Over the past weekend, the Newcastle Show Grounds played host to one of the biggest sporting spectacles of the year.
The 2018 South African National Senior Tentpegging Championships (SANSTPC) saw 128 riders from across the country, and some from beyond national borders, competing to show their prowess on horseback.
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Quite simply, tentpegging is much more than technique and skill.
Formerly known as gymkhana, tentpegging involves riders (individuals or in teams) maneuvering a sword or lance to strike an object pegged into the ground or suspended in the air, at a full gallop of around 40 kilometres per hour.
Like many team sports, trust between riders and their horses is of the utmost importance.
“I do not see this as a team sport. It is a family sport. We are all athletes who share a love of the sport and a mutual respect for each other and we are doing much more than competing; we are building strong family bonds,” explained one of the Majuba Equestrian Tentpegging Club’s riders.
2018 marked the 68th anniversary of SANSTPC, and according to Natalie Schnuir, one of the organisers of this year’s competition, it was one of the most exciting championships yet.
“The talent at this year’s SANSTPC was remarkable. The amount of skill, diligence and discipline the riders put in definitely paid off.”
As the host of the event, the KwaZulu-Natal Equestrian Tentpegging Union said it was proud of the outcome of the championships, particularly with the performance of the five local district teams: Majuba, Normandien, Vryheid Landbou, Witkoppe and Okusha Equestrian Centre.
“Among the riders were a few teams visiting from Saudi Arabia and we are very proud to show the world what talent we have as local riders.”
The next SANSTPC will be hosted by the North West in 2019, and tentpegging enthusiasts and rider alike say they are looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for the sport.