Campbell Valley Park in Langley was the site of the International Mounted Games Exchange on Sunday, with teen riders from Canada, Britain, Australia and the United States competing in a variety of skill-testing events in front of an audience of about 100.
As two Team Canada competitors navigated a tricky high-speed handoff, event co-chair Joanie Thompson was taking notes from her observer position at the fence of the Campbell Valley Park arena.
“It’s really a good time and the kids really learn a lot about horsemanship and how to steer your horse and stop,” Thompson said.
The Mounted Games involves riders 14 or 15 years old playing a variety of games while riding ponies.
It started in England, after Prince Philip encouraged Horse of the Year Show organizers to arrange a competition for children on “ordinary” ponies in 1957.
The exchange is held every year and rotates between Canada, Australia, Great Britain and the US.
The written rules note the prime object “is the meeting, exchange of views and better understanding” between the participating pony clubs.
Competition is restricted to the four countries because “it has been agreed that it would not be practical financially to extend the exchange formula beyond the present four Nations, in the foreseeable future.”
Teams are of four to five riders with ponies that “must be serviceably sound and well shod, or with their feet properly dressed.”
The teams arrived June 30 and went on a 17-day tour of B.C. leading up to the event, Thompson said.
“First we did Vancouver, then they went over to the island, then they went up to Whistler, then they came back to Langley for the competition.”
The relay race games included the “Canadian Race” which has riders using hockey sticks to knock balls through a goal post while riding through a row of four bending poles and the “Sword Race” which has players using a sword to retrieve rings from four posts.
Great Britain won the Langley event, followed by Australia, Canada, and the U.S.
This year’s competition was hosted by the Canadian Pony Club which has 2,500 individual members, organized through 150 branch clubs.
The Canadian club is affiliated with an international network of more than twenty national Pony Clubs in other countries.