The 2009 Central Ontario Pony Club Region Prince Philip Games season kicks off this Sunday, May 24, with a meet at Royal Lane Farm, between Highway 12 and Lindsay north of Highway 7. A total of 78 riders, representing ten Branches, will take part.
"PPG" is a team competition played by Pony Clubs around the world. All of the games are variations on the relay race. Many of the games require the riders and ponies to run a slalom course from one end of the playing field to the other, where they hand off something to the next rider on their team - an egg on a spoon is one of the tougher ones, and some players can carry it while riding at top speed. In some races, the riders have to vault off of and onto their ponies. In one, for example, the riders must dash towards the halfway line of the field, dismount, jump into a sack and hop for the finish line, leading their ponies. Prince Philip Games are among the most photogenic of all equestrian competitions, great fun for players and spectators alike.
There are four levels of competition: C for beginners, B for more experienced players, and A for the top riders. Riders must be under the age of 15 as of January 1st to play at these three levels. The fourth level is Masters, for those 15 and over. C riders do not canter or dismount, 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 to keep up (an excellent way to shed weight).
There are two meets scheduled in the regular Central Ontario season, followed by Regional Finals for all divisions. 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 Canada representatives for the national championship, to be held near Vancouver. There is also a national Masters championship, to be hosted by Central Ontario this year. Both events are in August.
The best A players get to try out for next year's Team Canada, which competes against rivals from all over the world. This year's international championship is in Alberta, in June. 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, rallies (dressage plus cross-country jumping plus stadium jumping, but also marks for stable management and turn-out), 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. Pony Club is celebrating its 75th year in Canada.
Start time is 9:30 a.m. Spectators are welcome free of charge. 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).