By Katherine Short
The first year I rode Lil her owner, Amy Plavin, told me about this award called the Golden Shamrock. I did not think much about it till we started competing and doing pretty well. I started sending in the papers and the points started adding up. Six years later here we are. It was an amazing journey with an amazing pony. I never thought that the pony I took on as a summer project would become such a big part of my life and that we would end up winning the Golden Shamrock and Connemara of the Year.
Her athleticism was evident from the day she was born, which is why she was named Lilia (named after the Russian gymnast who won the gold medal in the all around the year she was born). As a baby she delighted in running laps around the pond in her pasture while her weanling buddy just watched and ate grass. Lil’s first trainer, Joe Deleano noted that Lil was balanced, compact, athletic and biomechanically perfect for a cat-like performance horse. Lil had major talent, but she had a timid presence. Lil was also not easy on her rider and would take charge and test. Lil was not a horse for just anyone, she needed to gain trust from her partner, Joe said it best "careful what you asked for." Lil was a mare that was special; she had that look of great intelligence, quick strong actions and a physical spark that a performance horse has to take charge of the moment.
Katherine’s mother recalls the first moments she saw Katherine ride Lil in the field, “I felt that a partnership with Lil would be her biggest gift to you as her trainer. That summer Lil tested you, and you had to patiently search for that strength, and what you now know as trust. Lil was your best teacher, as you both had to protect yourself and deeply trust in each other's judgment and skills. But as you decided to have the goal of Millbrook as your first event, you started to move Lil and yourself thru many areas of training giving Lil the experiences that would encourage her to find her job.”
Over the years Lil and I have won at training level at multiple events in area 1, has won multiple championships in the 2’6” jumpers, won classes in open USDF dressage shows, been an ambassador for the breed at the Equine Affair and during the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. She has helped teach kids to lunge, ride a dressage test, and get around a cross country course for Pony Club. She helped my sister find confidence in the show ring around a cross rail hunter course, and packed a kid around a 2’6” equitation class. Her honest face, presence in the ring, and pony in your pocket personality make her a wonderful ambassador for the breed and a joy to be around!