Organisers of the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series has announced the teams who will represent England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the Omega Equine Pony Club Dressage Home International. Participants achieved their places through an open qualifying round system and have submitted their filmed dressage tests to be shown during the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series Livestream, from 1pm on Sunday 27 September 2020.
The online Show was the obvious place to host a version of Royal Windsor Horse Show’s Pony Club Home International after the competition sadly couldn’t take place earlier this year. The Pony Club and Virtual Windsor teams collaborated in organising the competition, and it is a great example of how to leverage talents with a real ‘adapt and overcome’ spirit.
The Pony Club appointed Dressage Judges Clare Deithrick, John Robinson and Linda Pearce who bring their great experience to the competition. Each country’s team is composed of one Novice, one Intermediate and two Open riders.
Places on the teams are awarded to the highest placed riders of each nation in the qualifying rounds. Their scores are then added together to give the final team scores. The innovative qualifying method has thrown the competition open this year, with the criteria for entry only being that the competitor must be a current member of The Pony Club and must have two verifiable scores of 67% or over at the level they wish to compete at (or its British Dressage equivalent) in the 2018 – 2020 season.
The teams are a real demonstration of the breadth and depth of talent which The Pony Club nurtures, and the competition has given a chance for riders from every corner of the countries to try out for places.
For Laura King and Bellissima MKM, who ride the Open test for Northern Ireland, the Home International probably marks the last test they will ever ride for The Pony Club, having been a Member of the Iveagh since the age of eight.
At the other end of the scale, Reece Cunningham and Inside Out II are just starting out on their Pony Club careers, having impressed the judges to take the Intermediate spot for Scotland.
The Republic of Ireland is very much representing a talented new generation of riders, fielding a very young team which includes 10-year-old Charlotte Goor and Barkway State Affair, who ride their Novice test.The riders also show off an amazing array of horses and ponies from the British Isles and beyond, from fell pony Lownthwaite Savin (Rhona Forbes) who will compete for Scotland, to more traditional dressage types like Callum Robertson’s Irish Sportshorse, Ferro Curry.
As part of the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series, Olympic dressage rider and long-time supporter of The Pony Club Richard Davison has been interviewed by commentator Nick Brooks-Ward, alongside Marcus Capel, Chief Executive of The Pony Club.
The three, who are all fathers of Members reminisced about their own time in The Pony Club, their ‘best’ dressage tests, their most nerve wracking moments as Dads, discuss equality and debate who gets to ride Big Star in a fantasy jump off!
A great supporter of the organisation, the four-time Olympian, Davison said, “The Pony Club gave me the grounding for spending all the years that I have done as a professional in equestrian sport and training horses – and it’s funny because I actually didn’t ride a dressage test I don’t think during the time I was a member of The Pony Club!”