6 FOCUS - JULY 2017 be true, but the upcoming Games in New Zealand represent an exception to that rule. “It won’t be possible for us to bring our normal horses,” Leam explains. “So we’ll be ‘renting’ horses for the competition, and have only two rides before it starts.” Caitlin adds, as my eyes widen at this apparently daunting prospect: “It’s easier than you think to adapt to a new pony, if you’ve ridden for a long time. You get to know their personalities – there’s quite a range of those, from sleepy to sassy! – and how they’ll feel underneath you when you ride in an actual race.” And both riders have that level of experience at 16 years old. “I’ve been riding since I could walk,” Caitlin says. “It feels like a natural extension of myself.” Leam’s story is remarkably similar. “I started riding early in life, too,” he recalls. “The interest came through my mom, and also through my Papa (grandfather). He competed in differ- ent Equine Mounted Games, and at 65 he’s still doing it!” Like all athletes, training and practice time both figure in the teens’ weekly agendas. “We train 12 months a year,” Caitlin explains. “Cardio – running and biking – core training for abs, and weights. We ride three times a week on our own, and practise Sundays with the Team.” Their schedules will be especially demanding until November, with fundraising an important element of making the trip. “We’ve had some public support through a Go-Fund-Me site,” says Leam. “We sold flowers and Mothers’ Day baskets earlier this spring, and will have a booth at local fairs later this summer.” Then the focus will shift squarely to the upcoming competition. When asked how Canada has historically fared at the Equine Mounted Games, Caitlin and Leam answer almost in unison. “Canada will do well this year… that’s for sure!” Their youthful enthusiasm bodes well. Adopting and maintaining a positive attitude, after all, makes per- fect sense going into any competition. Perfect horse-sense, that is. Teens Ride Proud (continued from page 4) Caitlin on Canadian Maple. Leam with his best friend and pony, Ronnie. Leam and Caitlin: Passing of the baton. Leam and Caitlin practice one of the events held at the games. By Scott Mercer, Focus on Scugog