dressage Summer Classic and the Golden State Dressage Classic, all in June.

Equines that measure taller than 149cm but shorter than 162cm (163cm with shoes) of any breed, registered or not, are eligible to participate in the new NDPC awards program. Year-end championships through eighth place will be awarded in open, adult amateur, and junior/young rider divisions at all levels from Intro through FEI, as well as musical freestyles. Scores may be earned at any USEF/USDF-licensed dressage competition, but riders and their mounts are required to become members of the NDPC, and small horses will need to be measured by a practicing veterinarian on a designated NDPC measurement form. For complete program rules and measurement forms, visit the NDPC website

Value Added

During a renowned career as a 5* FEI judge, Axel Steiner has always been a fan not only of ponies, but also of riders making good choices regarding mounts which will best help them succeed in their dressage goals. “I believe there are a great number of smaller stature riders who would be much happier on a shorter mount but can feel pressured to ride horses that are simply too large or big-moving for them to be comfortable on, because they believe it’s the only way they will get good scores and succeed,” said Steiner.

“Because of this, I always felt that the small horses/oversized ponies had little purpose and also little value in this country, which is a tremendous shame because there is a lot of talent out there with smaller horses. So I applaud the NDPC for taking the first step in promoting this division and providing separate awards, and I hope that other national organizations will follow. Then small horses will have a competitive mission and increase in value to owner and breeder, and smaller-stature riders will be much happier, safer, and successful.”

One of those riders who appreciates her smaller mounts is Jeanette (Jenny) Knight of Wolf Run Farm in Loxahatchee, FL. As soon as she heard about the National Dressage Pony Cup, Knight nominated her Welsh Cob stallion Taraco Mourinho and has been rewarded ever since with year-end awards.

Now, with the addition of the Small Horse Division, Knight can’t wait to participate with her 15.1-hand Lusitano stallion Eolo. “I am SO excited about this!” Knight exclaimed. “As with the ponies, the ‘in between ponies and horse size’ horses need their own level playing field, so to speak. There are a lot of very capable and fancy horses that are neither pony nor big horse size, and this is an awesome opportunity that the NDPC is giving them to shine within their own size division. Kudos to Jenny Carol for once again recognizing a need in the dressage community and working so hard to make the sport better for all of us.”

For more information about the National Dressage Pony Cup and the new Small Horse Division year-end awards program, visit and click on “Year-End Awards.”


The NDPC Championship Show returns to Lexington, Kentucky in conjunction with the KDA Classic I & II, July 7-9, and will once again include a pony-only Dressage Sport Horse Breeding Division as well as a return of the NDPC Young Pony Futurity for four-, five-, and six-year-olds.