300 attend Lawrence Gymkhana Club day

Early start . . . Sam Chapman offers words of encouragement for 3-year-old Willow Chapman on her pony Wembly.


About 300 people arrived for Sunday’s Lawrence Gymkhana Club (LGC) day, an annual equine event even Covid-19 has not interrupted since its inception almost 80 years ago.

The friendly competition was a celebration of basic horsemanship skills — particularly for young riders — featuring novel obstacle and dexterity courses and track races to literally put people, ponies and horses through their walk, trot, canter and gallop paces.

‘‘Gymkhana day started as a fundraiser for war veterans directly after World War 2,’’ third-generation LGC member Phillip Cummings said.

‘‘It’s always a very social event. We really love to see the confidence growing in the smiles of the competitors, and the horses love the exercise and stimulation as much as the riders do.’’

He said he had held every committee role at one time or another, having been involved with the club ‘‘since almost before I can remember’’.

Over the weekend about 90 riders also joined in long-distance cross-country treks taking in the Tuapeka river and historic gold-mining sites in the hill country before converging in 28degC heat to show off their skills in the events on Sunday, where they shared the Gymkhana Club’s grounds with dozens of off-road motocross riders participating in their own petrol-powered events.

Riders were able to show up and register on the day to see if their ability could net some of the many sponsor-donated prizes for jumping, barrel racing, the popular cowboy challenge and a variety of disciplines for all ages, including lead events for juniors as young as 3 years old.

Barring none . .. Millie Tweed (11) and her pony, Fern, easily sail over a barrier in her jumping event at Lawrence Gymkhana Club
day on Sunday. PHOTOS: NICK BROOK