Pony Club prances to Nationals

Amanda Myton, Reporter

Seven of our seahawks have qualified to attend the United States Pony Club Festival at the Kentucky Horse Park this summer through the Narrows Pony Club. The Pony Club is a national organization that works to educate equestrians on competing and horse management.

“I’ve had the chance to ride with a lot of instructors that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise because I am in Pony Club. I have opportunities to ride in rallies and I qualified for festival,” junior Lexie Priest said.

Riders qualify for Festival individually but compete as a team.The event takes place in Lexington, Kentucky and the team with be there from July 14 to the 21. The first half of the week is packed with competition then the second half is filled with clinics occupied by Olympic and international riders.

“It’s a huge opportunity to compete against some of the best riders in the country at an amazing venue,” Priest said.

The team has competed in several local events, some of which they had the opportunity to qualify. This is the first time the team has had the chance to attend a national competition so this will be their first year at Festival.

“I’m looking forward to the experience. It’s where the big-time people go,” freshman Emilie Everett said.

Senior Ellie Combs, sophomore Abby Saar and Everett have qualified for the dressage competition. Dressage is a discipline where precise movements are performed by horse and rider. Juniors Libby Everett, Priest and sophomore Cedar Combs  have qualified for show jumping. Freshman Mikayla Hoover is currently working to qualify for the eventing competition, an event that includes portions from dressage, cross-country and show jumping.

“You’re not just representing yourself and your club; you’re representing your region. You can’t just sign up, you have to qualify and it’s really difficult depending on the event. It’s also very expensive because of how far we have to travel,” Priest said.

Narrows Pony Club has held several fundraisers to help pay for the trip. Selling calendars, taking Santa pictures with the ponies, a St. Patrick’s Day dinner with silent and live auctions, a hunter jumper show and a YoGi’s takeover are among the efforts to fund their way to Kentucky. A GoFundMePage has also been set up for the public to donate and donations are tax deductable. The club has raised $32,000 out of the $55,000 needed to supply all ten girls for the competition.

The team is looking forward to the competition. They have been working hard to qualify and raise the money to get to Kentucky; it is a reward for their dedication to their sport.

“It’s a huge time commitment, they [the horses] can’t just take care of themselves. You can leave your cleats in the corner for three months and they’ll be fine. You can’t do that with a horse,” Priest said. “You always have to look professional. A lot of people think we don’t do anything as riders but horses have their own minds.”

To learn more abut the riders and their events, they have posted a video at youtube.com/watch?v=A9motkb9B9I . Supporters may donate at www.gofundme.com/5akn14 or find other ways to support through “Narrows Pony Club Travels to Festival 2014” on Facebook.