Rebecca Benge has been riding horses since she was knee-high to a grasshopper.

The 18-year-old's grandfather broke horses in as a trainer, her mother rode them and so did her sister.

Benge, a mounted games competitor who has won a multitude of national titles, recently returned to Whanganui High School after competing in Belgium.

She participated in the International Mounted Games Association's 33rd World Team Championship Open, where the competition was tough, she said.


"The result wasn't what we wanted going into it, we got 14th out of 25 teams, so it wasn't bad, but I think we had high hopes for ourselves going over there," Benge said.

"What let the team down was a few issues with riders and horses not quite gelling as well as we had hoped."

Benge represented New Zealand in a team of six that included Jamie Egging, Shayla Shaw, Sky Notter, Amie Bentall and reserve Nicole Hope.

They competed on borrowed mounts as the cost to transport their horses to Europe was too high.

Riding random mounts made things a lot harder, Benge said.

"It was just tougher than we thought it was going to be. For a lot of us it was our first major international competition, so that probably played a part in it as well.

"But I was pretty happy with what I did, there were a few moments where I let myself down, but on the whole, it was a pretty clean performance."

Mounted games is a branch of equestrian sport featuring individuals, pairs and teams competing in events such as bottle swap, jousting and mug shuffle.

Benge's favourite is socks and buckets, which is a vaulting game.

"Vaulting gives me an adrenaline rush and I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie, it's quite a high paced game as well and I like speed," she said.

"I've always been quite good at it and I'm quite a competitive person – I like to win."

Last season was a good one for Benge and she needed it after missing out on making a world team the year before.

Rebecca Benge had to leave Cindy and Blitz behind and competed on a random pony in Belgium. Photo / