Press release from The International Horse Agility Club 6th January 2011
BRITISH COMPETITORS WIN WORLDWIDE LEAGUE IN HORSE AGILITY
The Horse Agility Worldwide Champion League has just been decided after a finish that saw the Canadians snapping at British heels, but in the finals they were unable to catch the British entries who swept the board.
The titles of ‘International OLHA! Video League Winner’ and ‘Worldwide Competitions League Winner’ were awarded by The International Horse Agility Club on January 1st 2012 to two British handlers and their Exmoor ponies who grabbed the top titles in a close run battle that left the world breathless in admiration.
In the two International leagues, one accumulating points through Internet video competitions points the other for real time competitions, the final places were nail bitingly close as Britain and Canada battled it out for Championship places.
The International OLHA! Video League Winner, generously sponsored by Leasefield Holidays, was Dawn Westcott of Exmoor, Somerset with her pure bred Exmoor stallion Hawkwell Versuvius. Born wild on the moor Hawkwell Versuvius, affectionately known as Bear, has become a familiar face in the show ring as a Champion stallion earning a Gold Medal rosette at the NPS National Championships in 2011. He lives naturally with mares and young stock all year round as well as competing in shows across the country.
Dawn admits that when she started in this new sport she was doubtful that she could work a stallion completely loose over obstacles let alone win the World Championship but her hard work and commitment has paid off. Her video entry showing her directing her stallion over a number of challenging obstacles at liberty impressed the judge especially the hoop jumping at the climax, which was spontaneous and energetic.
The reserve Champion Deborah Pitts and Pedro were a very close second showing remarkable connection as they moved round a course that included, seesaws, jumps and ‘scary corners’. Pedro, originally from South America, was destined for the meat and pelt markets of Italy. After being rescued from the dockside terrified and unhandled he was shipped to England where Deborah put many hours into helping him to become a happy, well trained horse with a great future.
The winner of the Worldwide Competitions League Championship was Susannah Muir with her pure bred Exmoor Pony Threeshires Zanatan (known as Twiggy). Based in Norfolk Susannah only got involved in Horse Agility at the beginning of 2011 and is thrilled to have received this Championship prize generously sponsored by The Saddleryshop.co.uk. Susannah says: ‘Twiggy was bolshy and sometimes aggressive around food… However Horse agility has made her very easy to handle … Horse agility has taught me how to approach new things with a pony to ensure they are confident and do not develop new issues.’
Horse Agility is based on the phenomenally popular sport of dog agility with horses working loose over a fixed obstacle course. The sport has been designed so that everyone can get started by directing their horses using a lead rope but the specially devised levels system trains people and horses as they compete to turn loose and work free.The courses for both the real time and video competitions are set to strict criteria and rules.
With the video entries being open for everyone to scrutinize the judging is very particular as to how each obstacle is scored.Each obstacle is judged in two sections. Five marks for successfully completing the obstacle as per the criteria, five marks for good horsemanship especially a positive relationship between horse and handler. No whips or sticks are allowed just as in dog agility. Emphasis is on fun and safety for all concerned.
Extreme levels are being introduced for 2012 where competitors not only work their horses loose over obstacles in open country but also ride bareback and bridleless over the same course – surely the ultimate in horse human communication.With The Horse Agility Handbook written by the founder of the sport Vanessa Bee, due for release worldwide in late January 2012, and interest globally this is one equestrian discipline that is set to go on growing.The British win has set a standard that the rest of the world will have to work hard to beat.
View the winning entries from the December OLHA! competition.