Monday, December 7, 2015

Seventh Heaven

I've mentioned previously my affiliation with Pony Club.  For anyone not aware, Pony club exists as a way for young people to get involved with horses, learning to ride and trying out different events.  It provides affordable lessons and the structure and opportunity to advance to anyone who's interested.  There's also a competition called Quiz, which is basically a trivia event on all things horse with three parts.  The first is a written exam (aka the sucky part), the second is tack id (aka i know what this is called but the name isn't on here what the ****?), and the third is an assortment of games (aka how am I supposed to act out splint bone in charades? They just keep guessing leg???). There is a regional quiz held early in the year, and the top individual scores  qualify for the national team.

Anyhow, my regional quiz was back in April, and two friends from my club asked if I would be interested in being on a team with them. It sounded like fun, so they had me talked into it before I knew it. Completely unexpectedly, I found myself finishing fourth in individual in my division and third in team.  Unfortunately, my other team members didn't make the cut, but I quickly found myself whisked off and the senior team were telling me what to expect if I decided I wanted to come to nationals in the fall.

My summer was a lot of riding and otherwise getting ready.  My semi-disastrous testing from back in August was the last piece of the puzzle I needed to attend to to solidify my eligibility.  I bought a bunch of the required reading books off amazon and spent the latter half of the summer and any extra time I had around classes to study.

All that lead up to the big event thanksgiving weekend (Canadian thanksgiving weekend, in case my American friends are confused).  Since my region was hosting, the travel wasn't far, and we got to have 2 teams of 4 members each at the C level instead of just 1.

I arrived at the hotel just before dinner was starting on Friday night, and dropped my bags in my room.  I met one of my roommates, and we headed downstairs to dinner together.  Conversations were a bit stunted amongst the whole group at first, but everyone began to settle in, and I was re-introduced to some of the members I had met once or twice at regional events.  After dinner was line dancing and then everyone headed back to their rooms to regroup, where I met the other two members of my team.  All the members from my region headed upstairs to the senior team's room to cram for the written exam, and there were a lot of flashcards I didn't know the answer to and the official designation of our team's anthem.

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This one. Trust me, it grows on you.

We stayed up hanging out (and some studying) until curfew, and then headed off to bed for the night.  Breakfast began bright and early and then more cramming before the written exam started at 9:00 sharp.  As expected, it was super hard.  If you manage to get a passing grade on written at quiz, you're usually one of few.  There were 'local color questions' about Spruce Meadows, the Calgary Stampede, and the Pan Am games medalists which had very few survivors, but other than that most of the test went okay. I had basically no idea on the questions about the pony club rules of competition, but I did well on conformation terms and came out of written markings 19th overall out of 68 competitors.  My teammates were ranked 1st, 2nd, and 4th.

Lunch and more cramming, this time for tack id.  Tack ID is either a blessing or a curse depending on your experience, and what you have for study materials. Basically, there is a table of fifteen numbered items and a sheet with twenty object names.  At the C level (mine), you have to match ten objects with the appropriate blanks.  At the senior (A/B) level, you have to name all 15.  This category is deceptively difficult because pony club doesn't use the descriptive names (ex. instead of identifying a noseband as a figure-8, you're likely to have to know it as a grackle).  I personally love tack ID, because I have a slight obsession with weird tack. By far the worst table was types of carriages.  I managed to get the sulky and the trolley, which put me ahead of most people.  To say it was the unanimous least favourite table would be an understatement. You're given ten minutes at each table, and I think there were a total of 15 tables, so everyone was starving and exhausted by the time it was all over.

So, we all carted off to Saturday evening's entertainment.  about 150 people all crammed into an arena for beef on a bun dinner and a working cow horse demonstration.  First was reining, and then working a cow.  It's always interesting to see different disciplines, and it was a pretty fun evening.  The night ended more or less the same, with everyone in the region cramming into one hotel room and studying for games.

Bright and early Sunday was breakfast and then waiting for games to start.  As we waited, they posted the initial rankings for team, which are based on the combined individual scores for each team member. Our team was doing well, so going into the games we got to focus on just having fun.  My favourite game was called sculpt it, which was basically pictionary but you had to sculpt the answer out of kinetic sand.  Collectively, our team did really well, and we were feeling really good about our chances by the end of the day.

After lunch was our other outing, this time to the world famous Spruce Meadows.  I've been there before, but it was still fun to have our run of the international ring.  Most of the team, myself included, rolled down the derby bank. It's even steeper than it looks. I couldn't imagine riding a horse down it!

The infamous devil's dike

AB South in the Water Jump

Finally, it was time for everyone to get ready for the big awards banquet. Our region coordinated, so we all had red and black on. The dinner was the best one yet, and before I knew it, the awards were starting.

The placings were announced, starting with the A/B division individual.  Our region did really well, with a few placing in the ribbons! Then it was time for the individual C placings.  The ribbons started at tenth, and it wasn't a long wait before I found myself accepting the rosette for seventh place in individual.  I was thrilled (but not technically surprised, since I had found out when they posted the placings earlier, but I would have totally ruined the suspense of the blog post if I'd said so earlier)!

And I'm modest, too

My team also fared well, with my teammates placing fourth, second, and first! It was awesome to work with such brilliant team members! Plus, the other Alberta south C team placed sixth.

Finally, the announcements came for team, and my team came first! We all got keeper plaques, grooming bags, and of course, red ribbons.

They posted initial team rankings before games started, and since our team was all in the top ten individually, we were ahead of the second place by 25 points, which is not insignificant at quiz.  Most of the differences in individual rankings were by tenths or hundredths of points.  Individual points contributes to the team score, but games don't count towards individual. By the end of games, our team came out ahead of the second place team by 27 points.  It was an amazing experience, especially for my first trip to national Quiz.

After my whirlwind first national quiz experience, I have all you wonderful bloggers to thank. The big benefit of following and reading the blogs of so many of you wonderful people is that I hear all kinds of tidbits specific to the various disciplines you all represent.  I was one of the people who recognized the Tevis Cup as an endurance race rather than a flat race on the written thanks to people like Saiph, and I knew a liverpool bit, and a driving apron thanks to Andrea, and countless other little facts thanks to my continued obsession with reading everything y'all have to say.  But probably bigger than any other specific influence, I want to acknowledge the pure awesome that is the Braymere Custom Saddlery Blog and its insane amount of reference material.  A weird obsession with tiny plastic horses is a huge asset for any national quiz hopefuls reading this.


  1. Congratulations! It's neat to read about how much Quiz has changed since I was a Pony Clubber!

  2. wooo hoo congrats!!! also how cool to tour around spruce meadows like that

  3. What a cool recap! Congratulations on your placings!

  4. Well done! Love your purple ribbon