WA Mounted Games Team @ Equitana

by Casey Booth & photos by Kylie Hall

This year’s Equitana held at Flemington Showgrounds invited the Australian Mounted Games Association (AMGA) to hold a Nationals team championship over the 4 days of the show. The competition was structured as a 5 session event with the first session on Thursday Evening, then Friday morning, Saturday lunch and Saturday evening plus a 5th and final session on Sunday which scored more heavily than the initial days.

The active states in AMGA are New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia and each was invited to send a team along. Due to the distances involved for the travel, both Queensland and Western Australia were offered ponies to borrow and compete on, however Western Australia decided to show case their own ponies and travelled them across the Nullarbor.

The competition at Equitana is always special as although each team goes there to win they also go to demonstrate the benfits of the sport. The community within AMGA is such that most people know of each other and everyone is really welcoming. The atmosphere is so positive that when ponies were moving into the showgrounds you would not be able to pick which rider represented which state as the environment is so friendly and inviting.


Above: Nerida Evans riding Bullzeye

WA was represented by five riders, Casey Booth, Tegan Court, Nerida Evans, Tommy Gliddon and Dan Foster. Along with the riders there was the all important support crew which was four parents, Karen Booth, Maxine Court, Kylie Hall and Melissa Gliddon. The vice president of MGA WA, Marc Fraser, was also there to represent the Western Australian committee. The five ponies on the team were Diva, Bullzeye, Ringo, Foxy and a borrowed pony from Victoria called Scarlett.

The trip from Western Australia to Victoria is about 4 days which includes stops every 4 to 5 hours during the day, and every night.  3 of the 4 WA ponies have experienced this trip before. At the end of the trip East the team and their ponies spent 2 days at a cattle farm just north of Melbourne where the ponies had a well-earned short rest in lovely green paddocks.  They then spent 2 days in Werribee fine tuning the team before the big competition, also fitting in a day visiting the Werribee Open Range Zoo, which was great bonding time.

From the very first race of the competition Western Australia was very competitive, it is a rare thing for a WA team to compete at a Nationals competition fielding a team of their own horses, so it was good to really show that the standard in WA was so high. ┬áDay 1 was close racing with WA finishing in 2nd place to SA, the next three sessions awarded WA with two wins and another second place.  WA was considered the team to beat going into the finals on Sunday. After a solid start, WA’s lead looked like it was theirs, however a strong comeback from SA and Victoria meant that going into the last two races the three teams were very close. In the end, Western Australia managed to storm home with a very comfortable 9 point win.  

Right: Casey Booth and Dia

Above: Dan Foster and Foxy

Equitana is a special opportunity as it is the one chance games riders are put in front of an equestrian crowd to share the sport and the dynamic skills that go along with it. The crowd was very involved and the support was really appreciated. During each days competition the horses were rested after every few races and during this time you could see where all of the state supporters were and the team absolutely loved the Western Australian contingent cheering them on throughout the event.
The Western Australian Mounted Games Riders who competed at Equitana would like to thank Lou Collins of Saddle Fit Australia, who not only attended to the saddle fit of the ponies, but also did a thorough check over of the ponies prior to travel. They would also like to thank Scott McNamee from West Sate Embroidery who sponsors most of the WA events in some respect or other but he also had the team saddle blankets embroided and presented to a high standard and, lastly, the riders would not have been there were it not for the support crew who were the drivers, chefs, cheer squad, photographers, motivational speakers and every other job that makes the real difference between winning and losing.

As this is being written the team is all now home and the ponies are having a rest over summer,  and the team is looking forward to the next season of games. MGA WA invite all interested people to look the club Face Book page or contact secretary Sue Forbes on info@mgawa.org.au for details on joining and participating in this very exciting sport.