Archive - January 2004

South Africans win PC challenge
International flavour to PC dressage champs
Beat the bulge by riding

South Africans win PC challenge -- (Jan 19) The first international pony clubs team dressage challenge resulted in a win for South Africa at the National Equestrian Centre, Taupo, on Sunday, with individual honours going to the USA and Britain. All the riders were on horses loaned by team members from Saturday's national teams event, with just 30 minutes to get to know their mounts before their two tests.

Lauren Hudson, 17, and Michelle Ross, 14, are both members of the Rand Hunt Club and both have impressive competition records in their own country. There is an element of luck in the draw for horses and Ross was delighted with her pair, the Medium level Noble Bijou II which belongs to Amelia French from Christchurch, and Parone, usually ridden by Simon Gordon, Auckland. She finished fourth junior overall, while Michelle Ross was second-placed senior with good rides on Patricia Miller's Bachelor (Cambridge) and Tracy Smith's O'Neill Himself, saying that she felt she had had the luck of the draw with two "great" horses.

The leading junior rider was Welsh pony clubber Rachel Thomas, 15, adding to the success she had at the previous weekend's young rider championships in Auckland and confirming her ability to get a good tune from an unfamiliar horse. Thomas, who lives near Cardigan in West Wales, is primarily a horse trials rider who has twice been long-listed for the British team for the European pony eventing championships. Her two rides were Stevee Mohi's Dee Dee Bee from Taupo, and Lydia Mitchell's Autumn Star, from Hawkes Bay. Thomas said they hadn't been the easiest of rides, Dee Dee Bee getting very tense just before the test and Autumn Star having a "very long canter", but she had been very pleased with them both.

Michelle Blair from the USA was the top scoring senior, ten points clear of Hudson in second place, getting a great tune from Kimberley Lemon's Nicky Fox from Rotorua and Hanna Smithies' Shah de Shah from Waitemata-Rodney area. The individual wins were compensation for the Americans and British not being eligible for the teams event, which was for a senior and a junior rider in each. The Americans were both seniors, the British both juniors.

New Zealand's pairing of Stephanie Tovey and Brigette Learmonth, top scoring members of the winning Waitemata-Rodney team in Saturday's national championship, finished second in the international derby. Tovey rode Global owned by Chanelle Davey, Keri Keri, and Diana Homersham's Mr Zanzibar from Taumarunui, while Learmonth, overall second junior, piloted Southwinds Summer Magic (Christina Jenkins, Central Otago) and The Ace Man (Nick Brooks, Cambridge).

The all-girl team from Waitemata-Rodney Area lifted its fourth consecutive NZPCA national teams dressage title on Saturday, scoring a total of 1609 points to have a clear lead from Franklin-Thames Valley on 1487 and demonstrating the strength of the sport in the greater Auckland area at present, with several of the contestants featuring in the previous weekend's national young rider title event.

Individually, the Waitemata-Rodney team won both the individual prizes, with Brigette Learmonth (Kumeu) on her eight-year-old dark brown gelding Lord Lagerfeld scoring 424 (75.71%) for a very accomplished test to be the top junior, with Anya Tovey (Kumeu) on the Australian import AEA Flemmington on 395 (70.54%) third. Portia Wilson (Drury) a member of the Franklin-Thames Valley team was second individual junior on Cheleken Ren, scoring 405 (72.32%).

The older Tovey sister, Stephanie, was the leading senior for the third year in a row on her dark brown warmblood Dominik T, on a score of 400 (71.43%), followed in second place by team-mate Ashleigh Williams (Kumeu) on the grey stationbred Banderos with 390 (69.64%), at her first pony club teams championship and following her near clean-sweep at the previous weekend's young rider tournament. Katie Mortimer on Master Charmer, eighth individual junior, and Linda Pease (Jackamo), completed the team.

This was the first time that the championships had gathered teams from throughout the country at one venue - in past years two judges have travelled throughout the country to judge regional finals, and 14 teams from Northland to Southland contested the titles.

Results: NZ Pony Clubs Association National Dressage Championships, and International Team Derby, National Equestrian Centre, Taupo:

Teams: Waitemata-Rodney (B. Learmonth, Lord Lagerfeld; L Pease, Jackamo; A Tovey, AEA Flemmington; A Williams, Banderos; K Mortimer, Master Charmer; S Tovey, Dominik T) 1609, 1; Franklin-Thames Valley (S Andersonk, Linden Shining Bright; G Withers, Tai Winds; P. Wilson, Cheleken Ren; S McKendry, Light Hearted; T. Nairn, My Man Oscar; N Barrett, No Fixed Abode) 1487 2; Waikato (K. Van Dyk, Cimarron Park Magnum; N Brooks, The Aceman; J Van der Heyden, Cranford Cottage Squire; E Clarke, The Winter Hawke; P Miller, Bachelor; T. Smith, O'Neill Himself) 1483 3; Canterbury (A Stevens, The Sundance Kid; A French, Noble Bijou; A Fauth, Dr Murdoch; J Foster, Imperial Blue; J Brizzell, Snap Time; H. Ellerm, Champagne Glory) 1479 4; Ashburton-North Otago-South Canterbury (L. Niles, Just Alfie; S Anderson, Kolorkode; N Batchelor, Bunratty Court Jester; A White, Westwood By George; E Sinclair, Innes Dream; S Hobson, Lincoln James) 1479 5; Hawkes Bay 1437 6; Auckland 1427 7; Manawatu-West Coast 1414 8; Northland 1407 9; Taranaki 1399 10. Individual: Senior: S Tovey, (Waitemata-Rodney) Dominik T 71.43% 1; A Williams (Waitemata-Rodney) 69.54 % 2; P. Miller (Waikato) Bachelor 68.75 3; A Williams (Hawkes Bay) Thomas 68.39% 4; H Ellerm (Canterbury) Champagne Glory 67.68 5. Junior: B. Learmonth (Waitemata-Rodney) Lord Lagerfeld 75.71% 1; P Wilson (Franklin-Thames Valley) Cheleken Ren 72.32% 2; A Tovey (Waitemata-Rodney) AEA Flemmington 70.54% 3; A Leslie (Auckland) Prancing Polly 68.39% 4; L. Marshall (Bay of Plenty) Clifton Isle of May 67.50% 5.

