With a week to go, the organisers of the New Zealand Pony Club Association’s annual championship event are hoping for good weather and ‘unemployed’ paramedics.
In what Event Secretary, Anna Cardno calls a “bit of a bold move”, Wairarapa Wellington Area hosts have this year decided to run two championships concurrently, and also hold a non-championship horse trials.
The Mounted Games and the Eventing Championships will play out over five days at Solway Showgrounds, from April 17-21, with two days of games to start the week.
The championships are competed in teams of six (for eventing) and five (for games) and the horse trials will be open to all riders.
About 200 riders are expected to take part.
The championships will be held at Solway Show Grounds, with the Cross-Country phase on April 20 at the Clareville complex.
“The Mounted Games are always incredible to watch,” Anna said.
“They are fast – riders vault on and off at speed to complete the various games – and they are extremely hungry for the win.”
She said competing horses had to be skilled overall to stand out in the competition – “well behaved and pretty one day, ballsy with the heart of a lion the next, and athletic and technical to finish”.
“The Champs are the pinnacle of the annual calendar for the riders and they have all worked hard to get here.”
The Championships have been well over a year in the making, Anna said.
“It’s a big investment of time, energy and funds to run Champs, and we couldn’t do it without the support of our fantastic sponsors.”
Wairarapa-Wellington has eight riders riding in the Eventing championship: Aiden Viviers on Giselle II, Molly Cardno on Packing Chaparral, Jess Viviers on Trogg LS, Ella Baigent-Brown on High Finance, Hollie Falloon on Farleigh Catterick, and Lucy Marshall on Just Benji. Individual riders are: Kayleigh McLachlan on Burnadeem, and Grace White on Under the Radar.
Wairarapa-Wellington representative riders for the NZ Mounted Games Championships are: Jeremy Thurston on Copper, Ayla Coupe on Clown, Xanthe Furkert on Honey, Emily Jones on Ice, and Lucy Marshall on Birdie. Reserve: Piper Marshall on Ace.
“These riders have worked damn hard to be selected to represent the Wairarapa Wellington region, and we are very proud of their achievements,” Anna said.
“The dedication required to produce a competitive combination of horse and rider is phenomenal.
“Many of these riders have multiple horses on the go. The senior riders are juggling work, or NCEA studies, alongside their horses.
“For some that means being up early to ride a horse before school, a couple after school and homework, and travelling the country to events in weekends.”
It’s not only the kids, their grooms and drivers work pretty hard too, Anna said.
“Horses are a massive commitment across the board.
“There have been times I’d gladly swap them for goldfish, and they can bring you from Hero to Zero on a disobedient day.
“Horse people are mad, no question.
“But we are good mad.”