The National Quiz has to be, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most fun weekends we get to do as Pony Club members. Whilst the actual competition was on Sunday 2nd April, we all travelled up on the Saturday and stayed in a hotel in Buckingham.
Saturday afternoon saw us trying to relax (as much as you can before a national championships!) and doing a little bit of team revision / tactics talking before heading to Prezzo in Buckingham for dinner. As per usual we made more noise than all the other restaurant goers combined (all 12 of us) and much laughter was had. It was early to bed for the competitors, including myself who at the grand old age of 24 definitely needs a good night sleep to function properly the next day…needless to say I slept awfully and only managed about 5 hours sleep!!
Whilst this was my 5th time at the finals, it might as well have been my first. It was at a different venue, the lovely Addington Manor Equestrian Centre, with different organisers and room layouts. In previous years the hall allowed for parents and team supporters to sit at the back, this venue didn’t have enough space for that. All three of my team mates, Rose Gibbens, Amelia Thomas and Melissa Small were experiencing the National Finals for the first time. It can be pretty overwhelming the whole National Final thing, but they did both themselves and Lavant proud with their attitude and behaviour.
We got to Addington nice and early and grabbed a good table. We’d had a tip off from Hampshire Hunt (a branch in our Area) that we needed to sit near the front, away from the windows that looks into an arena where the Pony Club Dengie Winter Show Jumping Championships take place. I’m one for getting distracted easily, so decided to place us as far away from those windows as possible!!
The first 4 rounds included; The Pony Club (and ex Pony Club Celebrities), Non Equine Achievement badges, Equestrian Sports and Competitions in the Pony Club, and The Spanish Riding School. The last one if a bit of an interest of mine and Amelia, so we thoroughly enjoyed the excuse to “geek out” with this one.
Lunchtime saw us trying to relax and chill out before going back in for the final half.
We had 5 more rounds after lunch; The Practical Round (identifying various different equine items, this year it was tack) Keeping a Pony at Grass and Worming (which is a pairs round), The Picture Round (this year zoomed in pictures of horsey equipment) Equestrian Sports at the Olympics, and the Music Round. The Music Round was supposedly our weakest round, music to do with horsey TV shows/films/pop music, however we managed a very respectful 21 out of 30, which was one of the highest marks of all the teams.
The scores were written up on a score sheet at the end of the day, and we saw that Team Lavant managed a tremendous 2nd place in the Centre Section, and had the 3rd highest score out of all 29 competing teams!! This was such a massive achievement, especially for Amelia, Rose and Melissa who had never been to the final before.
As always a massive thanks must go to my mum Jane Bissex, and Denise Pattison for all the time, effort and research that you do to enable us to learn everything. It really is a monumental task training the teams and we couldn’t do it without you. Also to mum for making the brilliant collage that we took as our “Mascot”, you were robbed of the “Best Mascot Prize”. Thanks also to Laura Pattison for being our team photographer, all photos in this post are her beautiful creations. A huge congratulations to Amelia, Rose and Melissa to making it to your first National Championships, you all worked so incredibly hard and deserved to be there because of that alone. You are all wonderful ambassadors for our Pony Club Centre and 2nd place at your first National Championships is an outstanding achievement. Thank you also to your lovely parents for bringing you to the final, and for all their support over the last few months.
A final thank you to Kirsty Hubbard at the Pony Club for organising the whole day, to Martin Wright for being the best quiz master we’ve ever had, and the NFU Mutual for the beautiful rosettes and branded Hat Bags we received as a prize.