Pony Club members Amanda Silver, Alexa Elhers, Ann Bellinger and Reesie McGuigan have embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. They have currently arrived in Australia and are preparing to represent the United States Pony Club at the Pony Club Inter-Pacific Exchange competition. They have been sharing their adventure with HJU.
The U.S. places 3rd in the Nations Cup!
Hello Horse Junkies! Thank you so much for keeping up with our Pony Club Inter Pacific Exchange Team the past few weeks on our Australian adventure. We have all returned to the states, but bring with us souvenirs (obviously we had to pack some vegemite!), pictures, and amazing memories.
The final day of our adventure was the long anticipated Nations Cup competition. Each country (America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong) was given 5 horses to choose from, and 1 hour to figure out which rider worked best with what horse. As “A” and “HA” level Pony Clubbers, and dedicated eventers, we all have a lot of competition experience with many types of horses. But it’s not that often that you only have 1 hour to get to know your mount! We came up with a strategy with our team coach Janna Ritacco, and were quite confident about our final pairings.
We arrived at Vakarra Park on the morning of the Nations Cup, prepared with braiding threads and soap, with only a few hours to get our horses show ready. We walked the course as a team, and once individually before the opening ceremonies. It felt like a huge honor to carry the American flag and stand side-by-side with the other countries.
Our team looked sharp with our fancy Ecogold saddle pads (thank you Patricia!), and our matching Ariat coats and IRH helmets. Reesie was riding a chestnut mare named “Flair,” and was the first of our team to compete. Her course was smooth and elegant, and she managed to keep all the rails in their cups.
Next, Ann entered the ring with her 7-year-old grey gelding named “Echo.” We were told that the horse was a notorious stopper, but Ann handled him beautifully. He demonstrated his greenness at the second combination, leaving Ann with an unlucky fall.
Amanda was next to ride on a quick and quirky bay gelding named “Tommy.” He decided that he was too excited to walk into the ring, so they made an entrance by cantering up to the in-gate while trying not to run anyone over. Despite the excitement, they put in a solid clear round with no faults to add to our score.
Alexa was last to ride on a big grey mare named “Rosie.” The mare seemed to really improve from Alexa’s skillful ride. She piloted Rosie around to end with 8 faults, leaving the U.S. tied for second place!
The second round was the same course as the first, and had a very similar result. We ended the competition with a total of 16 faults—in 3rd place! With one less rail we would have been part of the jump off to determine the winner, but we all put in great rides and were thrilled with the experience.
We couldn’t believe it was time to go home! 2 and a half weeks went by in the blink of an eye. It was an unforgettable experience, during which we rode great horses, visited amazing places, and made new friends. We would like to thank Pony Club Australia and Carol Paterson for organizing an unbelievable trip, Janna Ritacco and Amber Henderson for being the best coach and team manager that we could have asked for, and all our friends, family, and supporters for encouraging us along the way. We have loved sharing our experience with you all, and we wish the best to the next U.S. IPE team, who will compete in Canada in 2 years!!
Below is a video we put together of our trip. We hope you enjoy it!
2013 United States Pony Club Inter Pacific Exchange Team
Thank you so much for your support!
Amanda, Ann, Alexa and Reesie