A team of Eastern Southland Pony Club riders will compete against 42 other teams at the Springston Trophy event this weekend.
The Eastern Southland Pony Club has three branches: Gore, Tapanui and Mataura.
Club helper Philippa Eaves said the club was lucky to have a team of five heading to the event, which would be held in Oamaru.
“Springston Trophy is a three-day event, so they compete in dressage on the Friday, cross-country on the Saturday and showjumping on the Sunday,” Mrs Eaves said.
“Normally we would have two senior riders (aged under 24, but over 17), two intermediate (under 17, but over 14) and two juniors (under 14).”
Mrs Eaves said one of the senior riders had to pull out due to her pony breaking down, but the team was lucky to have a draft rider from Halswell Pony Club join them.
“One of our intermediates has also had to replace her horse, but she was just very lucky that she had another pony in the paddock that was qualified, so she’s had to jump on a replacement mount.”
Mrs Eaves said the juniors competed at jump heights of 85cm, intermediate competed at 95cm and seniors competed at 1.5m.
“Travel does dictate a little bit how often we send teams and the availability of qualified riders, because it’s actually a big ask, especially for the juniors, the under-14s, to be going around an 85cm cross-country course. That’s not for the faint-hearted.”
It would be the second time in two years the club had attended the Springston Trophy competition.
Mrs Eaves said where it was held could impact whether the club would attend.
“Last year it was fine, it was only at Rakaia.”
She said if the team finished with live scores at the event they would be happy.
“If everyone comes home with a score, it doesn’t matter if it’s got a million penalties as long as they finish.”
Mrs Eaves said the event was a big commitment and for families it often meant taking a week off work.
She said the riders were excited and had training on Sunday in Invercargill with well-known rider Donna Smith.
“That was kindly organised by the team coach, Bernie Hewitson. The kids all had a ball and are really looking forward to it.”
“We’ve got a lot of talented kids down here and a lot of kids coming through that can look at next year, or the year after.”
Mrs Eaves said the group was at a slight disadvantage due to its eventing season finishing when Canterbury’s season started.
“So Canterbury can compete all through the winter, whereas most of us go ‘oh my gosh, it’s cold and muddy and we just want to put our horses out in the paddock’, so it is a lot of dedication for these riders to want to continue to work ponies all through the winter.”
She said the group had completed fundraising, such as selling toilet paper and biscuits, and businesses had donated products for an online auction to help with event costs.
“We had a lot of support from heaps of amazing businesses in Gore. The major supporters were the Pakeke Lions, Equine and Comfy Cow Matting in Tapanui, Whyte Engineering Ltd in Tapanui, and Star McDougal – he gave us amazing covers for our horses.”