GREENHILL, N.S. — As soon as the school bell sounds, Emily Maynard is ready to leave, eager to get to Fox Hollow Stables and see Roger.
The 12-year-old West Hants Middle School student has been riding for about six years, and has helped train Roger, a roan pony, from the outset.
And this weekend, she’s travelling to Ontario to compete with Team Nova Scotia at the Prince Philip Games.
“I’m really proud; I’m really excited,” said Maynard of being selected for the team.
Maynard, a member of the Avon Pony Club, will be joining four other riders, aged 15 and under, as part of the team.
According to the Canadian Pony Club, PPG is named after Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who donated the original Prince Philip Cup in the 1950s to the British Pony Club. He later granted permission for Canada to host its own Prince Philip Cup, which is awarded annually to the best pony team in the country.
The PPG sees teams compete in a series of relay race challenges, similar to popular childhood races like the egg-and-spoon race and sack race. The only difference is, these races involve ponies.
When asked what she likes best about PPG, Emily said: “Getting on and off the horse is pretty fun, and making them go really fast.”
With the Avon Pony Club, she trains under the guidance of Mary Henry and Maddie Singer for the PPG, and with Alissa Cue, who is Nova Scotia’s PPG discipline contact and the district commissioner of the Evangeline Pony Club in the Valley. Jill Redden, of Fox Hollow Stables in Greenhill, coaches her after school with a focus on the hunter rider level.
Maynard’s mother, Michelle Maynard, will be chaperoning the trip and says she’s excited to see how far her daughter has come since expressing interest in riding as a child.
“I’m very proud, (it’s) very exciting for her. She’s put in so much hard work and she absolutely loves pony club, she loves her pony — she loves all ponies. She’s infatuated with them,” she said.
“I foresee this as a lifelong thing,” Michelle Maynard said of her daughter’s interest. She noted that Emily wants to ride every day and even secured a job cleaning a nearby stable.
“I, myself, never had a pony nor fantasized about having a pony but she definitely is in love.”
Redden, who has coached Emily from the early days of learning how to ride to competing as a hunter rider, leases Roger to Emily and says they share quite a bond. Although she doesn’t coach Emily with PPG, she says Emily has a natural ability when it comes to riding.
“Not very often do you have a young rider that is that involved in the development process of a pony. He was fairly inexperienced when he came here and she went through all those trials and tribulations with him,” said Redden.
“She has a fairly natural way about her on a horse.”
Redden said she’s proud to see Emily shining in the PPG side of things and says the sky is the limit on what she could do if she puts her mind to it.
“It’s a good opportunity for a good kid,” Redden said.