Eighth-grader hopes to take riding skills down under NORTH--Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

February 24, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

Not every pony can be persuaded to wear a tuxedo, complete with trousers, black tie and top hat perched at a rakish angle.

And not every pony can learn to throw a flying disk.

But not every pony has Hampstead 14-year-old Linda Fahnestock for its owner and trainer.

Linda, an eighth-grader at Hereford Middle School, has persuaded ponies to do both of the above. And she is about to take her equitation on the road, to Australia -- if she can raise enough money to pay for the trip.

She is one of six youngsters nationwide to be selected to represent the national Pony of the Americas Club at two large horse shows in Australia in April. The trip is part of an exchange program with the Australian Paloosa Pony club.

"I eat, breathe and sleep horses," Linda said.

It shows. She sits down on her living room sofa, and picks up a bit from the floor. Behind the rocking chair sits a Western saddle.

Draped over a chair are two deer hides waiting to become an Indian costume. Her dad is making an Indian saddle to go with it.

And everywhere are photos of Linda on various horses.

The family now owns seven Ponies of the Americas, or POAs, and one Chincoteague pony. Three of the ponies are pregnant.

Linda said the POA is a relatively new breed of horse dating from the 1950s.

It began as a cross between the appaloosa and the Shetland pony, she said. The POA is spotted like the appaloosa and shares many of that breed's characteristics, but the POA stands 46 to 56 inches tall at the shoulder. The Australian version is called the Paloosa Pony.

Linda's mother, Karen Fahnestock, said that Linda needs to raise $1,500 to $3,000 for the trip. So far, she has about $400.

The Maryland Pony of the Americas Club will hold a benefit riding clinic March 14 in Bel Air to raise money for the trip.

Mrs. Fahnestock said her daughter is selling handmade earrings to raise money. She is also accepting donations.

"Her father will get her there if he has to sell me," Mrs. Fahnestock said.

Linda has been showing POAs for five years.

Riders competing for the Australian exchange trip were judged 50 percent on riding, 25 percent on a personal interview, and 25 percent on an essay about "Why I could represent the Pony of the Americas Club."

Originally a runner-up, Linda was selected for the trip in late November, after a Colorado teen-ager withdrew because of a scheduling conflict.

In 1991, Linda won the Maryland Pony of the Americas Club "all-round using pony" championship on her mare, BH Candy Britches, more frequently referred to as "Candy."

This pony, like her rider, is extremely versatile. Linda uses Candy for jumping, English and Western riding, halter classes, costume classes, and speed events such as barrel racing.

Candy is expecting a foal in March and will be shown by Linda Fahnestock's 4-year-old niece next year.

Linda now competes with her gelding, KS's Fireball Twist, or Fireball, which won the Maryland club's 1992 "all-round" pony championship.

Because of a lengthy Australian quarantine on imported horses, neither horse will accompany its owner to Australia.

Linda said that while she is overseas, she will stay with an Australian family, and the Australian club will provide a trainer and a pony for her to ride at the National and World Paloosa Pony shows to be held in Dubbo, New South Wales, in April.

Neither Linda's mother nor her father, Michael, rides. But both are on the board of directors of the Maryland Pony of the Americas Club.

They take an active role in Linda's horse showing. The trio went to shows in 15 cities last year, including the National POA Show in Oklahoma City.

Linda does the training as well as the riding. She said she trains her animals to be "kid safe."

Linda is also on the youth advisory board for the national club. Next weekend, she is flying to Kansas City, Mo., for the club's national convention.

Mrs. Fahnestock said her own role is to select the best bloodlines and develop a program of breeding ponies for sale.

"My dad's into the financing," Linda added.

Mr. Fahnestock also drives the eight-horse trailer, and makes some of Linda's costumes.

Mrs. Fahnestock said POAs are in increasing demand on the East Coast. She said a typical price for a POA is about $2,500.

But Linda Fahnestock recently turned down an offer of $10,000, plus a foal each year, for her champion mare, Candy.

She said, "Candy will never be sold."

Anyone wishing to make a donation toward Linda Fahnestock's Australian trip may send it to Linda Fahnestock, c/o Union National Bank, 1631 N. Main St., Hampstead, Md. 21074. Donations may also be designated for Linda Fahnestock and sent to the Pony of the Americas Club, Inc., 5240 Elmwood Ave., Indianapolis, Ind., 46203.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.