The Canadian Pony Club held its first ever "face-to-face" national dressage championships at Saddlewood Equestrian Centre near Bethany, Ontario, October 12-14, hosted by Central Ontario. Until this year, Pony Club members from across Can-ada have submitted tests from various shows, with the highest test scores winning the championships in each division. The obvious problem was that some judges are more liberal than others, so that it sometimes became a case of comparing apples vs. oranges (or possibly apples vs. crab-apples).
At the Pony Club level, it is not practical to ship horses and ponies across the country, so the competitors rode mounts borrowed for the occasion. Some of the Central Ontario competitors loaned their own horses, but of course were not allowed to ride them. Friday, October 12, was horse try-out day. This was followed by two days of competition.
On Saturday, the competitors rode two technical tests for their divisions, using a different horse for each test. They also sat a written exam (this is Pony Club, after all). On Sunday, they rode "mystery tests." That is, the competitors did not know what test they were going to have to ride, and had to work exclusively with the caller, National Dressage Chair Kasia Miedzinska. The only "clue" they got was that Ms. Miedzinska told them what gait they were to use when entering the ring (okay, entering at A was a gimme). Each rider used a different test.
Each of these tests and exams counted for part of the total score, with two points being reserved for turn-out. There were also "technical" awards, based on the Saturday tests.
Central Ontario competitors did quite well (note that, as host Region, Central Ontario was allowed three competitors in each division, while each of the other regions was allowed only one). On an overall basis, Alycia McCracken of Simcoe was Starter Champion and Janene Howran of Kawartha placed third in this division. At the Pre-Training level, the Champion was Justine Blocksdorf of Rising Star, with Hilary Howran of Kawartha the Reserve. Jennifer McKeen of Oshawa, D'Arcy Hutcheson of Centaurus and Carolyn Russell-Poliquin of Oshawa placed third, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Training Division. Madison Wilks of Durham was third in the First Level competition, and Johanna McKeen of Oshawa was the Second Level Champion. Alycia McCracken was also the Starter Technical Champion; Justine Blocksdorf was Technical Reserve in Pre-Training; D'Arcy Hutcheson was Technical Reserve in Training; Madison Wilks was Technical Champion in First Level and Johanna McKeen was Technical Champion in Second Level.
Digital photos of this competition are being posted (so far, about 50 per rider!) at http://www.foxprints.ca/NationalDressage.htm.
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).