International Challenge: Teams - South Africa (L Hudson, M Ross) 1359 1; New Zealand (S Tovey, B Learmonth) 1332 2; Ireland (D Crowdle, C O'Gorman) 1323 3. Individual: Senior - M Blair (USA) 697 1; L Hudson (SA) 687 2; C O'Gorman (IRE) 663 3. Junior - R Thomas (GBR) 692 1; B Learmonth (NZL) 687 2; J Boscoe (GBR) 679 3.

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International flavour to PC dressage champs -- (Jan 6) Teams from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, South Africa and the USA will compete in the 2004 NZ Pony Clubs dressage championships at the National Equestrian Centre, Taupo, from January 16-18.

As well as being the first full international contest for New Zealand pony clubbers, it is also the first time that the championships have been held at one venue. In previous years two judges travelled to three zone finals in the North Island and one in the South Island. In 2000, to celebrate the Millennium, the three North Island zones were brought together in Taupo. The success of that event prompted the concept of a truly national championship in 2004, in which 14 area teams will compete.

The project became international when New Zealand delegates to the first Pony Club World Conference in Canada in 2000, discussed it with representatives from other countries, who were excited at the prospect of being involved.

The feature event of Saturday 16th is the area teams championship, while the focus on the Sunday will be the international derby, for which a team will comprise a junior and a senior rider from the eight competing countries. Each will ride twice on a different horse, having had 30 minutes to get to know it prior to each test. The international riders will have the opportunity to compete individually throughout the weekend in a range of classes, but not on their derby horses.

That makes organisation of the event problematic because of trying to borrow enough horses to go around not only the riders in the derby, but for the 14 overseas visitors to compete in the other classes, and it depends entirely on the generosity of other pony clubbers as well as dressage riders who are prepared to loan their precious mounts to strangers, however competent!

New Zealand's team is Stephanie Tovey, 18, and Brigette Learmonth, 14, both of of whom were in the winning Waitemata-Rodney team last year. Both are from Kumeu. Learmonth finished fifth at the FEI-PSI World Challenge final in Germany last year, after winning the New Zealand qualifier. Last November, the Westlake Girls' College student had her second successive win in the local leg of the world challenge on Lord Lagerfeld, and is thus eligible to have another crack at the final this year.

Tovey is a student at Auckland University and has been in the winning national dressage team three times. Both girls ride successfully in open competition. Senior reserve for New Zealand is Harriet Ellerm of Christchurch PC, and the junior reserve is Stephanie's younger sister Anya.

Most of the riders from the visiting nations have competed at a high level in pony club and open competitions and it is an indication of the value placed by their organisations on the opportunity that the USA is sending a former Olympic representative and leading trainer as manager of their team. Lendon Gray has a long list of national and international titles to her credit since she started winning as a pony club rider. In dressage she has won more national championships than any other US rider, all on self-trained horses, was in the US Olympic dressage team in 1980 and 1988, a member of the 1978 world championships team and in 1991 was the US representative at the Dressage World Cup.

In addition, Gray is one of the most respected coaches in North America, has taught in Australia and Uruguay and has held numerous positions with the US Dressage Federation. Her sister lives in the Waikato.

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Beat the bulge by riding -- (Jan 7) The British Horse Society is urging children and adults alike to take up horse riding in support of the Government's anti-obesity drive announced this week. The Government has launched a 2 million drive to tackle the problem of obesity in children in England claiming that one in twelve children are obese by the age of six. It is planned to crack down on the availability of fatty foods in school tuck shops and vending machines as well as running nutrition education programmes.

"Healthy exercise is just as important as a balanced diet", says BHS chief executive Kay Driver. "The BHS fully supports the Government in its bid to end the frightening number of obesity cases, particularly obesity in young children, by cracking down on unhealthy foods available in schools, but diet is only part of the problem. Along with a well balanced diet, good health can be encouraged with regular exercise. For many, this conjures up images of sweating it out in the gym and while this may work well for some, what could be better than a New Year's resolution to take up riding?"

About 2.4 million people ride in the UK, with half doing so at least once a week, and some 26,500,000 riding lessons taking place each year**. There are over 850 BHS approved equestrian establishments, the majority being riding schools where instruction is provided by BHS qualified staff, giving customers confidence in the standard of teaching and welfare of the horses and ponies used.

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