NZ Mounted Games Association Inc - Development Team tour to Canada & USA - July 2002

by Doug Hunt


The NZ Mounted Games team in Canada, holding a NZ flag that has been signed by Canadian and American riders that they have met during the tour. From the left the riders are: Catherine Hunt, Melissa Fogarty, Melissa Cox, David Collett and Michelle Sefton.

The NZMGA 2002 development tour got off to a hot start when the team went from a cold, wet NZ winter to a Canadian summer heat-wave with daily temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius. The team arrived in Toronto at 5:00pm on Monday the 1st July after a 28-hour series of flights from Auckland that routed them via Sydney and Honolulu.

A series of very impressive fireworks displays greeted the team on the one-hour drive from the airport to their billets in Western Ontario. On enquiring about the fireworks their hosts advised the NZ team that they were celebrating Canada Day, a national holiday.

For the next three days the team trained in the evenings to escape the intense heat, with Canadian Mounted Games Association President and Head Coach, Jim Dunn. Jim, who is widely recognised as being one of the top Mounted Games coaches in the world and who successfully coached the Canadian national team to their world championship win last season, quickly had the Kiwi team sorted and identified their strengths and areas that needed development.

Initial training took place un-mounted and concentrated on teaching the Kiwis the International Mounted Games Association rules and basic techniques such as hand-overs. On the second day of training the Kiwis were introduced to a wide variety of ponies and started learning basic riding skills such as standing and running vaults. During the heat of the day the Kiwis escaped the heat by relaxing in the pool of one of the host families or went shopping in the air-conditioned malls.

The team is being hosted in an area called Guelph that sits close to the border of two different Canadian Pony Club Association regions, Central Ontario Region and Western Ontario Region. While the Kiwi team is a NZ Mounted Games Association team and the tour is being arranged and hosted by Canadian Mounted Games association families, there are many cross-ties via dual membership in Canada (as in NZ) between Mounted Games riders and Pony Club riders. As a result, both the Central and Western Ontario Regions of the Canadian Pony Clubs Association very graciously invited the Kiwi team to take part in their separate Regional Prince Philip (Mounted) Games finals that were being held on Saturday the 6th and Sunday the 7th of July.

Fortunately, on Saturday the 6th of July the temperature had dropped to a slightly more bearable 30 degrees Celsius for the first competition, the Western Ontario PPG finals. The Kiwi team competed in the Masters grade (most skilled, riders aged 15 and over) against five other Masters teams that had won their way into the finals. The Kiwi team was the only team to ride on borrowed ponies. The Kiwis performed with honour and while they were placed sixth overall this was partly due to their unfamiliarity with the rules, they were eliminated in three games. They were placed third in three other games and this was very pleasing considering that the standard of the other competitors was very high and included, for example, Shawn Dunn riding for the Grand River team, a current Canadian International representative and member of the world championship CMGA team. Full results of the Masters Grade for this competition are listed below, courtesy of the Canadian Pony Clubs Association web site.

Western Ontario Region - Canadian Pony Clubs Association
Regional Prince Philip (Mounted) Games Championships
Masters Division

Masters

Baton

5
Mug

Stepping
Stones

Litter

Old
Sock

Cana-
dian

Post-

Sword

2
Flag

Hi
Lo

Bal-

Total

Place

Grand River

7

7

7

7

7

6

7

4

7

7

6

72

1

Guelph/Mill Ridge
High County
Niagara

4

6

4

5

5

5

6

7

6

4

3

55

2

Huron, Bruce
Esquesing

3

5

6

6

6

7

2

1

3

6

7

52

3

London/Albion

6

2

5

4

2

4

4

6

5

3

2

43

4

High County

5

4

3

1

3

3

3

5

4

2

4

37

5

New Zealand

2

3

1

3

4

1

5

1

2

5

5

32

6

Points: 1st=7; 2nd=6; 3rd=5; 4th=4; 5th=3; 6th=2; Eliminated=1

On Sunday the 7th July the Kiwi team attended the Central Ontario Region Prince Philip Games finals. Unfortunately, the detailed results for this competition have not yet been published, however, the Kiwi team, competing in the Masters Grade again, improved on their performance from the day before coming second in two games and third in three. They were the only team to compete on borrowed ponies against some classy opposition. The winners of this event, the Uxbridge-Scugog "Cowboys" went on to win the Canadian Pony Clubs Central Zone championships involving the best teams from the Central Canadian provinces.

The organisers of this event said that they were impressed with the performance and sportsmanship of the Kiwi team and that all the competitors were glad that the Kiwi team had been able to compete with them.

Monday the 8th July saw an early start for the team. They drove for eleven hours through a spectacular heat storm involving some very impressive lightning, down and across the border to Chicago, USA. In Chicago they attended a four-day training clinic hosted at the Wayne-DuPage Hunt Pony Club. All team members commented on the huge, indoor, air-conditioned arena and stable complex.

The clinic not only covered Mounted Games with Jon Straub, a member of the USA Mounted Games Association international team, but also the Olympic disciplines of Vaulting, Show jumping and Dressage and included a "mock" fox-hunt on the famous Wayne-DuPage cross-country course. Following the clinic the team took part in a "Ribbon Day" type competition that included Flat work, Show jumping and Games, winning some individual ribbons in the process.

The team attended and helped out with the annual Wayne-DuPage Horse Trial that took place on the weekend after the clinic had finished.

The third week of the tour was somewhat more relaxed with the team taking time out to see some of the local attractions, including America's largest water park. They also had an opportunity to go water skiing on the lake, swimming and hacking through forest trails in regional parks around the greater Chicago area. As in Canada, the American hosts were incredibly hospitable and generous with the team being billeted in some extraordinary homes of almost palatial style.

On Sunday the 21st July, the team undertook the 11-hour drive back to Guelph, Canada and after less than four hours sleep, flew for five hours, across to Edmonton, Alberta on Monday morning. Tuesday through Thursday the team was the guests of the Red Deer Pony Club for their annual "Rally" camp involving instruction in stable management and the three disciplines of Dressage, Show jumping and Cross-country; followed by an ODE on the last day.

Saturday the 27th and Sunday the 28th July were spent at a Mounted Games clinic and mini-competition. Monday the 29th the team took a drive across to Banff and Jasper in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Tuesday was a free day for shopping at the world's largest in-door shopping mall, the West Edmonton Mall. The mall includes within it an ice-skating rink, an amusement park, a water park, numerous movie theatres, a hotel, a dolphin show, a dinner theatre, and zillions of stores. On Tuesday night they flew back to Guelph for a change over with the chaperones.

The team are currently in the Ottawa area and this weekend is competing in the Canadian Mounted Games Association National Pairs championship at Pot O' Gold. This is a two-day competition. As of Saturday night Canadian time, team members were coming fourth and sixth overall. Full results will be on the NZ Mounted Games web site, http://geocities.com/nzmga/ once they come to hand.

For further information, please contact Doug Hunt, President, NZ Mounted Games Association. E-mail: dph@doug-hunt.com, Ph: (21) 322 551 or fax: (9) 415 4958.