Spectacular is how Mariah Chapman described helping Canada win the coveted Inter Pacific Exchange Nations trophy.
The Naramata resident teamed up with four members of Pony Club’s across Canada that defeated host New Zealand, Australia, United States and Hong Kong.
The Inter Pacific Exchange takes place every two years around the Pacific Rim and started in 1962. Chapman was away with the Canadian team from April 29 to May 16 and they competed on unfamiliar horses.
“To be able to compete on horses that we didn’t know with like an hour of preparation on them was pretty cool,” said Chapman. “The way they ride over there is a little different than how we ride here.”
The soon-to-be 18-year-old said many of the riders they competed against are at star one and two level in Eventing or Horse Trials. Chapman is at Level A in Pony Club levels which goes from A to D.
Chapman said three-day eventing is popular in New Zealand, which has more events at different sites than Canada.
“The riders are very competitive, but the regulations aren’t as strict, which enables a lot more people to compete,” she said. “We walked a three-star cross-country course one of the days, the jumps are huge and level of difficulty is definitely world-class. ”
Chapman’s mother Sheila Taylor accompanied the team as a chaperone and is proud of her daughter’s accomplishment.
“Pretty impressive to see their whole team hop on horses that they didn’t know and all have clear rounds when none of the other countries were able to do that, ” said Taylor.
What stood out to Chapman about the competition experience was the exposure to the different styles of riding and the benefits that they can have on different horses. It also gave Chapman the chance to build contacts.
When not competing, Chapman and her teammates lived with host families in New Zealand and experienced the culture.
During the first week, they stayed at an outdoor centre called Makahika in Levin. The second week at a lodge called Karapiro, located on the northern island.
Understanding the language proved a challenge for the Canadians.
“For the first couple days none of us except for the Aussies had a clue as to what the Kiwis were saying, but we eventually got used to it,” she said.
What Chapman enjoyed most of the experience was the scenery as they enjoyed some hot streams similar to those in B.C. Chapman also did a six-hour orienteering hike in the mountains.
“It was amazing to see the different plants and trees,” said Chapman. “At Karapiro, my favourite experience was when we went black water rafting in a cave. We were able to see the glow worms on the ceilings and we learnt about the ancient Maori remains that were discovered in that cave.”
Chapman thanked everyone who helped support her trip by buying raffle tickets, and offering raffle prizes. She also thanked Greyback Construction, Home Hardware and the Hooded Merganser Restaurant for their generosity.