COMMONWEALTH GAMES CLINIC AT BEALIBA PONY CLUB
While the rest of the world focused on the Commonwealth Games being held in Melbourne, the Bealiba & District Pony Club held a two day Instructional Clinic with a “Games” Theme.
Families gathered at the pony club grounds on Tuesday Night for a Welcoming Ceremony & BBQ Tea. The riders were excited about the program of showjumping, dressage, cross-country, games and a navigation ride although the highlight of the evening was the torch relay where everyone gathered on the oval, split into four groups with one runner carrying the torch between groups before passing it onto the next runner.
Cheers and clapping encouraged Betty Klingenberg, grandmother & number one supporter of the Bealiba Club as she carried the torch across the finishing line. All clinic participants were presented with a Passport, which indicated 18 activities to be completed prior to the end of the clinic. Once each activity was completed it was rewarded with a sticker, a full passport received a gold medal. Some of the activities were: to attend all lessons, wash their horses tail, help in the kitchen, participate in night-time activities, pick up rubbish, eat fruit and drink plenty of water throughout the two days. Riders were keen to collect stickers finding the tasks fun with most riders collecting a medal.
Forty-one riders participated in the clinic with Allan Mitchell instructing Show Jumping continuing the wonderful work that he does for the Bealiba club. A grid was set up with riders working on striding. Allan teaches the riders the importance of being able to shorten and lengthen a horses stride enabling them to jump safely without getting under jumps or taking off too far away.
In the dressage arena Rosemary Harris kept all riders busy as they worked on their upward and downward transisitions, lateral and circle work. Rosemary also showed all groups how to help their horse become more flexible by a number of exercises that can be carried out while unmounted, with the encouragement of small pieces of carrots, horses will bend their head into different positions, strengthening their neck & body muscles.
Bealiba has a team of four riders training for the Midland Zone Flat & Musical Ride to be held in May. Rosemary, the team manager and riders worked together on the Musical Ride incorporating different moves to fit in with the music chosen for the event.
Out on the cross country course Debbie Browell spoke to riders about the importance of getting off their horses backs between jumps, she encouraged riders to sit down on approach allowing the horse to focus on the upcoming jump. As cross country jumps are at different positions on a course and are built solid, it is extremely important that riders are confident when riding this phase as a refusal at a jump adds 20 penalty points to a riders score.
Richard Glenn had groups of riders going through each pony club game to be ridden at the upcoming Games Day. Many games require picking up, placing or passing objects from rider to rider, Richard worked on the correct technique to minimize passing errors. These activities are thoroughly enjoyed by all participants.
Wednesday night’s activities invited all interested participants to take part in a team challenge. Each team competed in Discus (paper plate) throwing, Javelin (chop sticks), Shot Put (table tennis ball), Basketball (goal throwing), Handball (through a hole in a large cardboard) and a game of skill which required participants to roll a ball down a table into holes of different points. At the end of the games each teams scores were added together to decide the overall team placing. Gold, silver & bronze medals were presented to the first three teams.
On the second day of the clinic one of the activities was to participate in an 8 kilometre Navigation ride along the quiet country tracks surrounding Bealiba. A number of easy questions were pinned up along the track requiring each group to answer them.. At the end of the ride they took the first letter of each answer to spell out a sentence, which read, “Bealiba is the best club”.
A special participant at the clinic was top female jockey Andrea Leek. Andrea works for Victorian Racing and is in charge of the Jockey Training Schools. Andrea became the first female jockey to win a steeplechase at the 128-year-old Oakbank carnival. She then went on to become the first women rider to win the 4950m Great Eastern Steeplechase, riding with a broken wrist. A few years ago Andrea came to Bealiba as an instructor and fell in love with the club and its friendly members and well-organised instructional schools. Andrea along with her two children Zoe (9 years) and Mitchell (5 years) joined the clinic participants to take part in all lessons. Andrea rode Boxter Blue, the horse that won the Great Eastern Steeplechase at the clinic and showed amazing skills to manoeuvre this large ex racehorse around the show jumping & cross country courses & dressage arena & games.
During the evening Andrea showed instructors, parents and clinic participants videos of her winning rides and told stories about the wonderful brave horse that fought hard to be a winner. The presence of Andrea and her children was a special part of the two-day clinic.
The Bealiba & District Pony Club is entering into its sixth year of holding school holiday clinics. The idea of meeting at their grounds which provides ideal accommodation for the riders and their horses, inviting instructors of a very high level and providing a program of interesting and challenging horse related activities has proved an enormous success. Clinics cater for riders as young as 4 years to adults, with riders grouped according to their riding ability. The clinics have between 40 to 45 riders participating with places for the next one being booked well in advance.
One reason that these camps are special is that each one is given a theme with related activities and information to teach the participants about it. Some of the themes have been, Eventing Clinic, Easter Clinic, Active Riding Clinic, Look to the Future Clinic. Nursery Rhyme Clinic, Pre-Easter Clinic, Rodeo Wild Clinic, Equestrian Olympia, Space Clinic, Circus Clinic and our latest one relating to the Commonwealth Games. While many pony clubs only focus on a few horse related activities eg: show jumping, dressage, cross country & games the Bealiba club recognises that the number of horse related activities is numerous and by introducing these into their program they open a window of interest and opportunity for their members and friends to enjoy their horses in any chosen discipline.