1998 South African Invitational Show Jumping





South Africa





At the invitation of the Gauteng Region of the South African Pony Club, our Canadian riders competed against 52 other under 21 year old riders from Australia, Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Swaziland, the United States, and Zimbabwe. With a total of 58 competitors, this was be the largest international show jumping competition ever held in South Africa and was held at the Fourways Riding Centre, north of Johannesburg..

Here is the team pictured as they left the Toronto International Airport on March 11, 1998

TeamLeaves.jpg - 32809 Bytes
Left to right - Murray Acton (Chaperone), Wilson Acton (15 year old C2 from Moose Jaw Pony Club), Paige Brenner (16 year old C2 from the Guelph Pony Club), Catherine Yates (16 year old C2 from the Spruce Ridge Pony Club), Heather Forbes (19 year old B2 from the Bluewater Pony Club), Annie Baird (18 year old B2 from the Guelph Pony Club), Lindsay Thompson (17 year old B2 from the London Pony Club), John Baird (Chef d’Equipe)

If you are interested, there are more details available about each of the team members and their backgrounds.

The event covered two days, culminating with a Derby competition on the afternoon of the second day. Over the two competition days, the riders competed in five jumping classes, including the International Derby. The competition was part of a major publicity campaign for the Pony Club in South Africa, and included coverage on national television.

The South African team and a Canadian team made up of Annie Baird, Heather Forbes, Wilson Acton, and Catherine Yates tied for first place in the Derby and the South Africans won out in a jumpoff.

Lindsay Thompson and Paige Brenner were on a team with Emily Kil of the USA and Clinton Hopkins of Australia but did not finish in the ribbons.

In the Derby individual standings, Heather Forbes placed 3rd, Annie Baird 6th, and Wilson Acton 7th.

Although the competition covered 2 days, most of the team took advantage of the opportunity to extend the trip to nearly 3 weeks by touring in South Africa and Holland.

After meeting in Toronto, the team flew to Amsterdam, Holland on March 11 and spent several days touring Holland, including visits to horse shows, a warmblood horse farm, museums, and shops. This was a great opportunity to adapt to the time change before arriving in South Africa.

Late on March 14, they left Holland and were met in Johannesburg about noon on the 15th by Pete Bower, the organizer of the competition, and other members of the Rand Hunt Pony Club who would billet our team for the next 8 days.

Several days were available to select from a pool of horses and for the team to get used to the mounts they chose. During that time, the team had a good chance to relax even though they were fully occupied at various activities planned by their hosts and also had a chance to visit a Lippizaner farm.

Following the competition, Heather Forbes, Wilson Acton, and Murray Acton returned to Canada on the evening of the 23rd while the rest of the team went on to tour the Kruger National Park and the Capetown areas for another week. They arrived back in Toronto on the afternoon of March 30, tired but more than happy for having had this opportunity.

The entire team enjoyed their trip and particularly the hospitality of Mr. Bower and the Rand Hunt Pony Club.

For a bit more of a description of the competition, here is a "wrap-up" report written by Mr. Bower.

Two clear days of warm, early autumn sunshine, 160-odd competitors, enthusiastic parents, helpers, judges, Pony Club supporters and a fly-past by a squadron of vintage Harvard airforce trainer aircraft ... throw that together with a couple of dignitaries from countries as far afield as Canada, South Africa and the USA and what do you get? The biggest, most enjoyable Pony Club horse show ever held in Southern Africa.

The biggest? Certainly in Pony Club history in SA we've never had seven countries represented, with over 50 international riders.

Enjoyable? Ask the organiser - me: Normally you get niggles about judges ... or niggles about the loo's ... or niggles about ... niggles. I can truly say that apart from a couple of complaints from people who would have complained even if there'd been nothing to complain about, we ran a good show. It went according to plan and - for anyone whose organised a show - to time. But before I sound big headed, it was a team effort of many, many hours of work from Pony Club mums, dads, and helpers - not to mention great support from many sponsors.

