What a difference a year makes.
The July of 2017 seems such a long time ago now for Jeannie Pearce, Paul Cofield, Jennie Graetz and Barb Chenoweth.
The Albury Wodonga Adult Riding Club members were newcomers to navigation riding, and the TTT event held at Eldorado was only their second and third navigation ride ever.
“To say we were surprised (but thrilled) with our win was an understatement,” Jennie Graetz reflected.
So, with some trepidation, the team decided to jump in the deep end and accept the task of organising the 2018 TTT Navigation Ride.
If riding at a leisurely pace with a friend through state forest or a national park sounds like a fun equine activity, then this indeed may be a sport you are interested in, explains Ms Chenoweth.
It was developed by the Horse Riding Clubs Association Victoria (HRCAV) with an interclub “Top Teams Trophy” each year to decide which club has the best riders and clue solvers.
“A team consists of four riders which go out in pairs: one on the “short ride” (about 15km), the other on the “long ride” (about 25km). she explained.
“Each pair is given a sheet of tricky questions, which they are to solve on the way around their ride.
Questions may be anagrams, cryptic clues, word plays ... it really depends on the creativity of the clue writer.”
The clue sheet includes directions, which must be carefully followed to avoid getting lost with an optimum time set for the course, according to Ms Chenoweth.
“The challenge is to ride to the rate and answer as many questions as possible,” she said.
“The pairs with the highest number of correct answers combined with any time penalties are the winners.
“All breeds of horses are used for these competitions, they just need to be able to go at a steady walk and trot.
“A sharp eye and a good sense of humour also helps, especially when the weather is inclement.”
The Albury navigation ride sub-committee travelled many miles, rode in spectacular scenery and on some occasions in quite challenging conditions, endeavouring to learn the ins and outs of organising navigation rides.
Given the Albury-Wodonga Adult Riding Club grounds are based at the Albury-Wodonga Equestrian Centre – in the middle of the city – it was neither a suitable or safe spot for navigation riding.
With the support of Indigo Adult Riding Club and the Chiltern Racecourse committee, the Albury club hired their grounds, which provided a more suitable location for the 2018 TTT navigation ride with access to the beautiful Chiltern Mt Pilot National Park.
It did mean a lot of travelling and transporting gear and supplies but it also made for an easy drive up and down the freeway for competitors from the north and south.
The event date of July 22 arrived with fine weather; no frost, rain, or wind to be seen.
“We were happy to have 98 entries, a lot more than anticipated and with only 4 scratchings, we had 94 competitors ride on the day,” Ms Graetz explained.
“There were 21 teams; 21 pairs in the long ride and 26 pairs in the short ride.”
Thanks to the many and mighty volunteers on the day, the event ran smoothly.
No riders got lost, and there were no falls or injuries, according to Ms Graetz.
“The first riders rode out just after 8.30 am and the last pair returned at 3.31pm,” she said.
“Thanks to the preparation and technical skills of Barb (Chenoweth), the final scores were posted by 4:30pm.
“There were some laugh-out-loud moments in the scoring tent, with some pairs writing some very witty answers to clues that they couldn’t find.”
The event attracted 32 sponsors – including major sponsors Mitvavite and Horse Deals as well as support from the Albury and Indigo Shire councils.
Ms Graetz added there was a fantastic outreach of support from not only AWARC members also volunteers from the Wagga, Benalla and Yackandandah clubs and long-suffering family and friends.
“A thank you must also go to Karen Slade from Event Secretary for her enduring patience and organisation with the program, entries, and draws,” she added.
“Lee-anne Holmes arranged the raffle, with wonderful prizes to 10th place.”
YARC’s The Happy Yackers team took out this year’s event overall.
“We were thrilled a North East team took the honours and wish you every success should you take on the 2019 ride,” Ms Graetz said.