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Horsefest features Mounted Games

Hold your horses! The ninth annual “El Kabayo” Horsefest is set on Nov. 18 and 19 at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga with Sheriff Gabby LaO calling all hippophiles, Wild West enthusiasts, sports fans and just plain fun-lovers to rein in on the weekend parade. There’ll be a lot of horsing around for sure and it makes good horse sense to check out what Sheriff Gabby has laid out in what has become one of Clark’s most popular yearly tourist attractions.

The pre-event activities start on Monday with the arrival of various participants and contingents, tours arranged by the Clark Freeport authorities, a horse clinic conducted by the Australian Mounted Games Association (AMGA), practice riding, trail rides, the set-up of the competition venue and the ingress of sponsors, exhibits, designs, displays and merchants.

The special participation of the AMGA is a first in the Horsefest’s history. Sheriff Gabby said the Mounted Games started as a competition for kids and the first Mounted Games Championships were held in London in 1957. Only ponies that measure up to 15 hands or 60 inches in height are allowed in the Mounted Games. Over 20 countries on five continents compete in the World Mounted Games Championships which feature events such as sword lancers, litter lifters, flag fliers, speed weavers, two flag and socks and buckets in team, pairs and individual divisions.

“Mounted Games require a high degree of athletic ability, good riding skills, hand-to-eye coordination, determination, perseverance and a competitive spirit which requires an ability to work together with other riders and a willingness to help one another,” said Sheriff Gabby, quoting from Wikipedia. Sheriff Gabby said the Horsefest’s Mounted Games will be the classic race and relays – hockey race, balloon race, egg and racquet race, Billy Can Relay and flag race, all played while riding a horse.

Sheriff Gabby said another first in this year’s Horsefest is the Kalesa Challenge where ingeniously decorated local horse carriers will be pitted against each other for the grand prize. Another highlight is the harness or Tilbury race, a one-kilometer gallop on a flat surface between two teams on a two-wheeled cart where horses must use a particular gait of pacing or trotting. Other competitions in the program are the Association of Clark Horsemen Hunter-Jumper Cup (an obstacle course of varying 12 jumps with three winners chosen based on time and jump execution), the Barrel Racing Challenge, the Equestrian Ride to Music and the Horse Equitation.

A “state fair” atmosphere will make the weekend event even more enticing for families. There will be a bonfire and marshmallow roasting, a fireworks display by the Department of Tourism, a poker run, a beer-drinking contest, food trucks, unlimited photo ops, prizes for the best Western outfit, the Mad Dog Motorcycle Club’s Miss Cowgirl pageant, a chilli cook-off, the Little Miss El Kabayo contest, auction and selling of horses and ponies, raffles, giveaways, merchandise stores and exhibits of assorted products and services.

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Sheriff Gabby said he expects thousands to enjoy the weekend festivities. “This is one of the major crowd-drawing events in the Freeport Zone,” he said. “It has grown from a gathering of horse enthusiasts to a fun-filled, two-day event with a lineup of activities for every member of the family. We’re grateful to Clark Development Corp., DOT Region III, Clark International Airport, Greater Clark Visitors Bureau, Association of Clark Horsemen, Manila North Tollways, Clark Freeport, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts of America Troop 485, Mad Dog Motorcycle Club and other organizations for making this possible to promote tourism and business in the Freeport.” For details on the Horsefest, call cellphone number 0917-834-4054 or 0916-519-9149 or visit the El Kabayo Horseback Riding FB Page or email or check out the Clark Riding Stable at Panday Pira corner Puyat Avenue, Clark Freeport Zone.

Postscript. Here’s the final portion of yesterday’s column on “The Meaning of GILAS” – “In Lebanon, Gilas struggled through traffic and a driver who lost his way to the gym and practiced only 15 minutes the day before facing China. But Gilas shrugged off the bumps to stun China, 96-87, with Terrence Romeo scoring 26 points, including 5-of-7 triples, Christian Standhardinger hitting 15, Jayson Castro firing 13, Matthew Wright contributing 12 and Japeth Aguilar compiling 7 points and 5 blocks.

“Finally, in service, (coach Chot) Reyes said it’s what pumps him up. ‘I’m not a politician with millions of constituents,’ he said. ‘I’m not a business tycoon with thousands of employees. I’m just a coach and coaching is what I do to serve my country.’ The crowd burst into applause after Reyes concluded his talk by urging the coaches to become better teachers, better educators and better leaders in their chosen profession.”

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