Congratulations to Lake county teens, Megan All from Sorrento and twins Jean & Jane Thomas from Eustis. They are all members of Wekiva Basin Pony Club based in Lake County. All three girls competed in the United States Pony Clubs, Inc. (USPC) Championships this past summer in Lexington, VA, in the Mounted Games competition. They, with their two team mates from Tuscawilla Pony Club near Gainesville, earned 1st place in the Games Horse Management competition and 3rd in the Games riding competition. The impressive finish for the Sunshine Region Pony Club members earned them an invitation to travel to the prestigious Prince Philip Cup competition, held in Lexington, KY during the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** at the Kentucky Horse Park in April, 2014.
Mounted games were first introduced at the 1957 Horse of the Year show in the UK as an enduring challenge trophy, and the trophy has been an integral part of this world-famous equestrian event ever since. Young riders from across the country give their all, racing against rival teams to win the historic Prince Philip Cup – the cup donated by Prince Philip himself. At Prince Philip’s own request, the competition was designed for “ordinary children on ordinary ponies” and that objective has remained to the present day. Prince Philip later donated a second cup to America to encourage mounted games here. The American cup was first contested at the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden, NYC, where it resided for many years. When the National Horse Show moved to NJ, the Prince Philip Cup moved to the Washington National, then to the Essex Horse Trials in NJ for two years, and finally to the only Olympic level three-day event in the USA, Rolex, Kentucky CCI****.
Mounted games is a very active sport. It requires running and vaulting onto ponies at a gallop or putting a flag in a cone at high speed. It takes eye-hand coordination, good riding skills, and bravery. A Games team is made up of four or five players, four of which play in each game. The players may switch ponies, order of go and use playing strategies to out-ride the teams they play against. Games requires brain power as well as athletic skills. The riders say the most important thing about the sport is the teamwork and friendship. The team will be practicing for many months before heading with their mounts and families to Kentucky. There they will compete against the other three top placing teams from USPC’s National Championships this year.
The Lemonheads were coached by Pam Johnson of Old Pear Tree Farm in Ocala. Pam ran the Amwell Valley Hounds Pony Club Horse Trials in NJ for sixteen years as the fundraiser for her daughter’s Pony Club before ‘retiring’ to Florida. She also coached Amwell’s Games teams for 8 years, taking many teams to USPC Championships. Allison Thomas, the Sunshine Region Supervisor and mother of Jean and Jane, learned about Pam’s experience with Games and coaxed her out of retirement to help the Lemonheads and any other Pony Club members in Florida interested in giving the sport a try.