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Pony Club pride

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Dear Editor:

The Roaring Fork Hounds Pony Club was a part of a historic moment July 17-24 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington at the US Pony Club National Championships. Eight young, accomplished equestrians from the Roaring Fork and Eagle River Valleys competed in team Show Jumping and Quiz, demonstrating their self-reliance, sportsmanship, teamwork, and enjoyment of the game well-played.

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Coach Bridget Strang trailered 5 horses to Kentucky, and proved that the Rocky Mountain Region produces some of the best English riders in the nation. Pony Club teaches a solid foundation of correct riding based on timeless principles, good balance and communication, developing thinking and effective riders who always have their horse’s best interest at heart. We are very proud of our hard-working kids and their horses who competed during a heat wave with a temperature index of 105 degrees!

Over 1,600 competitors ages 8-18 travelled to Kentucky from 40 regions including Alaska, to demonstrate their skill in many different equestrian disciplines. There were 2 sections for 31 teams in the Introductory Show Jumping Divisions, and our local team of Olivia Pedersen, captain, Leah Braudis, Wren Kelly, Callista Smith, and Madison Ritsch, stable manager (Eagle Valley), placed fifth in both Jumping and Horse Management. Ella Stainton rode on Tahquitz Equestrian team from Thermal, CA and her team placed first in Horse Management and second in Show Jumping. Honors were awarded for Equitation (judged on the rider’s position and effectiveness in communicating with their horse) to Wren third, and Callista sixth, out of over 120 riders.

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Francesca Savi and Hazel Barette competed on a Quiz team, placing second in their division.

Support from our local community made it possible for our Pony Clubbers to compete at Championships. We are grateful for donations from the Aspen Valley Polo Club, Roaring Fork Valley Horse Council, Western Slope Materials, Sue and Bob Pietrzak, Roaring Fork Valley Co-op, Alpine Bank, Barbara McElnea, Karin Reid Offield and Chris Vance, as well as many generous friends of Pony Club including Judy Brown, Susan Cuseo, Marguerite Dykann, Barbara and Peter Guy, CJ Howard, Nancy Kimbrell, Lynn Kirchner, Maree McAteer, Carla Peltonen, Yvonne Perry, Hensley Peterson, Monica Schwaller, Leslie Thomas, and all the equestrians who entered the Pony Club Benefit Horse Show on July 8-9.

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Bridget, Kit and Scott Strang provide our club with a wonderful home at Strang Ranch. Good horsemanship extends far beyond skills in the saddle, and Pony Club provides an impressive depth of knowledge in equine behavior and training, health and fitness, nutrition, veterinary care, and correct uses and maintenance of saddles and other equipment. Special thanks to our coach, Bridget Strang, a Pony Club graduate herself, for her dedication to developing our kids’ character, leadership,confidence and sense of community.

Valery Kelly, District Commissioner

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Roaring Fork Hounds Pony Club

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