28 aspiring young eventers from nine Central Ontario Region Pony Clubs - Ajax, Centaurus, Kawartha, King, Maple, Rising Star, Simcoe, Springwater and Toronto & North York - have entered the Region's D Rally, to be held at Woodwind Farm near Hawkestone on Sunday, July 29
"Rally" is the Pony Club term for eventing, an Olympic discipline in which competitors must ride a formal dressage test, follow with roads and tracks and/or cross country endurance phase across open country and over fixed obstacles, and finish with a stadium jumping competition. Scoring is done on a penalty points basis, with all errors of course, refusals, rails down and falls counted as penalties. Penalties are also incurred for taking too much time, or too little, to finish the cross country phase. The rider with the fewest penalties wins.
Eventing-or three-day eventing at the upper levels-was first developed in the 19th century as a competition for cavalry horses and riders and was once called combined military training. The dressage phase demonstrates the horse's obedience and control, the cross country phase simulates a cavalry charge and the stadium jumping phase demonstrates the horse's long-range stamina and fitness. Though the military aspects of the competition no longer apply, rallies and events are still the ultimate test of both horse and rider. To win at rallies, riders must have first-rate fitness themselves and a wide range of riding skills to handle the different demands of the three phases.
The "D" in D Rally refers to the minimum level riders must have passed in the Pony Club testing system to enter. There are actually three "D" levels: D, D1 and D2. To get each of them, pony club members must pass a written examination in horsemanship, an oral test of stable management, and a riding test. Each level will compete in a different division at D-Rally, with dressage tests, fence heights in both stadium jumping and cross country phases, and the time allowed for cross country adjusted to their skill levels. These are the youngest and least experienced children allowed to compete in this type of contest. For many of the D-level riders, this will be their first taste of cross country competition. Organizers take care to set them challenges within their limits, with safety first the rule as always. Because riding skills do not always equate to testing levels - especially on the cross country phase - there are open divisions at each level so that, for example, an entry who has tested to the D1 level may ride the D course. Upgrading is also permitted if the rider can show convincing qualifications. One major difference between Pony Club rallies and "regular" events is that pony club members compete in horse care/stable management as well as in the riding phases.
Woodwind Farm, a well-known eventing facility, is on Oro Line 10. Competition is expected to start at 8:00 a.m. Spectators are welcome without charge.
For more details e-mail Bob Inglis, Central Ontario Regional Communications Chair, or call him at 416-493-1223 (office) or 416-491-4230 (home).