August 18, 2008 -- Though it was Morgan Moog's first time competing at the 2008 U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) Pony Medal, she and her horse Goodnight Moon topped the efforts of 184 other competitors to win the championship title.
In the USEF Pony Medal Final, the riders compete in small, medium and large divisions based on pony size and are judged on their equitation and ability to ride the course correctly. From there, the top riders are asked to come back for another course over fences. Riders may then be called back for a work off or additional test to determine the winner.
The top 20 riders were called back to compete for the Medal Final title, including two small, twelve medium and six large ponies. From there, the judges called back four riders for a work back: Lillie Keenan and High Cotton; Hayley Anderson and Ferdinand; Izabelle Quadracci and Morgan Moog and Goodnight Moon.
The work back was especially challenging, considering that the riders have very little time to memorize the call back test. The test included hand galloping to the first fence, cantering to the second fence, trotting the next fence and then the riders were asked to do three changes of leads on the longside of the indoor arena then halt and return to the line at a posting trot.
Since the test was so challenging, the judges called back the four riders, only this time the riders were asked to remove their stirrups. Again, the riders were put through the paces of walk, trot and canter on the flat only without the use of stirrups.
With anxious moments at the in gate, the placings were announced, awarding the Champion title to Moog and Goodnight Moon with Reserve Champion going to Keenan, 11, of New York, N.Y., and her mount High Cotton. High Cotton is a 14-year-old grey Welsh Cross gelding owned by Chansonette Farm.
Moog, 12, and her 10-year-old Welsh Cross gelding Goodnight Moon had competed at Pony Finals last year but the Pony Medal Final was new to them. After their first time in the ring, Moog said she felt really confident and was happy with her ride. She was also confident in getting called back as part of the top 20.
"I was really happy, and I didn't know that I would get that far," said Moog.
The work off was the toughest portion for Moog. She was the fourth rider to go which gave her an opportunity to watch the other riders perform the test.
"I was really, really nervous," said Moog. "I've never done a test before in real life."
Moog has only had Goodnight Moon for a year and this was their first Medals test.