Nov. 23, 2018
Mounted Games at USPC Championships East
By Christian Love
I am super excited to share information about Zoe Love and Whinnie and their adventure at USPC Championships. Zoe was on a composite mounted games senior team, called Whiplash. They had one rider from Kentucky, one rider from New York, two riders from Florida, and Zoe from Tennessee.
Zoe is 14 and has been a pony clubber since she was 7 years old. She has participated in numerous rallies: in quiz, show jumping, combined training, and games. She currently events and competes in mounted games.
The parts of playing mounted games that she loves the most are the teamwork and the partnerships formed not only with your pony, but also with your other teammates to accurately and quickly complete each race. There are over 30 different games in which they participate, and the team must know how to perform them efficiently and effectively.
The well-trained ponies, like Whinnie, know the games just as well as the rider. They look for the placement of the equipment and know when to take off. They turn when needed and stop when needed. They have to be able to go straight as an arrow at speed, yet also turn and stop on a dime. The ponies need to be accustomed to popping balloons, jousting boards, long sticks with flags waving next to them, the sound of sword rings and litter jiggling near their ears, while racing to hand off within inches of the next pony. These ponies and riders are amazing!
Another neat thing about mounted games is it provides an opportunity for a rider to continue riding and competing on that special pony long after they have jumped their top height or grown too tall to look perfect for the show ring. Many ponies love the games and love to race!
That is where Zoe’s and Whinnie’s story begins. Whinnie was purchased as an unbroken pony from a family in west Tennessee. I was simply driving past a pasture with the cutest little pony in it all by itself and stopped to enquire. At that time I owned a mobile petting zoo and needed an adorable pony for princess pony dress up parties. Sure enough, I drove home with that adorable pony in the same trailer with a miniature donkey, a snow goose, and a baby Jersey cow. Zoe (who was in diapers at the time) immediately fell in love with her. She sat on her all of the time and loved that pony to no end.
While Zoe was learning to ride, Whinnie was learning to be a petting zoo pony, becoming accustomed to balloons, clowns, screaming kids and lots of handling. Whinnie loved every minute of it. Nothing fazed her, and the more kids, the better.
At age five, Wren Frazer was willing to bring Zoe on as a student, where she learned beautiful equitation. Wren found her a pony to lease while Whinnie went off to training camp with a student of Wren’s to learn to jump. Whinnie was a bit quick at jumping for the hunters, but did it with enthusiasm. Whinnie went on to compete at many Brownland, Hunters Court, and 4H shows, while Zoe learned to ride on amazing lesson ponies with Wren.
Whinnie returned ready to teach Zoe how to fly. Zoe joined Pony Club and took her pony Whinnie wherever we went. Sally Goldfarb helped Zoe at her first combined training rally, where Whinnie taught Zoe how to kick on and stay focused. The next rally was a mounted games rally and the big bit. At about this time, Zoe was lucky enough to be training with Becca Hoos for eventing. Becca and Zoe realized that Whinnie had her height limit for jumping and we had hit it. It was time to look for a new eventing partner. But Zoe was not willing to let go of her precious Whinnie. That is when Zoe made Whinnie a full time games pony and Whinnie was super happy and appreciative. At this time, Zoe joined USMGA (United States Mounted Games Association) and her games journey began. Since then, they attended many mounted games rallies and USMGA competitions. These two have literally grown up together.
The last two years have been a dream come true. Whinnie and Zoe have a USPC National Championship under their belts, a USMGA National Championship, just completed their first International mounted games competition, The Nations Cup, with teams from Australia and New Zealand. Zoe and Whinnie were on the USPC Midsouth team Pickles, which placed second in this year’s Prince Philip Cup in April at the Kentucky Three-Day Event. And this summer, July 25-29, 2018 Whinnie and Zoe competed in the USPC Championships East at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, NC.
Zoe and I both want to share mounted games with more kids in the mid south area and want to find more kids who want to participate in this amazing adventure. It is a bitter sweet time for us because this is Whinnie’s last big competition with Zoe. As wonderful as Whinnie is, she is not a racer. She is fast but not quite fast enough for International competitions. We are looking for Whinnie’s next partner to bring along in mounted games, while we search for Zoe’s next partner to take her to the next level. We thought it would be fun to share Zoe’s and Whinnie’s story. They are quite a sweet pair!
Whinnie has been the best pony any girl could ask for. Starting from pony rides in diapers to USPC Championships and International competitions, Zoe and Whinnie have had an amazing adventure. There is no truer relationship than a girl and her pony achieving dreams together. You can see the trust and relationship they have built while playing on the field.
Update from USPC Championships East:
Zoe Love’s mounted games team, “Whiplash,” was a scramble team with two players from Florida, one from New York, one from Kentucky, and Zoe from Tennessee. Their team captain Mary Ledford from Kentucky was a wonderful leader! They came to USPC Championships, having never played games as a team together and with no coach. They absolutely did a phenomenal job! They earned second place out of nine teams, just behind the first-placed team Latte from Florida. Then, in the Presidents Cup under the lights, they earned second place out of seven qualified teams, just behind the team from Virginia. It was a wonderful experience for all the players!
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