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The Live Oak Hounds USPC Foxhunting Challenge Award is presented to the six Pony Clubs which regularly take the greatest percentage of their members out hunting. Arapahoe Hunt Pony Club, a relatively new chapter, was the top recipient of the Challenge Award for 2016. Their District Commissioner, Elizabeth Gillmor, described the group as "a small foxhunting-based pony club, formed in 2013, with the goal of providing formalized support and instruction to junior members of the Arapahoe Hunt."

"We have received fantastic support from Arapahoe Hunt members and staff, so that even the smallest youngsters are welcome, starting on the leadline and gradually moving up in the field as their skills and confidence grow."

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Kelso Saunders, age 8, Arapahoe Hunt Pony Club member. Photo courtesy of Katy Saunders.

"This was the first year our club had tried to go for the Live Oak Challenge," Gillmor continued, "Our kids aren't big into horse shows, so the Challenge gave them a tangible goal to work towards. Certificates were posted in the clubhouse so members could see their progress, and hunt members could cheer them on. Ten-year-old MacKenzie Saunders achieved the highest number of hunts on her pony, Della, hunting eleven times in the regular season."

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MacKenzie Saunders and Della. Photo courtesy of Zina M. Balash, www.zbalash.zenfolio.com.

Marian Walhlgren, USPC Development Director, reported: "We had a total of 68 Pony Club members compete this year, and that counted for more than 705 days out in the hunt field." The Challenge Award, now in its tenth year, encourages Pony Club members who do not regularly hunt to try the sport, and recognizes members who hunt on a regular basis for acting as mentors to the less-experienced. The top six Pony Clubs receive a total of $10,000 through the Challenge Award program. 

"It's delightful that a vibrant new pony club, Arapahoe Hunt PC, has won the Live Oak Challenge Award this year - the club's close and continuing collaboration with a historic hunt such as Arapahoe is clearly paying off, and bodes well for the future of the sport in the region," noted Nancy Ambrosiano, USPC Liaison to the MFHA and president of Caza Ladron Hunt. "Of course, this wouldn't be possible without the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. C. Martin Wood III, Joint Masters of Live Oak Hounds." The Woods, both past presidents of the MFHA, established the prize to bolster youth participation in foxhunting.

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Arapahoe Hunt Pony Club DC Elizabeth Gillmor with her daughter, Gwen, who looks forward to participating in the Live Oak Challenge next season. Photo courtesy of Zina M. Balash, www.zbalash.zenfolio.com.

Here are the full results:

1st Place – The Arapahoe Hunt Pony Club (CO) – members hunted with Arapahoe Hunt
2nd Place – Cedar Knob Pony Club (TN) – members hunted with Cedar Knob Hounds, Longreen Foxhounds, Hillsboro Hounds and Marlborough Hunt.
3rd Place – Elkridge Harford Pony Club (MD) – members hunted with Elkridge-Harford Hunt
4th Place – Spring Valley Hounds Pony Club (NJ) – members hunted with the Spring Valley Hounds
5th Place – Buffalo Creek Pony Club (VA) – members hunted with Red Oak Foxhounds
6th Place – Blue Mountain Pony Club (PA) – members hunted with Rose Tree-Blue Mountain Hunt

Requirements of the Challenge Award are based on the riders' experience in the field. First-time foxhunters or members who have hunted fewer than three times in the previous season must hunt a total of three or more times in the current season. Members who hunted three or more times in the previous season, or participated in the Live Oak Challenge last year, must hunt six or more times in the current season. Pony Club members who are also regular hunting members must hunt nine or more times. The hunt clubs must be MFHA recognized and the juniors' participation certified by a Master.

For more information on foxhunting and Pony Club, please click here.

For more information on the MFHA's programs for children, please click here.

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