Pony Club beats all odds to win state
Things weren’t looking too hopeful when members of the Vail Valley Pony Club loaded their horse trailers at 4 a.m. recently for the trip to the state dressage rally in Parker. None of the four team members dreamed they would be coming home with gold medals.
Using borrowed mounts and riding injured, Eagle Valley juniors Haley Didier and Lakotah Doig, Battle Mountain freshman Kelsey Jansen and CSU freshman Jenifer DuCray of Grand Junction combined superb horsemanship and equine knowledge with grit and determination to stun the competition – and themselves – and sweep the gold medals.Rally is an intense three-day competition involving a written test, barn management skills, horse care and riding ability. This was the first time the Vail Valley Pony Club had ever competed together, and they faced more than their fair share of challenges. A week before the event, Doig’s horse was injured; Didier’s went lame the day before the rally, so both girls scrambled to borrow mounts at the last minute. The team’s fourth member had to drop out three days before the event, leaving them with the bare minimum number of riders, thus no low score to be tossed out of the team total.
Then, at the rally, Jansen dislocated her knee and had to ride injured.”At any point any one of these girls had plenty of reason to call it quits,” Vail Valley Pony Club head Anna Doig said. “They really showed a lot of character and integrity to go ahead on unfamiliar horses, and in Kelsey’s case, in a lot of pain, and perform so well.”
Earlier this year, the Vail Valley Pony Club also won the state quiz championship, an unmounted competition that tests the team’s equine knowledge. With these accomplishments under their belts, team members are now considering trying to qualify for the national pony club championships next year.
In June, the club received a $300 grant from Wal-Mart, which helped in covering travel expenses for rally.”This is an expensive sport, and the girls work very hard and contribute their own money, but there are always extra expenses,” Doig said. “The community support is very much appreciated.”