By Darren Lum
Published by Aug. 23 2016
Harcourt’s Jocelyn Donaldson won’t soon forget the throngs of people along the cobbled main street who came to cheer the waving flags and the long line of horses in front of her as she paraded close to two kilometres with more than 100 riders and their coaches on July 12 in Millstreet County Cork Ireland to open this year’s 30th annual World Team Championships in mounted games.
“That was really amazing because it was ponies everywhere for as far as you can see forward as far as you can see back” she said.
With 13 other Canadians which included coaches and junior and open competitors the 26-year-old’s first experience representing Canada at the world championships went well.
The open competitor helped her team finish seventh in the B final at the competition that was held from July 11 to 17.
She said if the team won one more race out of the 70 during their four days of competition they could have finished as high as third with a clean run. There were 17 teams from around the world.
The teams of Canada Australia and New Zealand were left with borrowed ponies for competition.
The New Zealand team lived in Ireland for close to a year and adjusted to their borrowed ponies while Australia made due using an aggressive style to finish third.
Donaldson said this challenging situation left Canada at a disadvantage. The team managed to borrow two ponies not part of the offering from the world organizers because of connections established through her coach. It narrowed the discrepancy between the other teams’ horses but didn’t completely level the playing field.
Although Donaldson only had two days to get used to her borrowed pony she said her competition went well due in large part to her pony’s demeanor and abilities to respond to her direction.
“She wasn’t nasty or anything and didn’t have any tricks. She was so fun to ride and everyone was commenting I must be having so much fun because I was smiling the whole time” she said.
For her the competition presented an opportunity to meet people who shared her passion for riding and the mounted games.
“It didn’t matter where you came from even if you spoke a different language. We were all on the same page and everyone was nice to each other and respectful. I really liked that and being part of it” she said.
The mounted games is an event that includes diverse competitions of skill and speed sometimes requiring riders to dismount and run on top of a line of overturned buckets and then mount a horse at full gallop or ride with a stick held like a lance and collect rings with it. These races test rider and horse to complete these races the quickest and with the least amount of mistakes to minimize penalties assigned. In the competitions the races are between teams of four riders on ponies measuring less than 14 hands high that race in a relay format where the teams must ride in their own lanes like track and field. Each rider takes its turn until everyone has finished.
The championships also included local junior competitor Alyssa Bogardis who is coached by Donaldson. The Harcourt resident said the juniors finished third in the B final.
Top teams competed in the A final.
Following the world event Donaldson was invited to compete at the upcoming Welsh Championships from Sept. 10 to 11 and join a mixed team of five who will come from all over Europe. She will head overseas four days before to adjust to the borrowed pony. The open event will include even more teams than the worlds with 47 teams.
“I’m looking forward to it. It will be fun experience” she said.