Preparations underway for the Springston Trophy in Southland

Central Southland Pony Club president Penny Frew, left, and competitive rider Sophie Sinclair at the Ryal Bush venue for this week's Springston Trophy.

Kavinda Herath / Tips

Central Southland Pony Club president Penny Frew, left, and competitive rider Sophie Sinclair at the Ryal Bush venue for this week’s Springston Trophy.

Penny Frew says it will be a special occasion for different reasons when the 49th Springston Trophy is held this week at her property in Ryal Bush.

It is the largest pony club event on the South Island. Frew rode there as a young rider and now her daughter, Amelia, 10, competes.

Frew is president of the Central Southland Pony Club which hosts the three-day competition on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“With regard to the pony club in the South Island, it [Springston Trophy] is one of the most prestigious events to win … it’s very difficult to win, ”she said.

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This is the first time the club has hosted the event, although it will be the fifth time the event has taken place in Southland. The last time it was in Southland was in 2010.

Pony clubs from across the South Island will compete with teams of four to six riders under the age of 24 in the disciplines of dressage, cross-country and show jumping for three days.

More than 200 horses, riders and supporters are expected to participate.

The committee has planned to hold the event within Covid-19 level 2 restrictions and has systems in place to make it happen. All teams will operate in their own bubbles, be separate and have their own toilets.

Southland has two competing teams with a total of 12 riders.

Frew had 100 permanent horse parks on the property, 85 of which would be occupied by competing horses next week.

Seeing the 76 hectares she bought eight years ago, now used for a major pony club event, as well as hosting national and international level eventing competitions, was extremely satisfying, Frew said.

The continued help of other horse riding enthusiasts and his family had transformed the property into a well-appointed competition venue.

“I am very grateful for the number of people who gave of their time. So many people have spent endless hours here … it’s amazing.

Frew’s father, John Carmichael, is an international course designer and jump builder. He grazes 120 of Frew’s cattle on his Center Bush farm for two weeks while his farm is set up for the Springston Trophy.

The Springston Trophy has been an annual event since 1971, until 2020, when the event was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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