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The thunderous sound of a galloping horse fills the air, an equestrian sets her sights on her target.
Riders from neighbouring towns, such as Memel, Normandien and Bethlehem, participated in Majuba Tentpegging Club’s annual gymkhana on Saturday, February 10.
While participants put their valiant horses to the test in front of a panel of judges, this year’s event proved to be slightly different.
John Coetzee, a renowned figure in the tentpegging community, travelled to Newcastle. Having competed at an international level, with 61 years experience in equestrian sports, why would he travel to our beloved town?
Coetzee is actively involved in developing the skills of local riders, so much so, the event pays tribute to him. Coetzee turned 83-years-old on Sunday, February 11. Due to his continuous support to the Majuba Tentpegging Club and his years of experience in the equestrian world, hosting the event in his honour seemed paramount.
“I started riding horses in 1957 when I was with the mounted police. Having a lot to do with them, I qualified for dressage, jumping and tentpegging, which is my forte,” he explained.
Over the years, he rose up the ranks in the equestrian community and became an internationally recognised judge. “I have also received an award for promoting tentpegging,” he boasted.
But while proud of his standing as a judge, receiving awards and receiving recognition as a manager and coach, Coetzee is most proud of the friendships he has formed through the years and guiding young riders to new heights.
Through his passion for tentpegging, Coetzee forged a friendship with Prince Malik Ata from Pakistan. Prince Malik Ata is a prominent feudal lord of Kot Fateh Khan in the Attock District of North-Western Punjab, Pakistan. He is also the current chief of Kot Fateh Khan.
The Prince and Coetzee met through their deep-seated love for equestrian sports. In fact, Prince Malik Ata is the first elected President of the Equestrian and Tent Pegging Federation of Pakistan. He is also one of the founders of the International Tent Pegging Federation and its Vice President.
The Majuba Tentpegging Club’s event has truly brought both legends and royalty to Newcastle.