By Jan Westmark-Allan
Victoria Colvin’s pony career could be summed up in one word: extraordinary! Tori, as her friends call her, has won almost every major title possible in the pony world, riding up to 12 ponies a weekend while remaining calm, collected and making the whole experience look easy. If ever there was a “pony whisperer,” Tori would be it. It seems there isn’t a pony that Tori hasn’t been able to ride, and ride well.
Now at the ripe old age of 13, Tori is moving on to bigger and better things, leaving her pint-size equine teammates behind. “I train with Scott Stewart and Ken Berkley and now I am competing in the junior hunters, the Big Eq and the jumpers,” Tori said. “I am still showing in the green ponies, but that’s the only pony division I ride in. I also just rode in my first grand prix.”
Tori not only made her grand prix debut, but won the $25,000 Spring 6 Grand Prix in Wellington with two clear rounds, beating out a field of 32 riders including veterans Margie Engle, Kent Farrington and Jimmy and Danielle Torano. “I didn’t think I would win, I just wanted to have a smooth trip,” Tori said, adding that she competed Monsieur Reverdy owned by Rivers Edge. “He is an amazing horse and I am still smiling after winning.”
A Pony Career That Almost Never Happened
As unflappable and focused as she is, it’s hard to believe that Tori’s stunning pony career almost never happened. “When I was six years old I started on a leadline pony named Gigi. She ran away with me and I never wanted to get back on,” Tori said. “Debbie Stephen’s suggested to my mom that she borrow Buster Brown from Gene Mische, and that was it! I loved him. He was the safest and best pony around.”
Tori grew up training with her mom, Brigid, at their home in Loxahatchee, Florida and said she started in the short stirrups division in 2006 with Buster Brown and never looked back. While she has ridden more ponies than most kids could ever dream of, Tori still claims to have a favorite. “I love every pony that I have ridden but my favorite is still Ballou, because I made him,” she said. “I still own Ballou and I also have a large green named For The Best. He will debut in 2012. All the other ponies I have ridden over the years have been catch rides.”
Some of Tori’s catch rides have included piloting Dr. Betsee Parker’s ponies into the winner’s circle. Tori rode Vanity Fair to the Large Pony Hunter Championship at the Pennsylvania National and For The Laughter to the Grand Championship at Pony Finals, to name just a few. “Scott has always told me to let each pony go like they were meant to go. Don’t try to change them,” Tori said. “Some of the things I have won include Best Child on a Pony at Harrisburg twice, Best Child at Washington, Champion at all indoors numerous times and at Devon as well. I was also Grand Champion Pony at Pony Finals four times and I was also high score at Capital Challenge with a 94 and 95.”
The Future Looks Golden
As one of the busiest young riders on the circuit, Tori said she certainly has to thank the ponies for teaching her so much along the way. “I learned everything from riding the ponies. I also learned a lot by watching other kids. You learn what behavior you don’t want by watching kids come out of ring,” she said, adding that she is happy that she will continue to show in the green ponies for a while.
It’s not surprising that Tori has lofty goals in the horse world, and no one will be surprised when she accomplishes them. “I was almost 10 years old when I started doing the junior hunters, and I have so much fun riding them. I also do the high junior jumpers and the Big Eq. My goal in the equitation is to win all the Big Eq finals. I also want to win a USHJA Derby Final and compete in the World Cup and the Olympics.”
While gold medals will hopefully shine in Tori’s future, Tori is a normal teen when it comes to her regular life. She loves reading books and playing tennis and likes movie star Robert Pattinson. Tori goes to the Number 1 Education Place in Wellington for school and said that science is her favorite subject. When pressed to find out what she would do if she wasn’t a rider, Tori said she would compete in tennis. Luckily for the show world, and for the hundreds of ponies that Tori has ridden over the years, she didn’t pick up a tennis racket as a kid but instead picked up the reins, resulting in one very extraordinary pony career.