A TAMWORTH-based school horse sports event which attracts elite young riders from across the state and into Queensland will kick off at the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre on Friday.
The idea came about on the verandah of the Currabubula Pub a few years ago and in its first year had 330 riders across seven disciplines.
Now in its third year, the 2016 Inter-Schools Horse Extravaganza (ISHE) will include 500 riders and 602 horses in a busy four-day program from Friday to Monday.
ISHE secretary Tania Haling, Woolbrook said this year’s event would include students from public and independent primary and secondary schools, with students from Queensland and as far south as Wagga Wagga.
ISHE, which raises money for community groups, schools and pony clubs, is run by a hard-working committee of 11 people.
“We’ve got students from Snowy Mountains Grammar at Jindabyne, and this year some of the elite Sydney schools have come on board,” Mrs Haling said.
“We had 430 last year and entries keep growing.
“We’ve have had to cap it this year to one-horse, one-rider in the show jumping and dressage.”
The event begins with the working horse challenge, sporting patterns and indoor polocrosse on Friday, with the feature event – the one-day eventing – on Saturday.
“We’ll have 260 riders eventing, which includes dressage, showjumping and cross country, from 45 centimetres for the primary school students through to one star for the seniors,” Mrs Haling said.
“On Saturday night we’ve got a dinner the woof and hoof competition where the rider will jump their horse over six jumps, then put their dog through an agility course and the winner is actually judged on audience participation.”
Dressage and show jumping will be held on Sunday, with 1200 rounds of jumping and 750 dressage tests.
The show ring is open for serious competitors, with hack and riding classes on Monday, but a no-frills gymkhana will also be held for those who don’t want to plait up.
”We’ve invited schools to enter students, but we’ve also allowed riders to be independent if their school doesn’t allow horse sports, and about 40 per cent are independent riders,” Mrs Haling said.
It’s a bit more elite than the average school horse sports carnival, with some serious competition, Mrs Haling said.
“These kids could be future Olympians – they’re very serious about their sport.
“There will be kids at ISHE whose parents have been to the Olympics so we’ve got the cream of the crop coming.”