Sunday was it: the culmination of all the hard work and experiences that the Pony Clubbers from around the word came for. It was Nations Cup day. Two 3′ jumping rounds with a jump off for any teams tied. The riders met their horses on Saturday and had an hour to test them out. Some were lucky enough to draw the same horses they had for the Kangaroo Cup CT the weekend before, but most found themselves on brand new mounts.
The morning was glorious. Sunny, blue skies with a slight breeze. Fate was smiling down on me again and I was conscripted to be the jump scribe. I took a quick walk around the course with the judge and then manned my position in the booth with an amazing view of all the action.
The horses came out ready to play. There was only one refusal the entire day which unfortunately resulted in a fall. For these girls to have just met the horse and sitting in all new tack going over a very tight and technical 3′ course and doing it well? It was inspiring.
I learned a lot watching the rounds, speaking with the jump judge and listening to the course designer. I’ve now had the chance to volunteer as a dressage score runner, cross country jump judge and jump scribe and must say the scribe is my favorite. It left no chance for pictures of the rounds, but it was a great way to see the show and take part.
The first round saw only one rail down, the refusal/fall, one girl who jumped fence 4 instead of 11 at the very end of her course, and all within optimal time. The judge and designer, friends for years, started thinking of way to make those rails fall out of the very deep jump cups as there were plenty of hard knocks that resulted in the rails bouncing a bit but staying put.
Three horses stood out during the entire day. One was a gorgeous liver chestnut saddlebred. I’m partial to the breed anyway but he just floated over the course as if they were mere speed bumps along the way. He was moving in a lovely canter where he was rocked back on his hind end and it looked effortless. After his round, he knew he did well and started prancing and threw in a few happy bucks. The big guy deserved to feel happy.
The second was another chestnut, actually now that I think about it they all were, who bucked between every single fence. The poor rider had a lot of extra energy to contain, but did an excellent job making it clear around every time. The final horse was a small little Ferrari, owned by a fellow blogger too, and is a pony mix of some kind. He flew around that course! His small, short stride made the rider work hard to make the distances happen and they put in the fastest rounds all day long. He looked like a ton of fun!
The second round saw the course get more technical and there were a few more rails down and one time fault. At the end there would be a jump off: team USA versus Hong Kong for 3rd/4th place and team New Zealand versus Australia for 1st/2nd. The jump off was my absolute favorite part. Six jumps with the first four being set in a near circle jumping each from different directions. It was tight. It was fast. It was amazing!
Lots of rails fell and one rider jumped the wrong sequence. The horses looked a little hot and tired by this point, but were still in it to win. Of note, the horses that were in a nice balanced canter presented not only a lovely picture, but also had the cleanest and fastest rounds. The ones who were flat and strung out were a little hard to watch and the judge made comments every time. In the end the placings went: Canada, Hong Kong, US, Australia and New Zealand to win it all!
All the riders deserved to feel really proud of the effort they put in. New horses, new tack, new country and an exhausting 10 days leading up to it and they all looked amazing out there. I’m sad to see the program end, but I know they are all happy to get back home. The next IPE year will be in 2019 and I have no idea what the hosting country will be. I’m just hoping that when it comes back around to the US in 2027, that it will be close by again so I can participate and help out when able. If you or anyone you know are in Pony Club, the event is something worth looking into. I don’t know all the selection details, but I do know you have to be at least B rated and at least 17 years of age at time of selection.