Not Just A Title Sponsor

August 30, 2019

If you were at the Kym K. Smith/USHJA Young Hunter Pony Championships (YHPC), you definitely saw title sponsor Kym K. Smith!

But she wasn’t sitting at a VIP table or up in the stands watching from a distance. Smith, accompanied by her adorable French Bulldog Romeo, spent the day stationed behind the awards table by the in-gate. She chatted with children riding and their parents and trainers, handed out the massive amounts of swag and prizes she’d provided for the occasion, and never stopped smiling. In fact, she even hopped in to help set fences between divisions at one point. She was having a blast.

Title sponsor Kym K. Smith thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the USHJA Young Hunter Pony Championships.
Photo by Jump Media

When I asked her what she enjoyed most about the YHPC, she answered immediately. Her favorite part of the weekend was the exhibitor’s party held on Saturday night. There wasn’t a horse show going on at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Va., that weekend, so the place was quiet and attention was centered on the Sallie B. Wheeler USEF/USHJA National Hunter Breeding Championships on Saturday and the YHPC on Sunday. On Saturday evening, the YHPC exhibitors, parents, trainers, and show staff all gathered under a tent by the ring for dinner.

Smith spent time speaking with everyone, and her excitement for the weekend was contagious. After a while, she brought her mini horse, Teddy, to the party, decked out in a custom YHPC cooler. She unveiled a custom-painted YHPC jump that was set up for winner photo-ops, and the kids all took turns posing in front of it with Teddy. Both Teddy and the jump/photo booth were huge hits!

Kym Smith and Teddy
Photo by Jump Media

The Teddy photo booth in front of the custom YHPC jump.
Photo by Jump Media

It was a lot of fun to see how much Smith enjoyed YHPC, cheering on all the kids and ponies. The amount of prizes and swag she provided for everyone, not just the winners, was fantastic, but her enthusiasm went far beyond the prize table. Smith got a lot of joy from simply seeing the riders and ponies compete. Smith wants to see this program and these championships grow, so she’s doing everything she can to help that happen.

There aren't many sponsors who get a tattoo with the name of the championships, but Kym Smith did!
Photo by Jump Media

The YHPC was a great opportunity for the riders and ponies who competed. The judges, Chance Arakelian and Jessie Lang, show manager Keedie Leonard, and technical coordinator and ringmaster Andrew Ellis were kind and helpful to all the riders, giving out tips on modeling and jogging when needed. The majority of ponies were held and given their final spiff-ups by trainers or parent, not professional grooms. It was a lovely atmosphere of education and fun.

Sponsors are the backbone of horse shows at every level. From the biggest of contracts, like those with Longines or Rolex, to the most modest of contributions, every single sponsor counts when it comes to supporting shows. They might not all take the hands-on approach that Smith did, but they’re essential pieces of the show world. Kudos to Kym Smith for jumping in wholeheartedly and creating such a wonderful experience.

Molly Sorge, the managing editor of Jump Media's content, grew up eventing and achieved her A rating in Pony Club. She spent a few years grooming on the A circuit before starting a 20-year career at the magazine The Chronicle of the Horse. She joined Jump Media in March 2018.