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Central Ontario Pony Club Regional D Rally This Sunday

28 aspiring young eventers from eight Central Ontario Region Pony Clubs - Centaurus, Kawartha, King, Maple, Rising Star, Toronto & North York, Victoria and Uxbridge-Scugog - have entered the Region's D Rally, to be held at Foggy River Farm near Mount Albert on Sunday, August 9.

"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. 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.

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. This year, there is also an open division for all C level riders and above, to ride the same courses as D2 competitors.

Foggy River Farm, a well-known eventing facility, is at 18647 Centre Street in East Gwillimbury, south of Mount Albert Road between Highway 48 and the York-Durham Line. Dressage competition is expected to start at 10:00 a.m., after the first round of stable management judging. Spectators are welcome without charge (but please, no dogs).

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).