The classes on Day 1 (Saturday) started after the 0800 hrs scheduled start by about 30 minutes because of a traffic jam getting into the parking area - one large truck decided to go out the same way it came in on a one-lane road and so caused a mile-long jam of horseboxes! Once it had been reversed back down the lane (past a picturesque roadside shebeen (african pub) (to which some of us have been known to repair for solace!) others could arrive and after much pacification of the latecomers we got under way.

The busiest class, and the one I was worried about running over time, was the Welcome Stakes. Accordingly I had instructed the course builder to build to height, and difficulty, aiming to knock out more than 50% in the first round. In the lower classes this wasn't achieved, but we got it right in the higher ones, and so finished just ahead of time.

Concurrently we had four arenas working, the one most enjoyed by the internationals being the JUMPKHANA class - a uniquely South African event which combines small jumps with classic Pony Club games. Many international riders have decided to take this concept back with them and we are going to suggest an Interregional - but why not an international? challenge - named after the designer of the idea, Rosemary Tanner-Tremaine, a real Pony Club stalwart, who ran the class at our show.

We also ran a UTILITY class, thereby proving that Pony Club is not just for competititve showjumpers, but should offer something for everybody.

After the day's competition we enjoyed a spitroast braai - you'd call it a barbecue. In short order four roasted lambs were consumed by the hungry - to the extent that we had to borrow plates from the show venue TWICE! In fact, I (the poor show director) got no dinner and was left - what a hardship - picking meat off the bones of the roast, with only a beer as consolation!

Day two started earlier, and got off not much after the scheduled time. What with the scratchings - the entire Kenyan team decided to scratch in the qualifying class (which they didn't need to ride for points) we made good time and started to relax around 1000 am when we started a pairs cablestitch competition where we paired novice riders with SA internationals - imagine your child's delight at being able to ride as a team member with one of his heroes.... Pony Club in SA has been such a fabulous training ground, with such warm memories for them all, that we had a field of - truly - the best ... Ronnie Lawrence, Barry Taylor, Roger Hessen, Sue v d Merwe, Sandra Dewar ... name them, they were there - in fact we could have fielded a pretty good international adult team to take on all comers ...!

After the Cablestitch, which was as keenly contested by the children as it was by the adults - and was brilliantly announced by Rob McConnochie, himself a horseman of note, we held an International Parade and presentation of SA Colours to our two Derby teams. The presentation was made by Doreen Whittle, our national chair, and Ernst Holst, chairman of the SA National Equestrian Federation.

With 160 horses in the arena, and martial music, spot on time a squadron of vintage SA Air Force Harvard trainers, in their traditional colours, flew low over the showgrounds in the tight V formation which has made SAAF pilots' flying ability the envy of airlines worldwide. Momentarily, as a result, camera lenses and eyes were focussed on the sky.... As for the eyes, not many were dry, at this stage, with many weeping openly at the emotion of the occasion.

But back to the horses, the jumping then began, with the Childrens International Derby, followed by the Junior Derby, the results of which are now known.

And so it's come to an end. The competitors have all gone their separate ways, some home to school, college etc, others to the Kruger Park game reserve and then on to Cape Town. Our lone Australian competitor heads off to Cape Town later this week to take part in an international tentpegging competition, the borrowed horses have been returned to their owners - I took Annie Baird's mount, Chilly Bee, back to its stable today (it's actually for sale, and a very nice horse too - ask Annie).

So now we tot up the money we made or lost, the friends we made or lost, the contacts and objectives achieved or missed and decide whether we should do it again?

Watch this space, and maybe YOU'LL be lucky enough to come to SA for our next international derby.

Team Canada

Wishes to thank the following sponsors for their generosity.

Merial logo
Merial - Makers of Eqvalan

MIRA logo
MIRA Horse Care Products

And also Helmet Helpers, Greenhawk Harness & Equipment, Miller's Harness Inc., Banana Boat, and SSG for their donation of equipment and supplies

Meet the Canadian Team