Local equestrians did the South Coast and their respective schools proud at the South African National Equestrian Schools Association Nationals that concluded in Pretoria on Saturday.
After several qualifying shows throughout the year in which the top four to eight competitors in each discipline earned their place in their provincial schools side, the country’s leading young equestrians from seven provinces converged on Misty Meadows for the sport’s equivalent of the Craven Week rugby tournament.
Rachel Upfold (Tree Top Stables), Caitlin Upfold (Tree Top Stables), Rebekah Shipley (Tree Top Stables), Chanté Buys (Arigato Stables), Nicole Higson (Arigato Stables), Demi Orsmond (Palm Kloof Equestrian Estate) and Chané Dixon (Greenhills Equestrian Estate) formed part of the KwaZulu-Natal A and B schools teams and were eager to impress on the national stage.
They had their work cut out for them as they had to compete in the middle of a sweltering heat wave with each riding class consisting of between 35-60 riders.
Temperatures soared up to 38°C and horses had to be hosed regularly to keep cool. The competition was very stiff and standards were high in what was a wonderful display of riding skills and sportsmanship over three days of competition.
Rachel, an Izotsha Primary grade three learner, competed in Dressage, Showing and Equitation on Miss Muffet.
She won her Working Riding Showing class, placed 10th in the Primary School Prelim Dressage Test 3 class and helped her team finish fourth in the Equitation class.
Her sister Caitlin, a grade six learner at Ethan Christian School, placed third and fourth in her Primary School Novice Dressage tests (her KwaZulu-Natal team placed third and fourth) and also competed in Performance Riding on Espoir Rouge.
Port Shepstone High School’s Rebekah competed in three Showing classes, namely Working Riding, Performance Riding and In Hand Utility, as well as in Equitation and Dressage.
She finished 10th out of 22 entrants in the In Hand Utility Level 1 class, 16th out of 34 entrants in the Working Riding Level 3 class, 16th out of 35 entrants in the Equitation 60cm class, 31st out of 49 entrants in the Dressage Preliminary 4 class and 36th out of 50 entrants in the Dressage Preliminary 3 class.
Creston College’s Demi, riding Silver Secret Knight, represented the KwaZulu-Natal Primary A team in Dressage, Equitation, Working Riding and Show Jumping.
She placed second in the 43-strong Primary Level 1 B Dressage class, fourth in the 45-strong Primary Level 1 A Dressage, fifth in the Primary Level 1 Equitation class (41 entrants), ninth in the Primary Level 1 Working Riding class (42 entrants) and Primary Level 1 Show Jumping class (42 entrants) and 17th in the Primary Level 1 Show Jumping class (42 entrants).
Chané from Suid-Natal High School represented KwaZulu-Natal A and finished seventh out of 35 entrants in the Equitation Level 1 60cm class. She also competed in Dressage, Prix Caprilli, Performance Riding and Working Riding.
Chanté from Port Shepstone High School won the 45-strong High School Show Jumping Ideal Time 70cm class, finished 17th in the High School Show Jumping 70cm competition and 22nd out of 34 entrants in the High School Level 1 Equitation class.
Nicole Higson from Southcity was forced to withdraw from the competition at the 11th hour after her horse suffered an injury.