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Mitchell and Whittlesea riders shine at Mounted Games

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By Colin MacGillivray

TWO teenagers from Mitchell Shire and the City of Whittlesea are in the running to represent Australia after competing for Victoria at the Prince Philip Mounted Games national championships in Canberra last month.

Willowmavin’s Seren McKeever and Eden Park’s Ryan Bissicks were part of a five-person junior Victorian team that competed at the championships, finishing second.

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Seren and Ryan have enjoyed plenty of success in the sport of mounted games – an equestrian competition inspired by the late Prince Philip in which fast-paced games requiring skill and coordination are played on ponies.

Ryan, a student at Kilmore’s Assumption College, teamed with Seren to take out the under 15 section of the Australian Pairs Championships in Albury at Easter.

The pair ride through Pony Club Victoria, with Seren training at Woodlands Pony Club and Ryan representing Yarrambat Horse and Pony Club.

The Victorian team celebrates together. ​

Seren’s aunt Niree Weybury, also a Willowmavin resident, was team manager of the Victorian team at last month’s national championships and said the pair rode brilliantly.

“The junior [team] came second and they were all on borrowed ponies, so they didn’t know the horses,” she said.

“They got on them the day of the competition and they had about five minutes to familiarise themselves with those horses. They rode four races on that set of horses and then swapped to another set of horses.

“To race a horse you’re not familiar with and to race it well, you’ve got to be very skilled. These kids are really knowledgeable and all very talented.”

Ms Weybury said Seren and Ryan had ridden horses for nearly their entire lives and trained hard for the competition.

“Seren has been riding since she was about two. She pretty much rode before she could walk. Ryan was much the same,” she said.

“They’ve both come from horse families, so they’ve been around horses their whole lives.

“They train fortnightly and it’s an intense training process. The horses need to be fit and the kids need to be fit.

“It’s nice to watch them develop and improve until they get to that level and then be able to succeed at that level.”

Ms Weybury said Seren and Ryan each had a chance to represent Australia after their strong performances at the national championships.

“Pony Club [Australia] has an international exchange program, which Seren and Ryan are both eligible for next year,” she said.

“They choose one rider from each state and that forms the Australian team. Next year’s competition is in Austalia so it’s not as exciting, because they don’t get to go overseas, but every second year they can go to Italy or anywhere else in the world that competes in the Prince Philip Games.”

Ms Weybury encouraged more people to take up the sport of mounted games.

“It’s such a fast-paced sport – it’s not like dressage where you do circle work and sit up all pretty, it’s flat-chat racing. It’s lots of fun,” she said.

“You make so many friends and get so many opportunities. It’s sad that it’s not an Olympic sport, but it is an international sport, so these kids can go all over Australia and all over the world.

“And you need to be a skilled rider. Not everybody can do what these kids do.”

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