Ann Tukey Shideler, RIC for the Northwest Region sent in this fantastic story about the Northwest Regions efforts to get to Championships West. This story was a finalist for the Flash Teamwork Award presented each year to a region, club, center, outstanding person, team, or horse to recognize the teamwork Pony Club values so highly. Read along as Ann shares her story:
According to Dictionary.com teamwork is defined as a ‘cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting as a team on in the interests of a common cause.’ Whenever you take a group of pony club members to Champs it is always a team effort. It takes much coordination and planning to get pony club members, ponies, and equipment to rallies. Parents, kids, and coaches work cooperatively and collaboratively planning, organizing and raising funds to get their pony club members to these wonderful events. This teamwork continues when the parents and kids arrive at Champs to make the event a success for all involved.
This year the Northwest Region sent 22 members to West Coast Champs in Woodside, CA. We had pony club members compete in Quiz, Dressage, Tetrathlon, and Show Jumping. Making the arrangements to get these members to California, of course, was a team effort (this is true for any region getting members to Champs). When unanticipated and unfortunate circumstances befell the team en route, in preparation and in action, the Northwest Region’s team “spirit” shined especially bright!
One of our coaches, Kimberly Barber from Kulshan Ridge Pony Club, was kind enough to haul three of the pony club members and their horses down to California. The trip from the Northwest Region to Woodside, California would normally take about 18 hours of straight driving. Kim’s drive ended up taking almost 2 days due to some unforeseen events. After a late start, her caravan hit every traffic jam possible between Lynden, WA and Ashland, OR making their ‘rest’ night not so restful. Up and on the road the next day there wasn’t much progress before her truck’s transmission went out while on Grant’s Pass. The whole rig was towed into Redding, CA. Here the horses and kids waited in a Ford dealership parking lot in 90 degree heat not knowing how they would get to Champs.
Meanwhile some of their Northwest teammates had already arrived at Woodside. News spread quickly of Kim’s break down. Parents started making phone calls to assess the situation and to try to find some possible solutions to get Kim, the girls and their horses to Champs. Some made the offer to drive the 6 hours back to pick her and the horses up, others asked parents from the California Region if they knew of pony club members or friends in the area who had rigs to bring her the rest of the way. In the end, the Northwest Region helped itself out. We still had one family en route who picked up one horse and rider. Kim’s friend and former Northwest pony club instructor, Stephanie Printy, had recently moved to the Redding area. Without a second thought, Stephanie hooked up her trailer, picked up Kim and the other two horses and drove them to Woodside.
One of the joys of Champs is the exchange of regional pins and getting to know members from other regions. Sadly, upon arrival to Woodside it was soon discovered that there were no pins for the Northwest team members to trade. A couple of our parents, Ann Shideler and Ellen Leckrone, went shopping in hopes of finding inspiration to solve this problem. They found a Michael’s craft store and bought all the DIY pins they could find along with glue, ribbon, stickers and sharpies. With the help of other Northwest parents and members, they created an assembly line of gluers, stickerers, cutters, writers, etc. Even after hours of driving, the group managed to keep their eyes open long enough to create over 120 pins – enough for each Northwest member to have 5 pins to exchange.
When the pins were given to the team members it was explained that these pins were ‘limited edition’ pins, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and they would never be traded at any other championship. The kids LOVED this idea and totally accepted the pins with no complaints. The stickers on the pins were unicorns because we couldn’t find any horse stickers and we explained that this was because Northwest is a special and magical region. This only made the pins more special and the kids were on board with the idea. Even during opening and award ceremonies the teams yelled “Go Unicorns!” in solidarity. The experience of these unique pins fostered a special bond for this Northwest Champs team that will not be soon forgotten.
One of the great things about Tetrathlon is ponies can be shared by up to three teammates. Connor Black has this wonderful pony, Junior Mint, whom he brought to Champs. Another Northwest pony club member, Tanner Kooistra who was on a different TET catch team, was borrowing a local mount. When Tanner arrived, it was quickly evident the horse she was to borrow was not going to work out. Knowing that Tanner was a fellow Northwest teammate (despite being on a different team), Connor kindly offered Junior Mint for her to ride. Tanner quickly fell in love with JM and all was well in the TET arena. However, as Connor was warming up, another member from the Camino Real Region was having trouble with her pony. It was refusing to jump. Her parents approached Connor and asked if he would be willing to share his pony since it was a similar size to the one their daughter rode (and was obviously fabulous!). Connor did not hesitate and lent his pony out once again. All told, Junior Mint went on to jump six clean jumper rounds! Our team spirit not only supported our region’s members but pony club members everywhere.
I believe the Northwest Region went above and beyond the normal teamwork that it takes to get members to Champs. It was a huge collaborative effort of parents, pony club members, ponies, coaches, and friends to make the Northwest team a success at Champs. They even worked to help members from other regions be successful! I am proud to be part of the Northwest Region and the team spirit we possess. Go Unicorns!!!