WINDSOR, N.S. – Dara Rossong, 13, with her horse Gucci and Dakota MacDonald, 14 with her horse Beauty were outside in the warm spring sun, getting ready for the jumping competition.
“I’ve been riding for about four-and-a-half years, but I’ve only been showing for two or three,” Rossong said.
The rider from Mount Uniacke said she was encouraged to come out to this show to help kick off the season.
MacDonald of Newport Station said, despite a cold muffling her voice, that she was excited to be there.
“This show is really important to us, because (Beauty) is still in training,” MacDonald said. “This allows her to get exposed to some new jumps and other stuff.”
Mary Henry, is one of the original instructors of the Avon Pony Club, dating back to 1972. She’s been with the institution for so long her name is on the main barn, where many of the horses are stabled.
For her, the pony club is a way for younger riders to get into and appreciate the sport.
“It teaches young children to ride and the jumps are low, so the children get lots of confidence and practice,” Henry said. “It also doesn’t cost as much, because going to the gold shows can be expensive. If your horse stops during one of those, you’re eliminated; but here, your horse can have umpteen tries to make a jump.”
“Also it’s fun,” she adds.
There are also two gold shows still to come at the Hants County Exhibition Arena, one at the end of May and another at the end of June.
Henry said the funds that come in from the two gold shows and the Mega Training Show are the main sources of revenue for the Avon Pony Club.
Jill Redden and Lindsay MacIntyre, organizers of the event, said they were very happy with the turnout this year.
“Our riders start here, and they sort of find their footing and find out where they need to be and what they need to work on,” Redden said. “This allows them to train towards their goal.”
The riders range in skill level from brand new, some as young as five, to professional trainers readying their young horses.
Redden also said it gives riders a chance to talk to fellow equestrians and coaches, swapping tips and tricks.
“It gives every kid an opportunity to come out and play,” she said. “This is the grass roots of the sport.”
Lindsay MacIntyre said approximately 70 riders were entered in the show – selling out of stalls in the barn, meaning some had to work off their trailers.