Mounted games are held to enable ordinary children on ordinary ponies to take part in a fun team competition. The games chosen require courage, determination and all-round riding ability from the rider, and careful, systematic training of the pony. The standard of riding has risen considerably over the last few years, and the speed and accuracy at senior level has to be seen to be believed!
Tack and rider turnout as per the current Tack Sheet. Ponies must be at least 5 years of age and must not exceed 148cm. Riders must be under 16 on the 1st of January. Riders weighing over 54kg, dressed to compete, may not ride a pony 128cm or under. Riders weighing over 60kg, dressed to compete, may not ride a pony 133cm or under.
A team consists of at least 4, preferably 5, riders. These people must have attended at least 3 normal working rallies since 1st of July of the previous year. Team practices or coaching do not count. Categories are as follows:
Under 10’s Must be under 10 on the 1st of January.
Juniors Under 13 on 1st of January.
Seniors Under 16 on 1st of January.
Qualifiers for the juniors and U10’s are held in June/July each year within the area.
The senior teams take part in a league held around the country, with the top 6 teams from the league going forward to the A-final in the RDS. The remaining teams in the league go forward to the B-final and compete for the ‘Pat Malone Memorial Trophy’ at the IPC festival in early August.
As games are very much a team sport it requires considerable commitment from children and parents to play competitively. Attendance at training and travel to friendly competitions across the province are essential for gaining experience. Senior games in particular demand a huge commitment, as the league requires long distances to be travelled. Rider fitness is also of paramount importance, as the games go on for a long time and require considerable amounts of running and jumping from the riders.
Having said all that, the sport is mighty craic and brings on riders a huge amount. It encourages an independent seat and develops a natural sense of balance and timing. Provided the ponies are brought up slowly through the training sessions, rather than missing the early slow lessons and joining when the speed has been increased, they gain confidence and develop good balance and self-carriage. The sharp turns, sudden changes in pace and constant changes of direction soon teach a pony to get their hocks under them and collect themselves.
Every year trials are run for the selection of the international teams. In order to be eligible a rider must have passed their C test and must be under15 on the 1st of January. Once a rider has been on an international team they may no longer ride at Junior games level for their branch. International selection is a massive commitment as the team training sessions are all down the country and attendance is compulsory. Basically you would be away training every weekend from mid-January until your team is finished competing in the summer. Along with this is the associated expense of international travel. To see the list of games to be played by the different age groups this year check out the Mounted Games page on the IPC website.