Member Spotlight

Stories from 2019 USPC Champs Central. Story #1

Our members have returned from Champs, some getting home just last night! We have asked them to share their adventures with us, so here is the first story from Wendy and Ocean: (For this one, get some tissues)

Hi Northwest Region,

Here's a recap of our adventures to, at and from Champs Central to compete in mounted games. It's really long!!

Ocean, Osa and I set off for Colorado on Wednesday, July 31. We wanted to be sure that everyone had a few days of rest and acclimating to higher elevation. We also thought it prudent to have a few extra days in case there were unplanned set-backs.

We spent over a month preparing. Neither of us had ever traveled this far with a pony and had never hauled out of state. I reserved horse motels and people hotels. Got all the paperwork and health certificate for Osa. Calculated mileage, hay, food, and water. Safety checked trailer and truck. Ocean texted and face timed with her team mates. Coordinated outfits and order of go for each game. We were ready.

We left at 6 am for the first leg of our 12 hour drive that would put us in Twin Falls, ID for the night. We made it just fine. Tucked everyone in and crashed. Left at 7 the next morning. Stopped in Dutch bros for much needed coffee and got high fives from the employees for maneuvering a 3 horse trailer through the drive thru!!! Then we set off for Parker.

About 2 hours into Wyoming my phone starts exploding so we pulled into a rest stop to check my messages. I had 25 text messages about VSV. We knew about the VSV before leaving but most of the cases were far away from where we were going to be so decided it was worth the risk. How quickly things change! We were notified that new cases were popping up near the horse park and that travel restrictions were changing rapidly. The riders from Missouri were worried that they would not be able to return with their horses. Missouri was requiring any horse within 10 miles of a verified case to be put in 30 day quarantine before returning. Two riders from the other Jr. modified games team had instantly dropped out leaving one team of 5 and one of 3. I called the state veterinarians from Colorado, Idaho and Washington along with our personal vet to find out how we would be affected by the outbreak. We sat for about 90 mins trying to decide whether or not to turn around. We were 3/4 of the way there and my mother was flying into Colorado the next day. We decided to go ahead and Ocean volunteered to switch to the 3 person team.

We spent the next few days running around and buying Ocean's outfit for the new team. Everything we brought was the wrong color for the new team. We also stocked up on hand sanitizer, lysol and fly spray to keep the pony safe and cootie free.

Haul in was frantic. Half the kids were going to be riding local ponies that they had never seen. The ponies weren't ready. Some were struggling to get last minute vet checks others needed farrier work. The kids were given 90 mins to practice. Unfortunately, because some of the ponies weren't ready, our new team got 15 mins practice before barns closed for the night.

The next morning all the riders and ponies were ready to go. They trotted into the arena looking spectacular and ready to do their best. The second game in, Ocean took a bad fall off her pony. She got tangled underneath him and I watched in horror as he stepped on her stomach. I stood by the fence watching, waiting and barely able to breathe. The EMT asked me to come on the field. Her right arm hurt and she couldn't lift it. I asked that they check her abdomen before they moved her. We lifted her shirt and palpated. Nothing!!! OSA stepped but didn't put any pressure on her. She said she never even felt him step on her. The EMT thought her shoulder might be dislocated so I loaded her in the truck and headed to the ER. Bless her. She was disappointed but never cried. She took it all in stride.

I went back to x-ray with her and the minute the picture popped up on the screen, I could see the break in her upper arm. It was compound but thankfully, it was below the growth point. My heart broke for her. She worked for 9 months and paid for the entire trip herself. It hurt to watch all her hard work end like this. I told her it was broken. Still, no tears. She just smiled and said, "How long until I can ride again?" I laughed. Then she said, "Good news! No dishes or changing cat litter."

We went back to the ER room and waited for the doctor to return and tell us the extent of the damage. I knew it was too high to cast. They put her in a sling and ace bandages and told us to make an appointment with the pediatric orthopedic surgeon when we got home.

