Team USA Brings Home Gold

by Ella Groner, USPC “A” graduate Representing the USA as an equestrian in Hong Kong was an experience of a lifetime. As a long-standing member of the United

States Pony Club, I had always heard about the international exchange opportunities USPC has to off er and hoped that one day I could participate. T is past summer was the Inter-Pacifi c Exchange, one of many international exchange programs USPC off ers. T e Inter-Pacifi c Exchange occurs every other year and consists of a dressage competi- tion and the Nations Cup Show Jumping Competition. T e IPE Nations Cup is a tradition that was started in 1969 and currently in-

cludes Pony Clubs from the United States, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. T e host rotates every year, and this year it was held in Hong Kong. T e exchange was two weeks long, and each Pony Club in the program sent four team members, a coach, and a team manager. When I learned about the 2019 Inter-Pacifi c Exchange opportunity in Hong

Kong, I immediately wanted to apply. T e timing was perfect, as I was fi nishing up college and wasn’t tied down to a job yet, and I had recently obtained my USPC “A” rating. I met all requirements -- the rider must be aged 18-25, A or B rated, and an active Pony Club member. I completed my application which required videos of my riding and responses to short answer questions about myself and my Pony Club his- tory/commitment. T en I waited… About a month later, on Christmas Eve, I received a letter in the mail stating that

The evening of the fi rst full day in Hong Kong, Team USA (from left: Nicole Ligon, Kaylee Van Winkle, Ella Groner, Ema Klugman, Cooper Madden-Hennessey and Jana Bankston Ritacco) all dressed up in matching USA outfi ts of red, white and blue, and went off to the welcome din- ner. Dinner was followed by a wonderful boat ride around the harbor to see a light show.

I had been selected to be on the 2019 Inter-Pacifi c Exchange Team traveling to Hong Kong in July! I was so excited to have been selected and was even more excited when I found out that a good friend of mine, and fellow Marylander, Ema Klugman, had also been selected! Kaylee Van Winkle (Ohio) and Cooper Madden-Hennessey (Connecticut) were the other two riders on the team along with Janna Bankston Ritacco (South Carolina) as our team manager and Nicole Ligon (Pennsylvania) as our team coach. I knew we would all have a special experience, but there was work to be done fi rst.... To read the rest of Ella’s article on the IPE Nations Cup, go to!

Before heading to Hong Kong, the team traveled to Coach Nicole’s Fire- fl y Farm in Pennsylvania for training camp where they each had the op- portunity to practice dressage tests and ride some show jump courses.

On a rest day during the IPE, riders from each team headed out on a trail ride starting from the Lo Wu Saddle Club in Hong Kong and crossing into China! The city pictured here is Shenzhen, China.

The teams also had a

chance to spend the day at the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Sha Tin Racecourse and visit other cultural spots in Hong Kong. | 800-244-9580 OCTOBER 2019 | THE EQUIERY | 27

During the IPE Nations Cup, everyone on Team USA stayed focused and all had successful fi nal rounds with the team fi nishing on a score of zero and in fi rst place! Since 1969 when the competition began, the USPC has won the Inter-Pacifi c Exchange only twice before, in 1973 and 2003.

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