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Training course developed for equestrian fans

Masterton Adult Riding Club president Vanessa Connell, Tinks Pottinger, Wairarapa Pony Club district commissioner Debs McNelly, and Masterton A and P Association president Peter McWilliam and board member Josie Powell-Thomas. PHOTOS/GIANINA SCHWANECKE

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
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A new cross-country training track has been developed for the region’s growing number of horse riders after the recently amalgamated Wairarapa Pony Club gifted a large array of cross-country jumps to the Masterton A and P Showgrounds.

The two Wairarapa Pony Clubs amalgamated last year to create a membership of about 50 members ranging in age from four years old to riders in their early 20s.

The club’s district commissioner Debs McNelly said having a training course available in the region would give riders and horses the opportunity to build confidence and train for competitions

“It’s a lot of money to go to a competition and stop at the first jump.”

With a limited number of cross-country courses available in the area, and others being closed for periods of time due to competitions, there was an opportunity to offer a service to many riders in the district and from further afield.

“It’s definitely the best step forward.”

Olympic horsewoman Tinks Pottinger agreed, saying there was definitely a need because equestrian numbers in the region were increasing.

“We wanted to develop it as a training centre because there is a lack of that in the lower North Island.

“We want it to be a hub for all riders – eventing, show jumping, dressage, and the Solway College equestrian academy students.”

Having a cross-country training track alongside the all-weather area and lovely grounds to ride in complemented what the grounds already offered.

Pottinger, who won a bronze medal in team eventing at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, said as a competitor it was also about the opportunity to mix with other people and expose horses to a different environment.

Cross-country paddock courses were popular in Britain but there weren’t any in Wairarapa, she said.

The course includes a variety of jumps, most of which are portable allowing for alternate track arrangements.

With good draining soil and portable jumps allowing for alternate track arrangements, the course would be able to be open almost all year round.

Masterton A and P Association board member Josie Powell-Thomas said it was an “awesome” opportunity which arose from the pony club amalgamation.

She said it was a community project which would benefit the region.

“We are really grateful for the opportunity.

“There is a real need for training. It’s not just the riders but also the horses.”

It was also an opportunity to showcase the Masterton A and P Showgrounds and the onsite accommodation facilities that were already in place for the motorhomers, making it the perfect centre for training workshops and camps.

The group hoped to hold an opening ceremony later and were already developing some workshops to run on the site.

The cross-country training track would be available for all user groups and individuals to book and use all year.

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