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Up against some of the world’s leading equestrians, the New Zealand Mounted Games Under 17 Team, including Rangi Ruru Girls’ School Year 11 student Leah Zydenbos, has been named World Champions at Equitana in Auckland this weekend.
Teams from Australia, Ireland, and England held the next top spots in the U17 competition.
Director of Equestrian at Rangi Ruru, Pippa Young says it was a tough ride for this team with Leah, riding her borrowed mount Cheeky, and her team going up against some of the best equestrians in the world in a very close competition at times.
“It was very tense in the final particularly, with two eliminations and a tie-breaker in the very last game of the competition,” she says. “The New Zealand U17 team has been amazing over these few days,” says Ms Young. “Leah and her teammates worked so hard to triumph over the riders from all the other countries, with Australia, Ireland and England being particularly strong. They will all have been exhausted last night – riders and horses.”
Ms Young says Leah was the first rider out for many of the crucial games in the final this afternoon at Equitana in Auckland.
“She has been outstanding; an exceptional team member.”
Leah has been able to include her equestrian training along with her day to day learning at Rangi Ruru.
“Individualised learning, while supporting and enabling girls to include the disciplines in which they excel, is something Rangi does very well. Leah knows this first hand with excellent academic results, equestrian success and she represents the school in top level basketball. We are thrilled to share in her success this weekend,” says Ms Young. “Her parents Sue and Rick, and brother Luke – all mounted games competitors themselves - are understandably very proud of their daughter too.”
Leah was a key part of the school’s success at the South Island Schools’ Mounted Games held at the Ellesmere Showgrounds in late April this year. She and Lily Buckley won the South Island Interschools Competition. Leah has also excelled in a number of other competitions, throughout New Zealand. She was recognised for this as a finalist in the Zonta individual sporting awards this year.
Mounted Games is a fast paced, action packed discipline with riders and mounts displaying an incredible amount of fitness, training and skill.