Bingara, Gravesend, Warialda and Upper Horton has seen riders descend upon their Showgrounds for their annual Pony Camps. Despite the dry conditions, attendance numbers and the excitement levels are still high.
“There was one girl who couldn’t sleep for two nights because she was so excited,” said Ann Lewis, President of the Bingara Pony Camp. “Being at Pony Camp with all your friends and being able to ride all week is the best part,” added Bingara Pony Camp participant and daughter, Alex Lewis.
Alex explains to the Gwydir News how important Pony Camp is for all riders regardless of skill levels because you learn new skills and perspective from the guest instructors. “You learn so much throughout the week, from the start to the end, you improve so much,” said Alex.
Annyka Overton from Walcha is a professional riding coach who is teaching at the Bingara and Warialda Pony Camp. “I love coming to communities like Bingara and Warialda because the kids are fantastic, they’re willing to learn and are so much fun,” said Annyka. “It’s incredible to come back year after year to see the kids grow and evolve; I really am lucky as I love what I do.”
Annyka also spoke about how the Pony Camp is not just developing their horsemanship skills but the camaraderie formed between the kids. “It is kids coming together, parents coming together and the kids become so much more confident where they are sometimes pushed to do things they wouldn’t normally tackle but then they are also supported when things aren’t going well,” said Annyka.
“It’s also really good for the whole family as well especially the parents because it gives them the opportunity to get off their place, even though they may still have to go home and feed stock, they can get together with other parents to chat and relax and think of things outside the drought and the farm.”
Ann spoke about how those who have attended the Bingara Pony Camp will be developing their skills in sporting, jumping, cross country, flat riding as well as campdraft. “We’re the only club in our Zone this year to offer campdraft because Sinclair Munro kindly offered the cattle to practice on,” said Ann.
“The week is intense, but they all love it. When it’s finished, they’re exhausted especially this year as it is hot and dusty and dry compared to other years so despite the less than ideal conditions, the kids still handle it well,” said Mrs Lewis.
“The kids all week have access and exposure to plenty of instructors doing plenty of different things that they wouldn’t have the opportunity at home to learn from,” added Annyka.
Ann remarks at how lucky the Club is this year as a result of generous donations from the community despite the unrelenting drought our region is experiencing. “One family donated $1000 for hay, Coles donated $100, Regional Australia Bank through their community partnership program donated nearly $1800 and parents bring cooking, eggs and other items for the week,” said Ann.
It has made a great difference for everyone who attends Pony Camp and we’re grateful for how the community gets behind us and helps us out.”
Warialda will be hosting the Jamboree on 7th and 8th October where the best 18 riders from each Club in the Zone will compete. The successful riders from the Jamboree will then compete at Zone level before proceeding to State then Nationals.