During the summer I traveled across the pond for what was one of the most amazing summers a mounted games rider could have ever asked for. Mounted games is a branch of equestrian sport in which very fast relay races are played by people of all ages on ponies up to a height of 15 hands (60 inches, 152 cm).They require a high degree of athletic ability, good riding skills, hand-to-eye coordination, determination, perseverance, and a competitive spirit, which nevertheless requires an ability to work together with other riders and a willingness to help one another.
I left July 10th from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on route to Dublin, Ireland. My family and I took the 8 hour flight which seemed more like 20 hours to Dublin, where we then traveled 3 hours by car (on the wrong side of the road) to the small town of Killarney. For the first 2 days we had some down time to recover from jet-lag, and do some touring around the area including castle touring. After our down time the fun began at Mounted Games World Team Championships (WTC) in Millstreet, Ireland about 30 minutes from where we were staying. Our week at WTC began with the drawing of ponies. We could not ship our ponies over we had to use borrowed ones. Our Canadian team learned really fast the large ponies we ride in Canada are the complete opposite from Irelands small ponies. The pony I rode was named Uno who was about 13’1hh. It was a weird feeling riding a pony that I could wrap my legs around but it made things much easier when it came to playing the games.
Practice sessions took place on Monday and Tuesday as we had to get used to a ponies we had never ridden before. The qualifying sessions began on Wednesday and ran through until Friday where we rode 2 sessions a day against teams including Ireland, England, France, Wales, Australia, South Africa and more. The qualifying session placed our team in the C Final with Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. We played as hard as we could but ended up falling just short of 2nd in our final.
After the fun and games at the Gala dinner it was off to live with the family I would stay with for the next three weeks. I lived with a amazing family from Ireland that worked a cattle farm but also played mounted games. The first week with the family was just a relaxing week to have some down time and ride some more Irish ponies. I got to experience some of the Irish culture and “live like an Irishman” as they said.
The end of the first week we packed all of our things and started our 2 day journey to Germany stopping in Dover, England for half a day so the drivers of the lorries could rest. We Arrived in Luhmühlen, Germany for the European championships. During the week I got to watch some of the best riders from all over Europe compete from the ages of under-12 to open where there is riders that are 30+ years old. I got to meet and make friends with so many riders in Germany and experience the German culture at the same time.
When the competition was over we packed up yet again for my final journey by car to the World Pairs Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark. At world pairs I got the chance to ride with the middle daughter of the family I was living with, Laoise. We compete in the Under-17 world pairs. The week began with finding my pony that I would be borrowing for the week, her name war Bertha. We had our practice Sessions on Monday And Tuesday then luckily got the whole day Wednesday off before the competition. Wednesday we walked to the train station where we took the train to the city and spent the day at an amusement park. The competition started early Thursday when we rode our first session at 7:30 A.M we had an amazing first session and were sitting tied for 3rd overall after the first day. Friday morning we had a rough heat riding with the 3 past Under-17 pairs champions which dropped us in points but we managed to have a good second session to make up for it. Saturday morning was the finals. Although again our final was the C final, at 7:30 A.M my mom still got out of bed at 1:30 here in Canada to watch the live stream and cheer me on. Laoise and I ended up 2nd in the C final Only 1 point behind 1st.
Sunday morning brought an end to all the fun and GAMES when we travelled to the airport for my long flight home to see my family.