2017 Pony Club IPE One Day Event

Trainer enlisted my help as a jump judge for Sunday. The teams scrambled to make four teams of five kids (one from each country) and got a chance to ride their new horses for one hour on Saturday. I’m amazed at these riders. Brand new to them horses and they only had an hour to get acquainted.

The weather was so much better for Sunday. Sunny and low 90s with a cool breeze. The riders all come from countries that are deep in winter so they might not have been so happy with our southern heat and humidity.

Sunday was the first competitive event as each team geared up for dressage followed by a derby type round with four stadium fences followed immediately by eleven cross country jumps. The riders from Hong Kong had never been cross country before. They only ever ride in an arena. So different than here in the US and I was sad I didn’t get a chance to talk to them about how they board and care for their horses.

I was put in charge of the up bank at 13 and the palisade at 14 and thankfully all riders were clear through both. In fact pretty much all riders had clear rounds with only two falls on course and two refusals out of 20 runs. Pretty impressive for only just meeting their horse the day before!

The up bank at 13 had an uphill approach into the shade.
Then they continued uphill with a right hand turn over 14. The horses sounded tired at this point as it was a course of either going up or down a hill but everyone jumped clean

I was so glad I got another chance to participate and help out. Everyone was so gracious about getting to ride and compete someone else’s horse and they all seemed to have a good time.

While jump 14 looked big and intimidating to me, not a single horse backed off. After this they had a very long uphill Gallop to the final fence at 15
I could also see jump 12 which seemed like an inviting enough jump. It came after a long downhill run and then cut sharp left uphill to my two
Such a gorgeous day.
Coming up the bank in the shade.
The view I had of riders leaving the water at jump 9

The rest of the week will be jammed with fun, local activities for the riders including a trip to an amusement park, kayaking and zip lining on the Green River, Tryon Horse Country tour, and a fun night at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (home of the AECs last year and WEG in 2018) until their last weekend which will host the Kangaroo Cup, a 3′ jumper show. I am hoping to make it to the jumper show as well and hope they all have a great week.


2017 Pony Club InterPacific Exchange

Sometimes you just get really lucky in life. I’m still grinning from Friday and know that my chance of ever getting to do something like this again in my life is slim to none.

Every two years Pony Clubs around the world put together a team of elite young riders to travel to a host country and compete. There are five countries involved: US, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand. The host country rotates so that each one hosts every 10 years.

Not only is 2017 an InterPacific year, but it is a year for the US to host. To make the stars align even more, Trainer, who has been the US team coach the last four competitions, stepped aside as coach this year and instead got wrangled into the position of organizer. This means that not only is the US hosting, but it is being hosted at the barn I train at.

Told you this would never align again like this.

The thing about the IPE is that the host country needs to provide the horses for the entire event which lasts nearly two weeks. This year the riders landed in SC on the 28th and the first riding event was a fun games day and trail ride on Friday the 30th. Apparently the riders from Hong Kong had zero access to any riding outside an arena, so getting them out on trail was a big priority for Trainer.

Once the schedule was set, poor Trainer had the stressful job of gathering up over 30 horses for the day. When she asked if Gem could be used I jumped on the opportunity. Words fail me to express how amazing I think this entire thing is. Getting young riders out into the world, seeing how things go in other cultures, making new friends, and riding local horses? I’m jealous I never knew this even existed when I was young enough to participate.

I closed my office on Friday and blocked my  surgery schedule. I think I was more excited to do this than any event where I rode my horse! Gem and I pulled into the barn around 745am and I got her settled into a stall for the morning. The forecast was ugly. A major storm was supposed to crash down on us at any moment, but the excitement of all the riders made it feel like the sun was shining all morning.

Gem being a great traveler as always. What do you do when dropped into a new situation with no clue what will be expected of you? Eat of course!

The riders got to choose what horse they wanted for the day. I know Gem looks a little plain next to all the fancy paint horses and tall, lean TBs so I worried nobody would really want her. A lovely girl from Australia stopped by and asked if she could ride her. I was so happy she wasn’t the last one picked in gym class!

Go Team Australia! Gem’s head looks very Arabian in this picture
Getting to know each other. As an aside, Gem looks fantastic in her new black pad. I am becoming more plain as the days go by. 

I tacked her up in her jump gear and told the young rider, who was B rated in Pony Club which basically means she rides better than I likely ever will, that she could do anything she liked. There was nothing she could do to Gem to break her that I haven’t already tried.

The rain started coming down right as everyone wandered to the arena for the games, but since it is winter back at their home a warm summer rain wasn’t going to spoil their fun.

Super glad for my Kerits long riding rain coat

The first game was pole bending and I got to watch the practice run. The girl started trotting but soon got Gem flying at the canter and Gem was game on. She was even doing flying lead changes between the poles! Trainer laughed saying maybe I was persuing the wrong discipline with her.

Unfortunately, I missed the actual competitive round as I got wrangled to be interviewed by the local news station as an owner. I have zero intention of watching that horror show on TV. I’m just hoping they worked some magical editing skills to make me not look like a complete moron. Apparently though Gem did amazing. Trainer laughed again saying that this is the perfect example of a task based activity and how well Gem does when she gets the point. Sigh. Maybe I need to buy some blingy shirts and cowboy boots?

Charlie the Belgian was a big hit. It was hilarious watching him do the games and his poor rider could barely reach the flags and cups. It was hilarious and by the end everyone was in love with him
What’s more American than a paint mule?

After that they played with a flag race, some cup stuff and spent about an hour and a half just having fun. Gem did amazing. I can’t stress enough how proud I am of her. Even in the torrential downpour, she stood quietly waiting her turn and was game on when asked. Trainer even mentioned how competitive she is and it is true. Gem hates conditioning/training but adores competition.

All the horses did so well. Most of these were either pasture puffs or event horses so having them all do gymkhana games was great. 

When all the games were finished, they took a short break and talked about the poker ride that was up next. I’m sure most people know what that is, but basically you go on trail and pick up cards along the way to make a poker hand. The team with the best hand wins.

They asked if I’d mind standing in the rain forest to hand out a card and so I missed most of the action. I did get to see Gem as she rode by me and the girl had a huge smile on her face. She was gushing about how awesome Gem had been for her and said her friends were jealous! Made my heart melt to hear.

Trainer lent me her car to wait in until the riders started coming by. It was pouring the entire time and I was a little sad to leave it to go stand in the woods

After that it was time to untack and eat lunch. My rider gave me a special pin from her home Pony Club as a thank you. She told me that she had never ridden a horse who could trot so fast. In the games she would ask for more speed and Gem would just up her trotting. She did get her to canter a lot too, but she said her trot was so fast she didn’t need to canter. On trail, she could tell Gem wanted to trot and not walk so she let her. She apparently even took her over a down bank and a small roll top! She said Gem was hesitant but once she put her leg on and told her she really did want her to go, she popped over no issue. Sounds about right.


All too soon lunch was over and it was time to load up and go home. I wished her luck the rest of the week. This weekend is the first real competition with a CT that’s set up for BN with dressage then cross country and then next weekend is a 3′ jumper show for them. I was asked to jump judge on Sunday so I told her I’d be rooting for her.

The ground was dry when I pulled in at 745 am. This was at 12 pm when I was leaving. Lots of rain!

I felt really lucky to be involved in this. Every rider was thankful and excited to be there and learn all they could about riding in the US. Maybe some day Wyatt will get into it and be on the team.

The pin she gave me.