When preparing for a sports competition, it's important to make sure the equipment is in order. For most sports, this means setting up nets, checking that balls have enough air or making sure you remembered to bring your bat. But what if your "equipment" was in a bad mood the day of the competition, or if it didn't like the weather that day?
With equestrian riding, winning a competition depends not only on the rider, but on the horse as well. Communication is key, as the South Island School (SIS) riders and winners of the Inter-school Equestrian Challenge confirm.
The competition was fierce, as the four riders from SIS went up against other skilled Hong Kong teams. SIS took the title, followed by King George V School, Discovery College, and German-Swiss International School.
And the competition wasn't the only challenge both riders and horses had to overcome. While the competitors had to ride in blazing hot sun for the morning dressage, by the time jumping started in the afternoon, the weather had turned and the riders were facing a massive thunderstorm. The rain made the conditions so poor that the judges considered postponing the competition. But the Chef d'equip insisted that the show must go on, and the riders and horses persisted, showing the true spirit and determination the sport requires.
Jasmine Khalfaoui and Florence Fu, both 15, and sisters Alanna and Tara Clements (aged 14 and 16, respectively) share their experiences as the members of the champion SIS team.
How did you get started with horse riding?
Jasmine: My mum was a very passionate horse rider and introduced me [to the sport] early on. I've been riding since I was eight years old.
Florence: After my first horse-riding lesson six years ago, I immediately fell in love with it. Furthermore, after placing third in my very first competition, this motivated me to get more involved.
Tara: During our family holiday to Ireland, when my sister was two and I was four, our parents took us for a pony ride. We rode a fat, black pony called Gizmo.
What is your favourite thing about horse riding?
Florence: I love the partnership I have with horses, where we have to trust each other and rely on each other.
Who was your greatest threat in this tournament?
Jasmine: I felt that there was no specific team that I saw as a threat because each team had their strong players. So I felt that each team posed a threat.
What is your ultimate goal in horse riding?
Alanna: Right now my ultimate goal is to be the best rider I can be. I want to continue riding at a high level and be a good rider ... [and] hopefully make the Hong Kong Team!
Who do you think is the star player on the team and why?
Jasmine: There is no such player. I think all of us won the competition together, as [shown by] the results; we couldn't have done it without each other.