Pony Club Dressage Nationals
 By Winniefield Park   •   6th Nov 2014   •   3,107 views   •   0 comments
Pony Club Dressage Nationals

I loved being a Pony Club mom. I am still, in a way, as my daughter was delighted to find out that Pony Club has increased the age limit to 25 and she still has a year to go. The club she belongs too is new and having someone with experience has been useful. Sheís been busy on the executive, and I think theyíve been glad to have her along. Iím sorry that sheís 3 hours away, and it hasnít been easy to get out to their events. My favorite memory of when she was a younger Pony Clubber is attending the National Dressage Finals with her.

Having come from a distance riding background, Iím used to roughing it. Iíve slept in tents, the back seats of trucks and the gooseneck of a stock trailer. Iíve eaten food that has sat in a luke-cool cooler for three days. And when youíre hungry, eating a partially soggy stale bagel with crumbly cream cheese isnít really that bad. When I learned at this event that there were to be indoor accommodations, flushing toilets and showers, and they were serving real food, I was excited about the luxury.

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The competition was held at a stable that hosted summer camps. We stayed in a two story cabin filled with bunk beds. All the moms got the bottom bunks of course. The first evening we spent getting settled and getting the horses ready. And there was lots of real food - hot, fresh and served on real plates with real cutlery. Someone else even washed the dishes.

No one rode their own horse. Each rider competed on two borrowed horses. My daughter drew a large buckskin pony and a small bay school horse. The bay was hers to groom and she meticulously braided 38 tiny braids into his mane. Once that was done, it was time to socialize. It was fun to meet families from across the country, and learn about their horses. We were lucky that we only had to drive two hours to get there. Others had 3 hour flights before they had to rent a car to get to the competition.

The first two tests the riders had already ridden during the show season. Thatís how they had qualified for the championships. The third test was a surprise. The rider had a caller, and they rode the test impromptu, with no practice. It was very interesting to see how each rider handled the stress. While some riders were better than others, the cooler heads seem to be able to handle the surprise test despite not having the more polished riding skills. There was also a written test. This again was stressful for some of the riders, who got exam anxiety.

At the end of the two days of competition, my daughter won the championship in her division. Dressed in their dressage clothes, they did Ďvictory gallopsí around the yard to ďStand UpĒ by Right Said Fred. It was sad to go home. I heard there were complaints about how things were run, but from my perspective, I wish there was a Pony Club for adults and I didnít just have to watch!
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