Berkley Gardner, age 12, and her pony Chillie were 2019 competitors in our favorite American Eventing Championships division, Jr. Beginner Novice 14 & Under. They kindly shared their AEC adventure with EN readers. Relive all of the AEC action here.
My journey to AECs was long but short. Let’s start with my little pony named Chillie. He came from the New Holland Auction in Pennsylvania. He then came to the farm where I started riding. He was there since he was 9. Chillie is now 15. He was everyone’s first eventing pony, and soon enough mine.
I started riding when I was 8, I am now 12. I have come a long way from a little summer camp to the AEC. I only started actually eventing one year ago. It was actually one year when I competed show jumping in the Rolex arena. The comparisons from last year to this year are insane! I went from jumping 1′ fences to getting ready to compete 3′! I moved barns, trainers, and it was the best thing for Chillie. He gives me his best every day. Even though Chillie has a little naughty streak in him, he is the best pony to teach me how to ride.
When I first arrived at Kentucky Horse park, I was amazed. It was a beautiful site, stable, and arenas. Chillie was settled in quickly and was ready to go. I rode him twice before I competed. In dressage he was amazing and was even better in competition. After dressage we were in 31st out of 38. Chillie was amazing in dressage and I was so happy about getting a 38.8.
The cross country course was so fun and me and Chillie went double clear! We then moved up to 25th.
We got some new clothes for show jumping and were ready to go! Chillie was a little cheeky but was good in the warmup. We got in the Rolex arena and it was intimidating. We almost went to the wrong first jump, but we made it to the correct one in time. We made the turn to #2 and went over it, but then knocked the rail. Chillie got annoyed and swerved right instead of left on the way to three, causing us to cross our line. Me and Chillie after #3 were riding the heck out of that.
Ring, we made it in time, and I was very happy. A couple tears came, but they soon stopped from the endless support from my parents, friends, and trainer. I was very happy with Chillie and we have sure come a long way from one year ago. I am super happy with Chillie and can’t wait for our journey to move on to Novice after the Area II Championships!