The 2013 SA Junior Championships was held at the picturesque George Riding Club and superbly organised by Suskia Radermacher-Harris and her wonderful team. Special thanks must go to the Radermacher family, not only for their sponsorship but also for their time and effort – without them this show would not have been possible.

Thank you to Jo Webb and her team who were tasked with convening the Equitation discipline and coped amazingly well for their first time organizing a competition at this level.

The number of entries received was encouraging with 21 entered in the Novice class, 16 in the Intermediate class and 15 in the Open class with 3 teams competing in the team event in each level.

Monday saw the Novice individual and team competition which ran concurrently, as did the Intermediate individual and team event with the Open Individual taking place on the Tuesday morning and the Open team event on the Wednesday afternoon.

Monday morning got underway in the B Arena with the Novice event starting us off and included an unexpected guest appearance from the Fire brigade, who came to give the warm up arena some much needed watering, which caused a slight delay in proceedings. It was encouraging to see so many talented young riders, but with 3 judges for the competition it meant that any minus marks for poles knocked played an influential role in the final scores and proved quite costly for some.

The individual competition was won by Harriet Matthews from Kwazulu-Natal on a score of 107, with Gideon Siecker from the Western Cape only 2 ½ marks behind in 2nd on a score of 104 ½ and Connor Wilson from KZN in 3rd on 97. Mia Rebula from the Eastern Cape finished in 4th with Bridget Ford, also from the Eastern Cape in 5th and Ines de Ferry from the Western Cape tying with Tegan Bruyns from Gauteng for 6th place.

Kwazulu-Natal were clear winners of the Novice team event finishing on a score of 291 ½,  followed by the Eastern Cape in 2nd on 284 and the Western Cape in 3rd on 272 ½.

The Intermediate competitors were up next and the competition got a lot hotter! There were very few penalties picked up by competitors in this class and the overall standard of riding was impressive. The top 8 riders after Part 2 was completed went through to ride in Part 3 on swopped horses for the Individual competition. The riders who went through were Kyla Bruyns (Gauteng) on 105.5; Lauren Miller (WC) on 103; Robyn Ramsay (EC) on 98; Danielle Lemmer (Limpopo) on 97.5; Ashleigh Samuels (EC) and Amy Taylor (EC) both on 97; Ryan Watkinson (WC) on 96.5; Isabelle Stirrup (WC) on 94.5 and Nadia Breytenbach (Mpumalanga) on 94.

For those new to Equitation, in Part 3 the riders going through draw each other’s numbers out of a hat and get to ride the corresponding horse in a shortened test. Once they have all adjusted their stirrups, etc. they get 1 minute to get used to their new mount, after which they each get to take 1 practice jump (which may not be a combination). With it all to play for, the change of horses in Part 3 played its part and the final standings were:

1st Kyla Bruyns (GP) – 155.5; 2nd Danielle Lemmer (Limpopo) – 149.5; 3rd Robyn Ramsay (EC) & Lauren Miller (WC) – 149; 5th Isabelle Stirrup (WC) – 145; 6th Ryan Watkinson (WC) – 144.5.

For the Intermediate team competition, the top 3 scores from each team after the completion of Part 2 were tallied up and the victors were the team from the Western Cape on a score of 294, very closely followed by the Eastern Cape team on 292 and the team from Mpumalanga finishing in 3rd on 265.

Thank you to our 3 judges for the day – Anthony Kay, Kirsten Rorich and Philippa Penrose.

We awoke on Tuesday morning to a very thick mist where we couldn’t see any of the fences in the main arena from the clubhouse! However, as they say in showbiz – the show must go on and miraculously the mist did lift somewhat albeit to be replaced by a steady heavy drizzle. The competitors toughed it out and produced some really good tests in less than ideal conditions and hats off to ALL of them, as well as to the 3 judges (Rose Bartlett, Pat Pohl and Gregory Goss) and their scribes who were at out in the arena to judge.

It was great to see at least 1 rider from each of the 4 provinces that had riders entered make it through to the top 8. They were Olivia Myrtle (WC) – 110.5; Hayley Preen (WC) and Lauren Parker (EC) – 107.5; Michaela Machine (GP) – 105.5; Stuart Hofmeyr (GP) – 99.5; Katherine Gees (WC) – 97; Natalie de Wet (KZN) – 96 and Samantha Krenski (EC) – 88. Unfortunately Stuart and Samantha withdrew from the Part 3, leaving 6 riders to swop mounts – not an easy task in the given conditions either.

With only 6 marks separating the top 2 after the completion of Part 3, Olivia and Hayley pushed the competition to a Part 4. This is where a mystery horse is brought in, which is unfamiliar to both competitors (Thank you to Jason Moorcroft for loaning us a horse for this task and thank you to Savannah Gierke for making sure he was warmed up and ready).

Olivia and Hayley drew straws to see who would get to ride first and Olivia was the one who got to go first. This meant Hayley had to sit up in the show organizers box where she couldn’t see how the horse was going for Olivia. As with Part 3, Olivia had 1 minute to get used to the mystery horse, but this time had to include her jump within the minute. She then rode her test. Hayley then got to emerge from her place of “hiding” and she also got 1 minute to get used to the horse before riding her test. The horse proved to be a rather difficult ride and both riders coped incredibly well and after a hard fought battle, Olivia emerged as the SA Junior Equitation Champion for 2013 only 3 ½ points ahead of Hayley.

The final results were:

1st Olivia Myrtle (WC) – 208.5; 2nd Hayley Preen (WC) – 205; 3rd Michaela Machine (GP) – 157.5 (only 2,5 marks behind Hayley after Part 3); 4th Lauren Parker (EC) – 155; 5th Natalie de Wet (KZN) – 146; 6th Katherine Gees (WC) – 122.

The Philip Smith Memorial competition will be an exciting competition to watch in 2014!

By Wednesday the mist had cleared and we were back to a gorgeous summer’s day for the 1.30 Grand Prix in the morning followed by our SA Equitation team championships in the afternoon. Rogan Asken joined Rose Bartlett and Pat Pohl for the judging of this event. Gauteng/KZN drew to go first, followed by the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.

The teams competing for this event were:

Gauteng/KZN team – Chef: Lorette Knowles-Taylor

Stuart Hofmeyr; Michaela Machine; Zoleka Mosiah and Natalie de Wet

Western Cape team – Chef: Penny Lazarus

Hayley Preen; Katherine Gees; Jessica Muller; Olivia Myrtle and Kate Pettit

Eastern Cape – Chef: Diane Botes

Savannah Gierke; Amy Whitehead; Samantha Krenski; Lauren Parker and Jayde Mangold

Four riders are nominated to ride for each team and after the completion of Part 2, the lowest of the 4 scores per team is discarded. The remaining 3 scores are carried forward and the top 2 scoring riders from each team goes through to Part 3, where they draw to swop horses as usual. It was wonderful to see the support for the Equitation riders on the stands for this class where the Eastern Cape emerged the clear 2013 SA Equitation Champions on a final score of 394.5, with the Western Cape in 2nd on 384.5 and the Gauteng/KZN team in 3rdon 369.5.

With all the recent changes within our sport, it was encouraging to see the number of entries in the equitation classes at this show and the young talent coming through.
Congratulations to all those who took part and especially to the prize-winners and a final special thanks to the grooms and to the parents and instructors of all the riders for your support.