POLOCROSSE players from North Down and East Down Pony Club Branches got together for two days at the start of the Easter holidays to have some expert coaching and lots of fun.
The venue was the Antwerp Indoor Arena at Gransha Equestrian Centre in Bangor, so many thanks to Adrienne Stuart, her family and staff for making us all welcome.
The coaches were Craig Kileff, Toby Fynn and Ashleigh Saunderson. They did a great job warming up players and ponies before moving on to more serious skills training and match tactics which were put into practice each afternoon with friendly but very competitive chukkas being played.
During the ponys’ lunch break the boys and girls learned how to bandage their animals to protect their legs and to plait their tails to keep them tidy and give the teams a very professional appearance.
The players have been practicing on foot every Tuesday evening during the winter months and with their ponies from February, alternating between Lessans Rid-ing Stables in Lisburn one week and Gransha Equestrian Centre in Bangor the next.
The hard work they have put in is paying off and these two days have helped to bring all the skills together, with eight players qualifying for Pony Club Championships in Cheshire in August and four of the North Down players, Max Lewis, Bailey McGuile, Eloise Keers and Abbey Wallace, being selected to travel to Dallas Burston in Warwickshire to compete in the Spring Arena Tournament.
At this tournament, they will be riding borrowed horses which they will only be partnered with on the morning of the tournament, they will need to call on all their horsemanship skills to form a competitive bond with their new mounts in a very short space of time.
I am sure all the Area 17 Pony Club Polocrosse Players will be following their progress and wishing them the best of luck.
As the nights have stretched and the ground has dried, players will be heading to the summer pitch at Oaktree Farm, Hillsborough to train outdoors each Tuesday evening and weekends with small tournaments to be held each month to chart the players’ progress and hopefully give members from other Branches within Area 17 the opportunity to qualify for the Summer Pony Club Championships.
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