[Click here for a list of Ava’s riding record/accomplishments]

Ava Hartman, born in 2008, has been riding horses and ponies since she was five years old. She trains with Janet Salem and Lauren Kissel of Patchwork Farms, LLC in Alpharetta, Georgia (U.S.).

Ava started her horse showing career in 2017. That year, she competed in three local shows, in the cross-rails division.

In 2018, on medium pony Foxmor Lovestruck (Stewie), Ava competed in a number of local and USEF ‘A’ shows in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina in the Short-Stirrup and 11 & Under divisions. It was a great season, which included several Champion and Reserve ribbons, a win in the 2018 GHJA Finals Short-Stirrup Derby (out of 18 riders), and several year-end awards, including the year-end GHJA high point award for Short-Stirrup Equitation and high point reserve champion in the Short-Stirrup Hunters. During 2018, Ava set a goal for herself to compete at Pony Finals within the next few years.

Ava Hartman & Foxmore Lovestruck after winning the 2018 Short Stirrup GHJA Derby.

Having accomplished her Short-Stirrup goals in 2018, for the 2019 show season, Ava moved up to the Large Pony Division jumping 3′ courses. She began riding Sugarbrook West Point (Jackson) in February 2019 and competed in her first Large Pony Division competition that March. At her third show competing in the Larges, at the USEF “AA” rated Aiken Spring Classic Finale, Ava and Jackson had a great weekend winning the Under Saddle and Handy rounds and, importantly, earned Reserve Champion for the division. The Reserve Champion ribbon earned Ava and Jackson’s trip to Pony Finals 2019. Later, that June, at the Pensacola Summer Classic, Ava and Jackson earned their first Champion ribbon in the Large Pony division.

Less than a year after setting their goal to ride in Pony Finals, in August 2019, Ava competed in Pony Finals 2019. It was a magical two weeks of riding in Lexington, KY where she competed in the Kentucky Summer Classic, the USHJA Derby, USEF Pony Finals and the Marshall & Sterling U.S. Pony Medal Finals in the Altec Arena. Acting as her own groom (with help from her mother and her trainer), she was thrilled to win the Best Turned Out Large Pony award out of 147 large ponies.

Ava Hartman and Sugarbrook West Point at Pony Finals 2019

Later that year, in November 2019, Ava and Jackson competed at the Georgia Hunter Jumper Association (GHJA) Grand Finale. The highlight of the weekend was taking top prize in the GHJA Pony Equitation Medal Final.

Ava Hartman winning the GHJA 2019 Pony Equitation Medal Final

In the 2020 show season, despite a long layoff due to COVID-19, Ava and Jackson began to catch their stride. The pair qualified for Pony Finals 2020 their first time showing for the season in December 2019. In June, Ava also qualified a Large Green Pony, SF Scarlett, for Pony Finals. She was particularly proud of this accomplishment given that she had worked hard with her trainers to train and put lead changes on Scarlett earlier in the year.

Ava, Jackson and Scarlett at the Old Atlanta Classic Horse Show

In disappointing fashion, however, the 2020 USHJA Derby, USEF Pony Finals and the Marshall & Sterling U.S. Pony Medal Finals were all cancelled due to a COVID-19 outbreak. This was especially heartbreaking given that Ava, Jackson and Scarlett were already in Kentucky ready to compete in the shows (in fact, she had already completed her USHJA Derby warm up rides before learning of the cancelations).

After these shows were cancelled, Ava set her sights on her last remaining competition goal for the year – making it to the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Pony Equitation Finals. WIHS invites the top 25 pony riders in their point standings. At the end of the competition year, Ava was extremely happy to have finished 11th in the WIHS standings and was invited to compete in the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals.

In the weeks leading up to the WIHS , in addition to her regular lessons, Ava worked with legendary trainer Sonny Stevens to hone her equitation skills in anticipation of the competition. On October 25, 2020, she rode against many of the nation’s top pony riders in the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals (held in Tryon, NC, instead of Washington D.C. due to COVID-19). Despite the rain, she had great rides and ended up in 3rd Place overall.

Ava Hartman Placing 3rd in the 2020 WIHS Pony Equitation Final

Ava and Jackson finished the 2020 season with 3 Champion and 5 Reserve Champion placings in the Large Pony Division and she and Scarlett earned 3 Reserve Champion awards. Ava and Jackson earned the GHJA year-end High Point Champion award in the Large Pony Division.

Ava Hartman and Her Junior Hunter, Impression

In December 2020, Ava sold Jackson to a rider in California and began looking for her first horse. In February 2021, she purchased Impression (Poe), a 16.2 hand dark bay. Having only competed in the Jumpers in Europe and in a single hunter division at WEF, Poe was very inexperienced, but, according to Ava, he “has a good brain, is handsome and loves to jump”.

In May 2021, Ava and Poe competed in the Children’s Hunter division at Tryon, where they scored an 85 in their first hunter round together and ended up Reserve Champion. In June 2021, they moved to the Junior Hunter 3’3″ Division and, after a couple shows, won Champion (again at Tryon). At the same show, they competed in their first National Hunter Derby finishing in second place (out of 19) with two 86s. They were the highest scoring non-pro rider.

In December 2021, after several Champion, Reserve Champion and 1st Place Classic Ribbons, Ava and Poe moved up to the Junior Hunter 3’6″ Division in Aiken. They won the Classic (84, 85) and Reserve Champion that same weekend.

Ava Hartman & Impression (Junior Hunter 3’6″)