Shortened format training event proves popular with Central riders

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Heading for home… Abigail White, from Wakatipu Pony Club, flies across country.

Not even wet weather could dampen the spirits of Central Otago equestrians last Saturday, as about 25 riders travelled to Cromwell Racecourse for an “express eventing” training day.

The event was an unofficial, shortened format of a regular one-day event, with riders completing a dressage test before showjumping and cross-country rounds. Three different heights were offered and participants ranged from children on ponies through to adults on horses.

Clyde Pony Club head coach and event organiser Michelle Harrex said the training day offered a chance for riders to prepare for the club’s event in early September.

“A lot of events have been cancelled around North Otago that we would normally go to and some of us would travel up to Canterbury at this time of year, but we’ve not been able to get in because they’ve been full.

“I just thought it would be nice for some riders to have a bit of a warm-up to our event as well.”

Mrs Harrex said the day was a low-key way for local riders to get a run under their belt without the pressure of a competition.

“It’s just a training day. We score the dressage – we have a qualified judge – then after that you pretty much go and do your thing.

“I think people are a little bit surprised about how relaxed it is.

“We’ve had a few scratchings – the ones travelling form Dunedin haven’t been able to get through which is a real shame. But everyone’s been really positive and asking when are we having the next one.”

Mrs Harrex said Clyde Pony Club had also made good progress on building a cross-country course on its new grounds, ready for the coming competition.

“The new course is going really good. We’re a good 70 percent done.

“There’s still a lot to do but we can certainly see that we’ll have it ready.”