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Ponying up

Five area girls to compete
in Pony Club Championship

Hard work to finally pay off
in competition for a shot at finals

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (July 2008) – Since February, five young girls have been looking forward to competing in the national Pony Club Championships in Lexington, Va. They have lived and breathed the basics of horsemanship, hoping to show off what they have learned.

Oldham County Pony Riders

Photo submitted by Chris Miles

Oldham County area riders prepare
for competition at a recent match.

The girls, who are all members of the Covered Bridge Pony Club, train once a week as a team at Windhover Farm in La Grange, Ky. Four are Oldham County residents, and one lives in Jefferson County.
Windhover Farm owner Sara Greiling said the girls “really work hard at it.” Located on Old Sligo Road, Windhover Farm provides a place to teach mounted games and basic riding lessons.
The girls will compete in the junior division for ages 10-13 on July 24-27, representing the Mid-South Region. If they win or place in the top three or four spots of the Pony Club Championships, they will qualify for the Prince Philip Cup. This latter event will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park during the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event on April 23-26, 2009.
“It’s the only four star level event in North America,” said Missy Camp, whose daughter, Mary Peabody Camp, 11, is a member of the team. As an added bonus, the girls were able to attend the 2008 Rolex event and watch professional Rolex riders conduct pony games, she said.
The girls won the regional Mid-South Games Rally in February at the Kentucky Horse Park to qualify for the Pony Club Championships.
These championships consist of relay races on ponies, said Emily Ragan, whose daughter, McKenzie, is also on the team. Ragan, an instructor at Mint Spring Stables on Chamberlain Lane, said, “It teaches strength and coordination. And it’s fun.”
In an age where many kids do not get enough physical exercise Ragan said, “You can tell a difference in kids who’ve had strength training. This sport is a basis to put into something else and build on.”
When competing, teams will often take a team name, and the girls have chosen The Silver Speed as theirs. The national Pony Club Championships are held in Kentucky every three years.
The championship competition consists of many different disciplines, said Greiling. These include eventing, show jumping, mounted games and quizzing. “But the girls can only enter in one discipline,” she said.

Claire Miles

Photo by Chris Miles

Claire Miles poses
for a photo in between
events at a recent
competition.

The girls need to raise additional funds to cover the expense of this trip to cover hauling fees, feeding and boarding. Hauling five ponies to Virginia with a professional trailer would cost $1,500. Each member must also pay half of the $375 entry fee, the Mid-South Region covering the other half, said Ragan.
One in-kind donation that has been made so far is the use of a truck and trailer for transportation from a local farm owner, Ragan said. Not all of the girls own horses.
Participants in the Pony Club Championships travel from all over the country, including Illinois, Maine and Michigan. Speed and accuracy are extremely important in these competitions, said Ragan.
“The girls compete a lot,” Ragan said. In the winter months they compete in more indoor games, which do not take up as much space. Friendly competitions are held in Frankfort and Lexington.
The Silver Speed team trains together at Windhover Farm to perfect their techniques as a team. When competing as a team, many props are used and the girls must be in perfect sync, working together and with their horses.
“They may have to hop off of their pony and pick up a piece of equipment and then pass it off to the next team member,” said Greiling. The sport is as entertaining to watch as it is exciting for the girls who compete, she added.
The type of training they receive before competing “teaches a lot of balance, confidence and how to work together as a team,” she said.
“In horseback riding, it’s just you and the pony,” said Camp. “But games are really a team effort. The girls have to get along with each other and become a cohesive unit.”

• For more information or to make a donation, contact Emily Ragan at (502) 802-3277.

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