Games ponies come in a range of sizes from 11.2hh to the upper limit of 14.2hh. These ponies are renowned for their agility and speed!
A lot of work is involved in the training of a games pony. The ponies learn to turn in tight circles and go into a gallop with little effort. Many games riders practice dressage to help maintain a good seat and control over the pony.
The ponies also have to get used to other ponies coming towards them at speed and to accept a hand over of equipment. Some ponies will find the equipment very strange and they may take some time to become accustomed to their riders carrying strange objects!
The ponies are ridden with the reins in one hand in order to give the rider a free hand to pick up and place down equipment. This is called neck reining. When mounting during a race riders vault on whilst the pony is moving. This can be very difficult to master but saves precious time in a race!
The tack used by the riders is strictly defined in the rules and is not open to individual choice. Most riders prefer to use a flat backed saddle to avoid any injuries whilst vaulting on. The ponies may also wear boots to protect their legs from injuries.
Spurs and whips are totally forbidden, even whilst practicing and warming up for a competition.
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(all photographs copyright of the Pony Express)