Pony of the Americas Club, Inc. — Official Breed Website

POAC Magazine Cover Story

Madison Bandler

September 2013
Madison Bandler

How did I get started in POA'S? I'm sure my story is no different than most of yours. I don't think there's a child out there who didn't want a pony growing up. We POA kids are just lucky in that our parents were crazy enough to actually buy a real, living, breathing pony, unlike the plastic replicas most children end up with. As it turns out, POA's are the gift that just keep giving, because who can stop at just one pony? 17 years, hundreds of shows, multiple ponies, and countless memories later, I can stilUook back on that Christmas day 2000 when I gazed into the eyes of my very first pony, One Cute S (Q) and it all started. My name's Madison Bandier, but you may know me as just another one of Tom's brats.

None of this would have been possible without the Demirjian 's introducing us to the breed. My story begins at Sarah Tupper's farm, where I first started taking lessons and where I fell in love with my first pony. Q packed me around through lead line and most of 8 & under, but I still had that itch to jump and game like the big kids. Q wasn't quite ready for that yet, so the quest began for a pony who was not only fast, but also reliable enough for a little girl to ride. I was extremely fortunate to lease Doc's Built Tough (BT) from my "big sis" Jodi Walther. BT plopped over jumps and raced around the barrels while I held on tight and while my mom attempted to prevent herself from having a heart attack. BT is still to this day the most fun horse I have ever ridden and I can't thank the Banning's enough. As for Q, she now has a wonderful home with the Ellis family and I know she'll take care of Lauren like she took care of me.

By the end of my 8 & under career, I was desperate for an all around pony. One who could win not only on the rail, but also in horsemanship, jumping and reining. Our search for this fine specimen brought us to the Richardson family, from whom we bought the love of my life, He's Intensified (Skippy). It was a tough adjustment learning to spur stop and do flying lead changes, but in our first year together we traveled the country and ended up with the national equitation traveling trophy. We recently sold Skippy to the Flack's, and as hard as it was to see him go, I'm excited to see him give Miles the same amazing experiences that he gave me.

The year that my family bought Skippy, we began seeking guidance from Tom Walmsley and Cathy Hamer. Cathy, or Marge as she is also known, gave me the confidence to overcome my fear of jumping and the skills to succeed in English. And where to begin with Tom Walmsley? My earliest memories with Tom are from our first trip to the Turkey Circuit in Florida. I was still a polite and na'ive child back then, as hard as that is to believe. Training with Tom not only had an extreme impact on how well I did in the show arena, but also on who I am as a person today. Whether it's helping me find decorations for my zen garden, getting overly competitive at "Don't Forget the Lyrics'', or just being there to calm my stomach before a class, Tom never disappoints. Although he doesn't play a big role in the training itself, Kenny O'Hara is vital in my horse showing experience. The first show I ever went to without my parents, I fell off in the warm up arena and landed in a massive puddle. Embarrassed and sore, I looked around for my mom instinctively. Instead of my mom, Kenny came to the rescue, helping me up and getting me cleaned up just in time for my class, I can always count on either Tom or Kenny to be there in my times of need, which, if you don't know me, are quite often.

My current pony, A Sudden Star (Diesel), was born and raised in our barn and has proved himself as something special. As a yearling, I would drag Diesel around, trying hats on him and trying to teach him tricks. My brother, Andrew, showed him initially and I took over by Diesel's final year in junior. We have our ups and downs, just as all pony/rider pairs do, but I can always count on Diesel to perform at his best when we're in the show ring.

As helpless and as high maintenance as I am, it's no surprise that I require a great deal of assistance when it comes to shows. Someone to groom my horse, someone to groom me, and someone to get me to the gate on time. Most of the time my mother gets the pleasure of accomplishing these tasks, as daunting as they may be. Some days we're best friends, and some days we can't be in the same room together, but at the end of every day she's still my biggest supporter, and for that I can't thank her enough. My father has been invaluable in my showing career, even if he doesn't always know what's happening. You put up with a lot, and I can always count on you to tell me I did a good job when Mom and Tom are too mad to speak to me. Thanks dad for supporting this hobby of mine, and for funding my expensive taste in show clothes. To my RLF family, I can't express my gratitude. The fun doesn't end when the show is over, and you guys have made the after hours some of the best times in my life. Nini and Papa, you don't realize how much I appreciate you coming to shows in the blistering heat, and your support means the world to me. Thank you to Sarah Tupper and Kelly Cannon for starting me out in the world of PO A's. I wouldn't be where I am today without your help. A special thanks to Nick Bunn for the foot massages; You're the best horse show boyfriend ever. To all of the people I've encountered through POA's over the years, thank you for making my experience a great one.

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