Originally posted on Academie Duello’s blog in November 2011
Excellence takes many forms in the equestrian world. There is the elegance of dressage, the precision of jumping, the savvy of a good cow-horse and the bravery of an eventer. But for breathtaking ‘wow’ factor it’s hard to beat the excitement of Mounted Games and the amazing athleticism of the riders and ponies who play them.
This weekend I was lucky enough to be able to watch a Mounted Games Clinic with Jim Dunn and Cindy Johnson of the Canadian Mounted Games Association. Mounted Games is an evolution of the Pony Club’s Prince Phillip Games and, unlike PPG, it is open to riders of all ages. It was inspiring to watch the riders, mostly from Pony Club, work on their running vaults, hand-offs and targetting. I came away with many new drills and lots of insider techniques I can hardly wait to pass on when our games practices get up and running in the spring!
Take-away message from the clinic: there’s training and there’s practice. Training is repeating a skill over and over again till both you and your pony are so bored you can do it with your eyes closed. In other words, you’re working on muscle memory for both you and the pony, just like we do with sword drills. Practice is taking those trained skills and stringing them together to rehearse games at increasing speeds until you’re at the top of your speed and accuracy. Spending time training before you practice makes your practice more efficient and your game smoother.
If you want a longer look at what the clinic was like, this video was taken at a similar clinic with Jim and Cindy in Alberta.
Summer Update: Prince Phillip Games season has come and gone, and it was quite a thrill to watch the kids improve over the four playdays, from the beginning C riders to the A’s and Masters. And I finally got a chance to ride in Oldtimers and relive my gymkhana days. My eldest daughter made the team for National Masters and just yesterday morning I was out in Maple Ridge watching the team practice. It’s an impressive bunch of kids heading out to Edmonton in August to represent our region!