THE PHILIP SMITH MEMORIAL EQUITATION CHAMPIONSHIP
The Philip Smith Memorial Equitation Championship has become a worthy successor to the WAS Supreme Championship held at the Witwatersrand Agricultural Show for many years producing winners of the calibre of Jonathan Clarke, Andrea Harrison, Shirley Kemp and Tamlyn Clegg.
The Championship is a tribute to the memory of Philip Smith, himself a brilliant rider and a great stylist. He represented South Africa on many occasions in the early days, when top show jumping riders competed in the Indoor Arena at Milner Park against International teams from the United Kingdom and the United States of America. He was, in addition, a great supporter of Equitation and judged the WAS Supreme on several occasions.
This competition has been open, by invitation, to the top 4 finalists from the South African National Junior Individual Championship in the preceding year and has been in existence since 2001.
On the first day the 4 riders commence with a Flatwork Test and after the Briefing they report to the Steward at the Arena. At this point they are no longer permitted any outside assistance or communication with anyone other than the designated Stewards. They ride the Test on their own horse and then subsequently on each of the 3 other horses.
The purpose of the Flatwork test is to demonstrate to the judges their ability to produce competent and fluent schooling movements on their own and different horses. They have to show how these movements are imperative in the schooling and producing of show jumpers.
On the following day the Jumping Phase also commences on their own horse and here again the competitors are allowed no assistance. They walk the course on their own and then report to the Steward in the warm-up area.
The track commences with a Gymnastic that is ridden one hand, no stirrups, followed by a course of 9 fences including 1 treble, set at a height and technicality of between 1.15m/1.20m.
In the words of Rogan Asken after judging the Championship in 2013 –
“Whilst the format has had some small changes, the arduous nature of the competition and the high quality of the riders, who make it into this extraordinary event has not altered at all.
It matters less about the finishing order and more about the quality of the group, who are fine examples of our South African Equitation and Coaching system. They showed – Equestrian Education, Ringcraft, Empathy and Big Match Temperament.”
Along with the very generous Prize Money, Medals, Mementoes for the Coaches, the Championship now carries an additional fantastic 1 st Prize of a trip overseas to any prestigious Horse Show for the Winner and their coach. So far Lexi Stais and Lorette Knowles Taylor had an awesome trip to the Royal International Horse Show in the UK. Laurence Mowatt and Gill Taylor have also enjoyed a memorable trip to the Dublin Horse Show in Ireland and soon we will be giving you some highlights of Chelsey Gertenbach’s trip to Olympia, London in December, 2014.
Amazing experiences for the Winner and their Coach to enjoy after many years of hard work and dedication to all things Equestrian.
An enormous thank you must go, from everyone involved in the Equitation Discipline, to Mrs Mary Slack for her generosity in sponsoring this highly prized competition for so many years.