Our hotel was right across from the hospital. I asked Ocean if she wanted to go back and lie down or if she wanted lunch. She looks at me and says, "I'd like to get something to eat and go back to the barn." I looked at her like she had 4 heads. "Are you sure??? Have you lost your mind?"

"I'm fine, Mom! I want to check on Osa and go back to my team." She said.

"Ok. If you promise not to do too much and it's ok with the HM Judge, you can go back." I said. I wanted to tell her, "No!" I was secretly hoping HM would throw her out of the barn. Nope!!! She hung in the rest of the day and did what she could with one arm. 6am Wednesday, she's back at the barn helping the team get ready.

Her team took second (only two teams) but Ocean was awarded (by unanimous decision) the Frances E Pitts award for horsemanship, leadership and sportsmanship. Her name will be engraved on the cup in Kentucky.

Then I got a call from my husband. He booked a flight to Colorado so that he could help pack us up and drive home.

Ocean's pony, Osa was a rock star at the international mounted games exchange. He was picked by Great Britain and Ocean was thrilled to get the team Britain saddle pad. They came in second out of 4.

When we got back to the barn, both Jr. Modified teams surrounded Ocean and hugged her. They gave her a beautiful get well soon card and a pony club C4 belt. The moms all came and gave me a hug and I cried... Lots!

It wasn't an easy trip. It certainly wasn't what we had expected. It was full of obstacles and hardships. It was what pony club is all about. It was camaraderie (parents and kids). It was coming together as a group to tackle challenges. It was teamwork. It was tenacity. It was building friendships that will last through years and distances of thousands of miles. Neither of us would change a thing. Ok, none of us want our kids getting hurt but we know it's going to happen in this sport. However, her getting hurt showed us just how much love a group of strangers can have for one another in a few short days when the only thing that binds them is a common sport and a national organization. I need a t shirt that says, "Pony club proud!"

My incredible husband got us home safe. The trip home was wonderful and almost completely uneventful (except for the stabilizer bars breaking from Wyoming's horrible roads but we just pulled them off).

Ocean went to Mary Bridge Tuesday. The break is healing and will not require surgery!!! Her doc was a horse person and said she can probably ride in 3 weeks as long as she takes it easy and has a really good horse. My friend is a pediatric PT and is giving her exercises that all revolve around grooming her pony. Life is good.

Wendy Music

Mother of Ocean

Stories from 2019 USPC Champs Central. Story #2

Janie & Jasmine

We got home last night finally. The trip there and champs were a blast! It was just the trouble with our truck getting home that was difficult. Janie Philipp

From Jasmine:

This year at champs I had a ton of fun competing and meeting new people. I competed on a three member team for dressage with my horse Ella. My teammates were from the Red River Region in Texas. The funny thing is that they were enjoying the 85 degree weather since their summer weather is usually in the hundreds. Being from the Northwest, I on the other hand was making a puddle of sweat everywhere I went.

The first day of competition came and after our first ride a thunderstorm hit us which ended up causing our second ride of the day to cancel. All eight of us decided that instead of cancelling the second ride altogether, that we would ride three times the next day. So the second day came around and we rode two tests back to back and then finished off with our freestyle a couple hours later. Ella was great having traveled across several states to compete. She is only five and we did have some “baby” moments but overall she tried her best and I couldn’t have asked any more from her.

My other horse Juniper came along as well to be used for the mounted games exchange riders. She hauled great and waiting patiently for Thursday to come around for the competition. Those of you who have met Juniper know she is a very spunky and crazy kind of pony. She loves to go fast and she loves a rider who can go fast with her. She was selected for the Australian team and got a cute saddle pad to go with them. She was excellent for the speed events but got a little impatient for the more technical races. Overall she was very good and loved the more advanced riders on the teams. They were the best at vaulting onto her and maneuvering around even with her wild attitude.

