A Royal competition
GISELE WINTON SARVIS PHOTO/SPECIAL TO THE ENTERPRISE-BULLETIN Averey May Pritchard, 13, of Stayner, and her Welsh/Warmblood pony MacKay’s Wine N’ Dine came home from the Royal Winter Fair late Sunday night with a 10th place finish in the large pony hunter division. She qualified for the national competition by placing as reserve champion for the same division in Ontario this year.
CLEARVIEW TWP. - Thirteen-year-old Averey Pritchard took in the pomp and circumstance of the Royal Winter Fair with her new pony and cracked the top 10 in the large pony hunter division.
It was MacKay’s Wine N’ Dine’s first time to the Royal with all the lights, cameras and noise, but Pritchard’s second as she qualified in 2015 in the small pony division.
“I was a little bit less nervous this time and I trust this pony more than my last pony. He loosened up as we went on.”
It was a lot to take in for a young competitor and a young Welsh-Warmblood cross pony who loves outdoor rings.
Horses enter the Royal’s ring from a narrow channel with television cameras facing the motorized gate before entering the ring full of spectators and more cameras.
“He was watching the TV. His head wouldn’t move,” said Pritchard.
The Grade 8 Nottawa Elementary School student said she liked going to the Royal to compete, hang out with her friends, watch others compete and shop.
“It’s so much fun,” she said.
She qualified for the national level event by placing second, or reserve champion, in Ontario for the same division, after a summer filled with competitions.
Pritchard had been in first place early in the season but missed a few competitions which resulted in her getting reserve champion overall.
“We were very close to first too,” she said.
Hunter horses and riders are judged on technical aspects of English riding over a series of jumps.
“A slow pace is rewarded,” said Pritchard.
It differs from jumper classes, which are timed, so are therefore much faster.
Since July, Scott Ottewell of Gladstone Farm in Nottawa has coached Pritchard.
“Averey is a very strong competitor. She has tons of commitment. She naturally has a very strong ability,” he said.
What he has been working on with her is more the psychological aspects of competing.
“We’re really working on dealing with the stress and the ups and downs of riding.”
He said often riders beat themselves up for a bad result as opposed to putting that into perspective of the entire season.
Ottewell said he focuses on developing life skills and keeping his riders having a positive mind set.
It worked with Pritchard.
“As soon as I switched coaches every show we either got champion or reserve,” said Pritchard. “He’s calmer and he keeps me calm,” she said.
One of the highlights of Pritchard’s riding season was winning the $5,000 Pony Power Classic Ontario Hunter and Jumper Association’s event at the Caledon Equestrian Park. She scored a personal best of 86 (out of 100) for her ride.
She also scored the highest points in the Angelstone Tournaments in Erin for large pony over the 2017 season.
Averey lives with her mother Christine and father Andy and two sisters Courtney, 20, and Delaney, 17, on their five-acre farm outside of Stayner where they keep their horses.
Averey and Christine look after the horses on the property with daily feeding, cleaning, turning in and out, keeping the tack clean and trailering to the lessons and competitions.
“I like doing it with my mom, not just by myself,” she said.
What Pritchard loves best about riding is the relationship she builds with her mount.
“I like having the bond between you and your horse. It feels good.
“I’m really competitive and I love riding because it’s a very competitive sport.”
Next year Pritchard plans to move up to the junior hunter horse division next year and she has leased a horse named English Rose (Pippa).
Ottewell said it will be transition year but with her determination and her new mount, he anticipates she will go to the Royal again next year.
Pritchard’s long-term goal is make the Canadian Young Riders Team.
Four Simcoe County riders qualified for the Royal Winter Fair this year.
In addition to Pritchard, Bella Weinsein, 16, of Toronto, who trains locally, placed eleventh in pony jumper. She qualified by placing tenth in the regular season.
Victoria Bourne, 11, of Minesing, placed tenth in the small pony hunter division at the Royal and qualified by placing tenth in Ontario, and Jennifer Athan, 15, of Clearview Township had a sixth and an eighth result in pony jumper classes. She qualified by placing second over the season.