Posted Aug. 19, 2007, in the Sports category of Town Square by Lisa M. Krieger of Portola Valley.
A team of young riders led by Courtney Claunch of Los Altos and Kirstin Hill of Menlo Park captured the first place title in Training Level Dressage at the 2007 U.S. Pony Club National Championships in Lexington, Kentucky.
Claunch and Hill, joined by Hannah Rice of Montara and Kaitlin Sally of Arroyo Grande, won with a margin of 30 points above the second place team's results.
The team, which ranged in age from 12 to 21, traveled to Lexington, Kentucky with their horses to compete in the event. They fundraised at local competition to earn money for the event, and received additional financial assistance from Portola Valley equestrian Bill Lane.
Representing the Middle California Region of the U.S. Pony Club, they competed against 24 other teams made up of the top riders from the United States
In additional to their team's award, Courtney Claunch and Kirstin Hill each won a first place medal for their individual performances, riding against nearly 100 other competitors.
"I truly had the ride of my life that day,'' said Hill, 21, aboard Limerick, owned by Jef and Katie Graham of Portola Valley. "We hit every transition perfectly. I cried after my ride even before knowing my score because I knew we had done our all-time best."
The team stayed on for the USPC Festival 2007 where they participated in Dressage, Show Jumping, Cross Country and Fox Hunting clinics at the famous Kentucky Horse Park.
The United States Pony Clubs, Inc. (USPC) was founded in 1954 as a nonprofit national youth organization to teach riding and horsemanship through educational program. Many of the nation's top equestrians, including our Olympic team members, have Pony Club roots.
Members range in age from as young as 4 through age 25. Activities are English-riding based, and members ride both horses and ponies, depending on the size of the rider and discipline in which she or he is competing.
Pony Club competition is team competition, much like the Olympic games, where members learn the importance of cooperation and team work.
For more information on the USPC go to http://www.ponyclub.org .