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Emma (13) and Samantha (14) Gillies finished first and second respectively in the open pony championship at the national showjumping championships in Christchurch this month.
Less than three seconds and only five points separated them after five rounds of competition.
The girls live at Waitaki Bridge, just south of the Waitaki River, on a farm running 1100 cows.
‘‘It just happens. We can both ride each other’s ponies, but we ride them so differently.
‘‘I suit more ponies that take me somewhere.
‘‘Emma’s pony covers the ground faster.’’
Emma admitted she loves the speed factor.
Father David joins the rest of the family on their equestrian endeavours when he can be spared from dairy work.
They travel to competitions across the country in a truck that accommodates all five of them and seven ponies.
The Gillies have eight of their own horses on their property, plus one belonging to a friend.
They train their ponies together over jumps built by Mrs Gillies’ father, well-known North Otago farmer Bill Pile, when his own daughters were young.
‘‘The girls have young ponies to work on — project ponies,’’ their mother said.
‘‘It’s a sport that keeps them busy. And you have to be fit.’’
Mrs Gillies said although equestrian activities were a huge commitment, ‘‘it’s worth it for the life skills they learn’’.