The Central Ontario Pony Club Region Prince Philip games regular season wraps up this Sunday, July 6, with Regional Finals at Royal Lane Farm, between Highway 12 and Lindsay, north of Highway 7.
There are four levels of competition: C for beginners, B for more experienced riders, and A for the top players (riders must be under the age of 15 as of January 1st to play at these levels), plus competition at the Masters level, for those15 and over. C riders do not canter, and sometimes are accompanied by a leader; if the leader has to take the reins, then the pair must walk the rest of the race; otherwise, the leaders run alongside the ponies, trying (not always successfully) to keep up.
After the first two meets, competition is close in all four divisions. Points accumulate over the full season, so several teams have a chance to win their division. The Regional A level winners go on to play for the Eastern Canadian Championship against teams from the Western Ontario and Saint Lawrence-Ottawa Valley Regions. The two top Eastern Canadian A level teams then play against Western Canadian representatives for the national championship in Western Ontario Region. There is also a National Masters Championship, to be hosted by Alberta North Region this year. Both national championships are scheduled for August 31-September 1. B and C teams compete at the Regional level only.
The Prince Philip Cup games are a team competition played by Pony Clubs around the world. The games are played by teams of five riders and five ponies, four of which take part in each game. All of the games are variations on the relay race, and all are great fun for players and spectators alike. Many of the games require the riders and ponies to run a slalom course around a series of poles from one end of the playing field to the other, where they hand-off something to the next rider on their team; in one race, this is a series of vegetables, which the ponies sometimes try to steal for snacking on. In some races, riders have to vault off of and onto their ponies - in one, for example, the riders must dash towards a line of upturned buckets, dismount, run across the buckets leading their ponies, remount and head for the finish line; if you tip a bucket over you must reset it and start back at the first bucket again.
Prince Philip Games are among the most photogenic and spectator-friendly of all equestrian competitions.
Pony Club is the largest international equestrian organization in the world, with over 120,000 members. As well as Prince Philip Games, it offers competition in show jumping, dressage, a modified form of eventing (dressage plus cross-country jumping plus stadium jumping), tetrathlon - which combines swimming, shooting, running and cross-country jumping - and academic competition in quiz format. Above all the objective is to provide safe fun in riding-related sports.
Start time is 10:00 a.m. C competition goes first, then A, then B, then Masters. Spectators are welcome, with free admission. Royal Lane Farm is at 384 Blackschool Road, east off County Road 46.
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).