Rosie rides to success in mounted games
Rosie Langstaff, in Year 12, was riding before she was able to walk and she has developed a life-long passion for ponies and mounted games. Rosie is a key member of the Yorkshire county mounted games team and her ambition is to be selected for Team GB. We were pleased to catch up with Rosie to chat to her about her commitment to her sport and her plans for the future.
How long have you been riding and when did you develop a passion for mounted games?
I have literally been riding since I was able to sit on a pony (all thanks to my mum!) My passion for mounted games really started when I was about six years old, I competed for my pony club mounted games team, just for fun, but over the years I became more competitive and enjoyed being an adrenaline junky, so much so that it became my main hobby. Whilst I competed in mounted games I also did other disciplines within the pony club, including dressage, show jumping, eventing and hunting. Over the years, mounted games has become more important and has taken over my social life, so much so that I have had to drop the other parts of the horse world to make it my main focus. This then led to me buying my own mounted games pony as well as having my other ponies for my mum to ride and compete on.
Do you have your own ponies and are you part of a Mounted Games Club?
I have three wonderful ponies that I love to bits! Charm and Echo are my mounted games ponies, who I do all the in-season competing with. Charm is a chestnut mare and a British Riding pony who I have had for four years. I trained her myself, breaking her in at four-years old. She is my pride and joy and we have a very close bond. Charm is 13.1 hands which is smaller than most ponies in my age category, but she is immensely fast and can keep up with anything with longer legs. Echo is my other pride and joy, she is a grey Connemara cross and is older and more experienced than Charm and she has taught me a lot. She is 13.3 hands and I have had her for about four months. She has fitted in at home really well and we have an amazing bond already, she is going to be my main team pony for this season.
The reason I have two ponies to compete is because I will have a better chance at being noticed by any England coaches if I have multiple good ponies out on the field. Cindy is 14.2 hands and she is my eventing pony who has been ours for five years. We have done practically everything with her, hunting eventing, show jumping, dressage and even mounted games.
Are you part of a team and where are the competitions you take part in?
In MGA you compete in county teams and I am a member of the Yorkshire team, however in the past five years of doing MGA I have competed with team Northumberland, Mid Warwickshire, Central Warwickshire, Derbyshire and most recently with Yorkshire under 17s. It is important to find the best- possible team to be able to be noticed by the England coaches. Travelling is a major part of the sport, especially when you live as far up the country as we do. It can take hours to get to competitions, which are as far down as Brighton or Wales or up to Scotland. These journeys can be as long as eight hours one way which can be straining on the ponies legs. Having two ponies can put me at an advantage as I can go to twice as many competitions without damaging or hurting one pony, giving them vital resting time between competitions and reducing the chance of injury.
Is the Mounted Games Association a supportive club?
My passion for mounted games grew so much we decided to move away from pony club to the Mounted Games Association, a huge organisation which is very supportive of its riders and likes to feed competitiveness as well as other organising activities like movie nights and quizzes to help new friendships and bonds between teams. I have made many life-long friends and we always have fun together.
What inspires and challenges you about mounted games competitions
The competitions are very exciting and adrenaline filled, they involve a lot of trust between pony and rider as you have to lean off at fast paces to collect or put equipment down, vaulting on and off the pony is very important and faster than normally getting on with the stirrup, as well as trust in your team mates to take fast changeovers without it going wrong. I do have to be careful though, this sport is not for the faint hearted. Over the years I have had many injuries and hospital trips, ranging from broken fingers to dislocations, getting knocked out, trampled by the ponies and damaged knee ligaments whilst doing this sport. No matter how dangerous this sport gets I will never give up on it as I have made friends for life and made great bonds with my coaches and have had so much fun doing it.
How has Covid impacted on the sport?
Covid-19 has really hit our community hard. We cannot train in our teams and so it has restricted the amount of practice we have and halted competitions. After the first lockdown, we had a few league competitions which enabled us to stack up league points, sadly we were only a couple of points off winning. Unfortunately, because the second lockdown came sooner than we expected all competitions and trainings were cancelled. Hopefully this year will be different as the vaccine gives us hope to stop the virus and we can get back to making memories with the people who I love.
I am incredibly lucky to be able to ride my ponies every day at home and so fortunate to live on a farm. Many people do not have this luxury. Just being able to ride the ponies every day releases any stress or anxiety I have, and keeps the ponies fit to be able to compete at such a high level and ensure that they stay strong for competing.
When is your next competition likely to take place?
Hopefully this year will be better than 2020 as more competitions have been put in the calendar. My first competition this year will hopefully going to take place on the 28th of February with one of my teammates, this show is a local show and will not have any spectators, but is a fantastic way to get the ponies out again to get them back into the rhythm of competing. It also gives me and my teammate Ella a run out to get used to the atmosphere and practise before any league shows, with the other three riders in my team, in April. In May I have an entry for the Northern Ireland championships, as part of the Yorkshire team, and if Covid-19 has been controlled by then we will be getting a ferry and going to Northern Ireland.
How do you maintain the high level of fitness required for your sport?
It is important that I also make sure my body is fit enough and my mind is in the correct state to go competing. These situations can be quite stressful so I always take time to relax, normally the day before the competition, just to chill and think of my strategies that we might use to get ahead of the other teams. I also need to be fit enough to cope with the demands of the vaulting on and off and running with the pony. I do exercises throughout the year, such as core exercises to keep my core strong to help me to lean back up on the pony when picking up equipment off the floor etc. Also doing lots of sprinting is important as this sport relies on fast paces and agility. A healthy diet is vital, so I make sure I have plenty of protein and fibre to keep my energy levels up. My family is big on home-made meals so we know exactly what goes into our food and therefore our bodies too. My family are definitely my main supporters and I am so thankful and grateful for them, they all believe and help me to reach my goals every day.
What subjects are you studying in Sixth Form?
I am studying Business, C-TEC Sport and Psychology. I am really enjoying these subjects and I believe that they link into my hobby of mounted games very well. I haven’t made any decisions on what I might do after Sixth Form just yet, but I have an idea of going to university and possibly becoming a Sports Psychologist and start training in the mounted games community after university to become a specialist in mounted games. I would aim to help athletes overcome any fears or problems they may have and help them to recover from setbacks to become the best they can be. I have only seen one other person do this and their career took off and they are very successful.