Overall champs this year was fantastic and so much fun. Even with all the virus restrictions causing some panic we were able to get to and from Colorado safely. Thank you to everyone for giving me the opportunity to compete at such a great facility with some amazing people and horses.

Thank you so much,

Jasmine P.

2019 USPC Champs Central. Story #3
This story is from Brianna,  Jasmine’s sister: 
Hello Pony Clubbers,
During this year’s 2019 Central Championships, I was given the honor to represent United States Pony Club during the International Mounted Games Exchange. Overall the trip lasted a total of two weeks. During those two weeks, I saw and did so much, and I made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. Every person, from every county had a constant positive attitude, and were always kind, fun people to be around. 

Thankfully, I was able to meet all of my teammates in Kentucky, prior to the exchange beginning. Our team coach, Katie Robertson, was able to put together a three day camp for us to practice the games, and get to know each other a bit. I later found out that the other countries didn’t get so lucky. Some of the countries were meeting their teammates for the first time at Denver University, which was the first stop of the exchange.

The first day in Colorado, the Americans arrived first, so we were able to relax in the dorm rooms while we waited for the other countries to arrive. By that afternoon, all the countries had arrived at Denver University. The exchange had officially begun. The next morning we were able to spend more time bonding with all the different teams. We spent the first four days of the trip at Denver University, and we spent our time there touring the area. We went to a museum, an anatomy clinic, and we got to watch the Colorado Broncos practice football. After we had done everything we could in Denver, we took a bus to the YMCA in Estes Park. 

This YMCA was very unique since it was located right next to the Rocky Mountain National Park. It had a beautiful Mountain view, with wildlife everywhere. There, we went on tons of hikes and were even able to go on a trail ride with the horses they had there. We also had a Volleyball Tournament, and a Kickball tournament. We stayed here for about five days before we then moved into a hotel.

Once we were at the hotel, we were able to go watch a polo clinic, go to their local racetrack, as well as go on a foxhunt at the Arapahoe Hunt, (which was so much fun! I got a hothead ottb, which was a little annoying at first, but towards the end I was able to let him full on gallop, which I think was my favorite part of the whole trip.) We also got to see a Colorado Rockies game, and toured the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. We were at the hotel for a total of four days, before we headed off to the Colorado Horse Park, where we would have our final competition.

Prior to competition day, we all helped out with lane judging and equipment for Mounted Games Championships. Before the big day, we did a few fun activities to pass the time. One of my favorite things we did at the horse park prior to competition day was when we raced each other on foot. After helping out with championships, we left all the games equipment out, got into four mixed teams, and began playing the different races they had for champs, on foot. My team came in second place. 

The night before the competition everyone dressed up, and headed off to dinner for the gala. With everyone looking their best, we decided to take tons of photos and half the time there basically just turned into a photoshoot. We stayed at the Gala for a few hours before heading back to our trailers for the night, knowing that some of the kids would be leaving just hours after the competition.

Competition day started off great, we got up early, had a great breakfast, and headed down to the arena to play the games. We were thankfully given a bit of time to warm up on each of the ponies, so we could get a sense of, for example, how well they turned, or how strong their brakes were. When the games finally began, we had a lot of trouble controlling our horses. Since there had been a recent outbreak of VSV, many of the games ponies who were planning on showing up couldn’t. So we had to turn to the local horses to step in for the mounted games ponies. Unfortunately, the amount of ponies there who had actually played mounted games before were slim. So we had to deal with what we got.

Most of the games were ran very smoothly, (except when I accidentally over-vaulted my pony in stepping stones, or when Kali’s horse ran straight through the barrel for bottle). Our team had our ups and downs with the games. We won some races, and we lost some races. When the final scores came out we found out the Australia had come in first, Great Britain had come in second, Canada came in third, and the United States in fourth. 

