On Sunday, 19th November, SMGS student Mackenzie Harding and ‘Red’ were selected to ride in the 2018 Sydney Royal Easter Show.

We were provided with a bit of background information on the complexities of selection to compete at the Sydney Royal Easter Show by Ms Sarah Woodhouse, Zone Chief Instructor for the local area (Jindabyne, Dalgety, Cooma, Bombala, Cathcart).

For the last fifty years, there has been a strong pony club involvement at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. The NSW Pony Club Association supports this and they value their ability to give pony club riders exposure to a world-class event. The NSW Pony Club Association is made up of clubs all across the state. Each rider belongs to a club (Jindabyne, in Mackenzie’s case) and each club is part of a Zone.  Ours is Zone 18, which covers the whole Monaro. For the RAS (Royal Agricultural Society, an abbreviation for the show’s organiser), the whole state is divided into areas, of which there are six. We are Area 6, which includes Canberra, Goulburn, Bega, Moruya, and as far up the coast as Lake Conjola. At the Royal Easter Show, the special pony club classes are for team show jumping, some rider classes and sporting. The team show jumping is by far the most prestigious and difficult to get selected for. The horse and rider combination has considerable criteria to meet – none of them easy – and they also have to be at a show jumping level of a metre plus, preferably above the 1.10m level, and the courses are extremely technical. It should be noted that the course builder for the pony club classes at the Sydney Royal Easter Show also builds the world cup classes.

Mackenzie was selected in Queanbeyan at the Monaro Shield competition, impressing the selectors with her attitude, her strong partnership with her horse, and her obvious skill and ability. Mackenzie and Red were joint first in the B grade jumping. The team consists of six riders, of which four will ride at the show, and there are two reserves. Mackenzie was selected as a reserve.

Jindabyne has never had an Area 6 representative and it’s been about fifteen years since Zone 18 had a rider selected.

Of her selection to the RAS team, Mackenzie said, “This has been an amazing adventure this past couple of years and, finally, some hard work has paid off. I am so grateful for all the people who have helped me and supported me because it really is a life-changing sport. I have always wanted to be selected to compete at an event like this but I didn’t expect it to be so soon. When I got my brumby, Red, two years ago, no-one would have thought he could get this far, as he was so young, had never jumped and was a real novice. He is an amazing horse and I am so glad that I own him. Thank you to all my horse-riding friends, the coaches, the SMGS equestrian team and my family, for I am so lucky to have this opportunity.”

The SMGS community wishes Mackenzie all the best as she prepares for the Sydney Royal Easter Show next 23 March – 3 April.