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Three young local riders selected for USMG team

Madison Gardinier, Kayleigh and Kelsey Spicer have been chosen, along with two other junior riders, to represent the United States and the local community at a prestigious international competition in Kiel, Germany Aug. 15-16. They will leave on Aug. 5.

Kayleigh Spicer, 17, and Kelsey Spicer, 15, live and show locally in the Landrum/Tryon area. They have been competing in mounted games for three years. They were instrumental in helping their mother, Anne Spicer, along with Norm Powers, start the TROT program at FENCE.

At home, they have been holding riding camps for childrens autism to raise money for their trip. As well as holding riding camps, they currently use two of the therapy ponies to mentor other aspiring games riders.

In addition to competing in the USMGA, they have been involved with The Carolina Carriage Club, Blue Ridge Hunter Jumper Association, Progressive Show Jumping, Green Creek Hounds and Tryon Hounds (through Pony Club). They compete in the hunter/jumpers and are regulars at FENCE and Harmon Field. They placed 10th overall in the field hunter division of the Western Carolina Hunter Pace 2009 series, riding their games ponies.

Kayleigh is the recipient of the 2009 TR&HC Educational Scholarship. She will be off to Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va., to be on their equestrian team three days after they get home from Germany.

Gardinier, 15, lives in Rutherfordton. She is a member of the Carolina Carriage Club, USMGA, MGAA, BRHJA and competes in the hunter/jumpers. She has been playing games for three years.

According to the U.S. Mounted Games Association (USMGA), these world-class athletes have been chosen based on their riding skills and their ability to represent the United States as good ambassadors for their sport and their country.

Mountain games combine gymkhana-type races with English saddles to create the &dquo;extreme games&dquo; of the equestrian world. Riders compete in teams of four or five in relay races, which are actually a series of tests of horsemanship involving a variety of skills including valuting onto and off of horses at full gallop, jousting at targets and performing other acrobatic feats at full gallop.

Because USMGA is a non-profit organization, riders must pay for the cost of travel, room and board, training expenses, uniforms and rented ponies. This can be an expensive undertaking for the riders, USMGA officials say.

If you are interested in helping to sponsor Gardinier and both Spicers, you can contact USMGA at 502-222-4016. All donations are tax-deductible.