Regan Capone and her horse, Tia Maria, win ribbons at a show in Saugerties, N.Y., in 2023. (Photos provided by the Capone family)


Regan Capone has grit. At 4-foot-10 inches tall, weighing in at about 92 pounds, the Ocean City Intermediate School student can soar in the air nearly 3 feet. Well, she does it with the help of her pony, Tia Maria.

And it isn’t that the 13-year-old Sea Isle City resident is good at riding horses. She excels at it. In fact, Regan and Tia Maria, a Welsh pony-thoroughbred cross, just added more accolades to a long list of them over the last few years.

She ranked second in the nation for Horse of the Year Children’s Hunter Pony division by the U.S. Equestrian Federation and she ranked first in Zone Two (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) for the Children’s Pony Hunter Division, Small, Mediums.

In August, she was the Reserve Overall Champion at HITS Pony Finals in Saugerties, New York, and she and Tia qualified for Pony Finals 2024 in Kentucky.

Sea Isle Mayor Leonard Desiderio highlighted her accomplishments in his latest community newsletter, saying this, “We are very happy to call Regan ‘one of our own,’ and we look forward to seeing her (and her horse, Tia Maria) add to their list of impressive milestones in the future! Well done, Regan!”

Regan, a seventh-grade student, and her sister, Lily, 17, a senior at Ocean City High School, have dedicated years to riding. Lily in her own right is an accomplished rider at a high level. She leases Devito, a warmblood gelding.

Regan explained how she keeps improving at the sport. Her best advice to anyone in competition is to “watch better riders than me and try to learn from them, really good trainers and get a pony like Tia.”

Regan and Tia Maria showcase their talents.

Despite the inherent danger that comes with riding horses, she said she doesn’t get scared. And every practice, every competition, she gives it her all, but always supports others because it is about teamwork.

“Work hard and support all of the riders and cheer them on,” she said.

Regan and Lily’s parents, Melissa and Kevin Capone, have been supportive of their daughters’ love of horses and the sport because it is something that makes them happy and showcases their talent, dedication and fortitude.

“They are good kids. I call us ‘Team Capone.’ My girls are tough, they show grit and they’re a little scrappy,” Melissa said in an interview Saturday. “But they are nice kids.”

Capone said she would be remiss not to mention the great trainers, Chrissy Covarrubias and Eleanor Robinson, at Pembrook Farm in Eldora, N.J.

“They’re wonderful trainers. They’ve known our girls since Regan was two and Lily was six,” Melissa emphasized.

The determined duo hit the high notes with jumps just under 3 feet at a show in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Every year, Regan would ask when she would be old enough to ride. When she turned six, Eleanor Robinson told Regan to get her boots on, “You’re going to ride.”

“We are proud,” Melissa said. “Regan and Lily are both incredible.”

Eventually, the sisters would like to go into business together and open their own show barn and training facility.

While Regan and Lily are laser-focused on riding and competing, they also know the importance of helping others.

Over the past few years, Regan has raised funds through sponsors for Mike’s Seafood Polar Bear Run/Walk for Autism in Sea Isle, the Love of Linda Cancer Fund, which is a Cape May County charity, and the Run for Nurses, a run/walk in Sea Isle that benefits the Cape Regional Foundation.

Melissa said that Kevin, who works as a chef at Mike’s Seafood, has impressed upon the girls how important the autism cause is.

And she listened.

She has raised about $4,000 for Mike’s Seafood autism fundraiser over three years and $50,000 over five years for the Love of Linda charity, and nearly $2,000 for the Run for Nurses, Melissa said.

“I think that the things that Kevin and I have instilled in the girls more than anything is to be kind and to help others,” Melissa noted. “They are nice kids and we are so proud of them.”

Lily on Devito and Regan on Tia Maria at Pembrook farm in 2023.