BHS junior Emma Watson to represent U.S. in Mounted Games World Team Championship

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, October 5, 2023

Bainbridge High School junior Emma Watson will represent the United States in the U18-mounted games World Team Championship. The Competition is held in Melbourne, Australia, and will run from Wednesday, October 11, to Saturday, October 14

Watson is a mounted games athlete. Mounted games is an equestrian sport similar to barrel racing. Athletes perform various technical tasks like picking things up and placing them down in specific spots as quickly as they can while riding a pony, usually done as part of a team in a relay race format. There are 28 unique events on the schedule for the world competition.

Watson participated in a tryout competition to earn a spot on the roster. She said that was “the worst” she’d ever played at a competition. She was shocked when she got the news she was selected for the national team.

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“I didn’t believe it,” Watson said.

Watson’s mother, Nicola Watson, said it was a surreal couple of weeks.

“It took two weeks for it to sink in,” Nicola said. “I’d be driving her to school, or she’d be driving, and I’d be in the passenger seat, and we’d both look at each other and kind of giggle.”

Watson is one of 6 riders on the U18 team. Her teammates are Kathryn Frazier, Maren Hanses, Aidan Murphy, Susie Robinson and Lily Somers.

Watson has been riding horses since “she was still in diapers,” according to her mother, and started participating in mounted games in 2018. She said mounted games are a “serious adrenaline kick.” 

Watson said her favorite event is bottle exchange. In bottle exchange, riders start on one side of the course with a bottle in their hand. When the race starts, the rider heads toward a barrel and sets the bottle down. They ride forward to another barrel and pick a bottle up.

After the rider picks up the second bottle, they perform a 180-degree turn with their pony at the end of the course and repeat the setting down and picking up of bottles.

They ride toward the starting line and hand the bottle to their teammate, and the process repeats until all teammates have finished. They do this all while trying to ride a pony as fast as possible.

“There’s a lot of different techniques,” Watson said. “If you have to place a piece of equipment down… you can turn into it. It slows your horse down, and when you turn them like that, they lean, and you can get lower.”

Watson will arrive in Melbourne on Sunday, Oct. 8, and have two days of practice before the first day of competition on the 11th.