Elora teens competing in national dressage competition

Alexis Clark has been riding horses for as long as she can remember.

And this weekend the 15-year-old Elora resident will put that experience to the test at the Canadian Pony Club’s National Dressage Competition in Ancaster.

“I think it’ll just be cool to go there,” said Clark, adding she is hoping for a score between 60 and 70% in the pre-training division.

She is one of two Elora girls and members of the local Mill Ridge Pony Club who qualified for the national competition, which includes two technical tests, one mystery test, one written test, and a turnout score.

Becca Hendrick, also 15, will compete in the starter division. She started riding horses about five or six years ago and does not have specific goals for the competition.

Andre Friedman, the coach of both the girls and manager of Kestavalon Farm where they train just outside of Elora,  said the competition is difficult because no one gets to ride her own horse.

“It’s challenging,” she said, noting both girls should just aim to perform at their best. In a sport like dressage, where riders are awarded marks, the goal is to improve on past results, she added.

Both Hendrick and Clark qualified for this year’s national competition last summer at an event also held in Ancaster. And both admitted to being excited and nervous about the opportunity this weekend. They are the only two members of the Mill Ridge Pony Club  (of about 20) competing in the event.

“It’s fun,” Hendrick said of the motivation to compete.

She and Clark credit Friedman with getting them started in the sport – “she took us to horse camp,” Hendrick said – though the support of their families and an affinity for animals didn’t hurt either.

“I just have always loved horses,” Clark said. “I’d like to do this for the rest of my life. I really like it.”

For more information on the local club visit www.millridge.ponyclub.ca.