A local horse enthusiast is heading to Kelowna to compete in the 2010 National Pony Club Dressage Championships, Aug. 13-15.
Pegasus Pony Club member Emily Marston, 15, has been riding since she was two years old and is thrilled to be going to the competition.
“I am really nervous, but excited,” said Marston, who is also this year’s Crossfield Rodeo princess. “I have been studying hard…for the test.”
Marston will be competing against 15 Pony Club members, aged 14 and up, from across Canada, in the pretraining level.
She will ride two horses, which she has never ridden before, and will complete five-minute patterns with a series of movements including side pass, walk, canter, trot, turn on the haunches and turn on the heel.
She will be awarded points on how well the horses respond to her instructions.
Marston, a Grade 10 student at Airdrie’s George McDougall High School, is controlling her nerves by remembering this isn’t the first time she has ridden new horses.
“I ride lots of people’s horses for them,” said Marston, who has been involved in breaking horses. “I know what to expect and that I can’t treat it like my own horse.”
Kathy, Marston’s mom and coach, is confident in her daughter’s skills.
“She has got the ability to do anything,” said Kathy, who has trained Marston for six years. “She can get on and ride just about anything.”
Kathy said horses innately trust her daughter.
“Her key thing is she has soft hands,” said Kathy. “She is not afraid and the horses feel like she is someone they can trust. Trust is a big thing, especially when you are going out and riding a horse you’ve never ridden before.”
Marston qualified for nationals by placing first in her event at regional championships, which were held in August 2009 in Cochrane. She also earned a first place finish in show jumping at that event.
Marston plans to continue riding, with the goal of one day competing at Spruce Meadows.
Kathy hopes the event will be a positive learning experience for her daughter.
“I am so glad that she qualified to go and get a chance to do this,” said Kathy. “I want her to have fun. I want her to meet people and experience what it is like to go to a national competition.”
According to Kathy, dressage, which is an Olympic sport, is the basis for all equine disciplines including cross-country riding and show jumping.