(first printed in the December 2012 issue of The Equiery)
Pony Club Mounted Games competitions have been a part of Fair Hill International for years. Nationally, the USPC games program was created to provide reinforcement of the riding skills taught through pony club but in the more relaxed environment of the games field. Games players often become more confident riders as they learn balance from having to vault on and off their ponies as well as lean down to grab cups, toss bean bags into buckets and thread needles through tiny holes… all while galloping at top speeds.
Participants in the annual President’s Cup are selected at the Pony Club National Championships held in July. The top teams, made up of five ponies and riders, are then invited to compete at Fair Hill for the President’s Cup trophy.
The Starbursts, made up of Michaela Fehn, Laura Gustafason, Katie Williams, Kara Burke and Quin Winkler, earned the President’s Cup trophy this year. Team members represented the Metro, New York and Upper Connecticut regions. Second place went to the Wild Things from New York and Upper Connecticut regions. The team was made up of James Iarusso, Emily Savino, Emiala Blakesless, Corrina McKelvey and Carlie Poworonznek.
The lone representative from the Free State was Stephen Pancrazio of Boyds. Stephen played as part of the Lucky Charms team from Virginia, New York and Capitol regions along with Margot Miller, Madeline Waalach and Olivia Borta. Their team finished in third place.
With his 16-year-old roan paint pony Cobweb, Stephen is a C2 with the Seneca Valley Pony Club. Cobweb is a veteran games pony having competed in the President’s Cup and the Prince Philip Cup (held at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event).
Stephen has been playing games for 11 years, having started when he was only five years old. He has competed at the USPC Championships in 2009 through 2011 and played on a President’s Cup team in 2010 and 2011. He says his favorite game is “Ball and Racket” because it takes a lot of hand-eye coordination, patience and precision.