Pony Club cleans up at regionals

Local team wins horse management and overall team awards

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— The Yampa Valley Pony Club cleaned up last weekend at the U.S. Pony Club Rocky Mountain Region Tetrathlon Rally competition in Parker, winning the Regional Overall Team award and the Horse Management Overall Team award.

The Pony Club is an international junior equestrian organization that teaches English riding and horse care disciplines.

Drawn from young riders across Routt and Moffat counties, Yampa Valley's 23 Pony Club members meet weekly throughout the summer to practice the mounted sport's riding techniques. Adding the tetrathlon events of a freestyle swim, cross country run, and air-pistol shoot to the horseback show jumping makes for challenging multi-sport competitions.

"Tetrathlon tests the dedication, talents and discipline of the competitors. During the many various competitive events, the athletes are continually judged on their horse management skills of caring for and training of their horse," competition organizer Amy Hillenbrand said.Many Pony Club participants have advanced to competing internationally in the modern pentathlon, which adds fencing to the series of events. We're amazed to see such a strong contingent from our region competing so successfully."

The team's practice certainly paid off at the regional championships. Captain of the regional champion tetrathlon team, 17-year-old Holly Hillenbrand qualified to be one of eight U.S. team members to compete in the two-week Tetrathlon International Exchange from July 26 to Aug. 11, starting in Virginia.

"She's a phenomenal rider that's highly disciplined and rides at a high level on pretty intense courses," said Tammie Delaney, Yampa Valley Pony Club parent to Hillenbrand's championship teammates, Liam and Millie Delaney.

Aleigh Aurin, who rounded out the four-member regional championship team, also placed as the Pre-Novice Overall Division Champion, and Cassady Daley won as Intermediate Overall Division Champion.

The Yampa Valley Pony Club's first showing of the season, The Alpine Horse and Rider Hunter and Jumper Show, is open to a public, non-member audience and will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Saddle Mountain Ranch, 8 miles west of Steamboat Springs at U.S. Highway 40 and Routt County Road 44.

-- To reach Dave Shively, call 846-1129

or email dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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