The Edge of Freedom Pony Club, based in Ravenna, recently competed nationally for the first time. The national competition was took place July 24-28 at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Va., and included more than 500 competitors from more than 31 regions throughout the country.
The Edge of Freedom Pony Club is part of the Tri-State Region, which includes parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
According to volunteer Stacy Knight of Cuyahoga Falls, the club teaches kids to be self sufficient and hands-on in the discipline of horses.
There are many competitions including dressage, show jumping, polocross, and many more.
Many of the contests are done using horses, but the category "games" is done using ponies. Some examples of games may be races in which the rider must carry a ball on a tennis racket and make it to one end of the course and pass it off to another rider on the team.
"You have to be able to get on and off your horse really fast for these contests," said Knight, whose 15-year-old daughter Emma Knight participated in the competition.
Emma who also resides in Cuyahoga Falls participated in a contest called "Quiz."
"Quiz is the academic challenge of the horse world," said Knight. There are written tests taken in classrooms, as well as oral tests taken out in the barn.
"They have to be able to identify safety hazards and know details about the horse just by looking at it," said Knight.
The Edge of Freedom has riders of diverse ages, ranging from as young as five up to 25 years old.
Members were able to compete with opponents from all over America, including people from California and Alaska did very well at this year's national competition.
One of the quiz teams finished in sixth place while an upper level dressage team finished fourth nationwide. Dressage is somewhat similar to equine ballet in which the horses do graceful tricks.
"Your horse has to be spotless from its equipment, to its teeth, to its backside," said Knight.
Those who do not have spotless horses do not receive high scores.
The Edge of Freedom Pony Club was founded in 2012 and is managed by trainer Shellie Kwitkowski of Streetsboro. This is the young club's first experience with national championships. The club hopes to send more members next year as they move to higher rating levels in different disciplines. For more information about Edge of Freedom Pony Club, visit www.eofponyclub.com or call 330-620-4289.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4163