Even though we placed last, I still had a blast riding all the different horses, and I am so proud of myself and my teammates for making it there. If you had told me I would be doing this a year ago, I would never have believed you. But instead of doubting myself, I practiced, and I practiced, and I practiced. Even when there was a foot of snow on the ground because I was not only determined to make the team, I was determined to do well. I know I wasn’t the strongest player there, but I was definitely a whole lot better than I’ve ever been before.

After the competition, by lunch, half of my team had already left for home. When everyone was leaving, it was especially sad to say goodbye, knowing that it was likely that we might never see each other again. However, we are all staying in touch through social media, and we are all keeping our hopes up that we will cross paths again someday in the future. This has been the trip of a lifetime, and I 100% recommend it to anyone even considering it. Even if you don’t think you will make the team, it’s worth trying out.

Thank you to United States Pony Club for making this possible. It's been amazing.
Brianna P. 


John Filer

Currently located in Oak Harbor, John Filer is a B level member of Whidbey Island Pony Club along with a dual membership with Emerald Hills Pony Club.  John graduated in 2015 from Oak Harbor High School.  He spends most of his time working, riding, and teaching at the WIPC facility.  Assisting younger members when tacking up for lessons, unmounted instruction, and assisting during mounted lessons.  During the summer months he focuses on the intense preparation needed to host the Whidbey Island Horse Trials.  Usually within which he will also compete multiple horses.  His main focus is in Eventing, John is currently competing at the Preliminary level.  John is working towards competing at the highest level he is able to achieve and earning his A certification.  John says that if you can survive your Pony Club certifications you can survive anything.  Those are some of your most terrifying moments in life.  If you can stand there and prove yourself worthy with confidence and articulation you really can do anything.  Pony Club teaches more life lessons than people know.


Anna Horner

On October 20-23, 4 of our Pony Club members competed in the UIPM biathle/ triathle world championships in Sarasota Florida. All four have competed in tetrathlon (running, shooting, swimming, and riding). The UIPM (Union International de Pentalon Modern - or translated in English International Modern Pentathlon Union) is an organization for Modern Pentathlon, which is 5 sports - swimming, riding, fencing, and combined running and shooting. The biathle/ triathle world championships consisted of running, shooting and swimming in individual and mixed relay competitions.

For the Triathle, competitors would start with shooting a laser pistol. You have 60 seconds to get 5 shots in the center. Next, you would run to swimming, take off your shoes, and dive into the water for a 50 meter swim. Afterwards you put your shoes back on to run an 800 meter lap to go back to shooting again. For mixed relay, each partner will complete 2 laps, then tag the other for a total of 20 shots, 2 miles and a 200 meter swim. For individual, each person must complete 4 laps. The biathle is similar, trading off between 1 mile of running and a 200 swim for 2 laps.

Representing the United States and US pony clubs, we had Alexander Guzman, a 19 year old C1 from Bayleaf PC, Sunshine region, Joe Guzman, a 19 year old D2 from Bayleaf PC, sunshine region, Anna Horner, a 15 year old C1 from Maplewood PC, Northwest region, and Zoe LaMonte, a 16 year old C2 from xx pony club, Delmarva Region. All four represented well, Alex earning 3 bronze medals in biathle and triathle mixed relays as well as triathle individual in the Junior Elite division.  Anna earned a bronze medal in individual triathle For All and 4th in triathle mixed relay Youth A Elite division. Zoe picked up a gold medal in individual triathe For All, and competed well in the Youth B Elite division. Joe earned 6th place in For All triathle individual.

Tetrathlon in Pony Club is a very good introduction to Pentathlon, and is a very fun and encouraging sport for all ages. Not to mention tetrathlon is the only sport in pony club where you can catch ride and share the same horse at the championship and international exchange level.

Pony Club members who are interested or are competing in tet are strongly encouraged to move on to Modern Pentathlon, where they can compete at an international and even Olympic level.

Need to pay the Region for an Event? Want to use Pay Pal? Click on the link.  Please add 3% to the total and be sure to tell us who is attending and what event you are paying for.  PAYPAL LINK