There has been a lot of focus on Team Canada’s performances at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. But there is another international equestrian event where one young rider from Stouffville, Ontario, is going to try her best to win.
Lily Solomon, 19, will be representing Canada at the World Individual Mounted Games Championships (WIC) held at the David Broome Center in Chepstow, Wales, August 18- 24, 2021. The event draws over 200 riders for a series of games that involve high speed, high agility, and teamwork and trust between the rider, their horse and their teammates.
While the Mounted Games sound like the famous Prince Philip Games (PPG), they are not connected to Pony Club, although many Mounted Games riders began riding in Pony Club. The Mounted Games originated in the UK as a way for young riders who loved the games to continue past that region’s maximum age of fourteen. In Canada riders don’t age out of PPG so they are able to compete in both PPG and Mounted Games.
Solomon may be young, but she’s already a Team Canada veteran of the Mounted Games, having competed internationally at World Individuals, World Pairs, and World Teams for the past six years, riding in the USA, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, France, England, Ireland and Wales. When competing overseas, Solomon and other foreign riders have the additional challenge of riding borrowed ponies. But that’s not something that daunts Solomon. “Some of my greatest achievements include winning my Final competing in the Under 17 division at the WIC in 2018 held in France, and placing 5th in the C final competing in the Open (over 18) division at the WIC in 2019 held in England,” Solomon says.
Solomon has been riding for 15 years and competing in games for 12. She’s fortunate that her family runs a boarding facility where she keeps her two main World Games mounts: Pharoh, a 14.2 hh, 7-year-old gelding, and Freya, a 14.1 hh 13-year-old mare. According to Solomon, Pharoh is considered very large in the Canadian Mounted Games circuit, as most ponies tend to be between 12.3 hh and 13.3 hh, making it is easier to lean to the ground, get on and off, and do other common skills in Games.
Her favorite game to is called 2 Flag, a high-speed race which involves moving flags between cones, or quoits, and picking up rings off the ground and putting them onto a cone. And she’s just as passionate about her chosen sport as any Olympian. “From putting balls on cones to picking rings up off the ground and getting on and off while the horse is galloping, the trust that is required from both horse and rider to play Games is extraordinary,” Solomon explains. “I’m very competitive and love training and working on specific skills to improve before the next competition. In recent years I have also been training new horses to play Games which has required me to develop new skills and passion for the sport. There is no better feeling than competing on a horse I’ve trained myself!”
When the WIC was cancelled in 2020 due to the global pandemic, Solomon spent the year competing in England, helping run competitions, being coached by top European trainers and living with ‘games’ families in England and Switzerland.
But her devotion to the sport of Mounted Games extends beyond her personal competition goals. “For the past five years I have been coaching younger riders to develop their skills, confidence and passion for Mounted Games,” she explains. “It is very exciting to see new riders coming into the sport and I want to share all I can to encourage and support their success. I am excited to continue sharing the insights I gained on running competitions, riding borrowed ponies and coaching ideas.”
Following the Mounted Games this month, where Solomon hopes to make the semi-finals, she starts university at Wilfred Laurier where she will study business. But she plans on continuing to ride and compete.
“I am so thankful for my family, Equine Mounted Games Canada (EMGC) and the Canadian Pony Club for all the support and opportunities throughout the years,” she says. “I am looking forward to connecting with old friends and making new ones at World Individuals 2021!”
(Watch a video of Lily and Miley in action at the 2017 Nations Cup:)