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Sun., Aug. 30
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Horses, riders compete in Norfolk triathlon


NORFOLK — Horses and riders were put to the test in Sunday’s Concours D’Autumne at Plumbrook Pony Farm, 1113 County Route 38.

The triathlon is designed with learners in mind. The event, not officially sanctioned, is more about fun than competition, said farm owner Kathleen McGinnis. The 33 participating riders ranged in age from 12 to over 50.

“That’s what’s ideal about eventing; you can do it forever,” Mrs. McGinnis said.

Dressage was the first competition. Every rider had to lead his or her horse through a specific set of steps, and was judged on how the horse obeyed.

“It’s precision. You need to be very precise with your movements,” said Christin E. Powers, a contestant from Canton. “It’s like dance on horseback.”

Once dressage was over, it was time for cross-country, the most popular event of the day.

“I say that I have to get through dressage to have fun,” Ms. Powers joked.

A course with natural and man-made obstacles was set up around the farm, and contestants had to ride, jump and wade their way to the finish line.

“People get a real rush out of riding and jumping cross-country. That’s the big draw,” Mrs. McGinnis said.

Unlike dressage, which has routines riders can memorize beforehand, the challenges faced on a cross-country course are a surprise. Contestants walked the course before the ride to familiarize themselves with the obstacles they would encounter that afternoon. Cross-country was weighted highest in the final scoring, so all the participants wanted to make sure they did well.

“You can just go, and just jump. Nobody’s in the ring with you; it’s just you and your horse,” said Laura E. Cook, 16, Massena.

The sense of independence is what makes cross-country so appealing. Plumbrook Pony Farm offers one of the only cross-country events in St. Lawrence County.

“It’s quick, and you’re just alone by yourself. You don’t really have anyone else telling you what to do,” said Molly M. Broderick, 15, Massena.

The day ended with a stadium jumping competition inside the ring. After the triathlon was over, the points were tallied and the winning riders were awarded ribbons.

Plumbrook Pony Farm, a U.S. Pony Club Center teaching English riding, has two major events every year; the next will be in the spring.

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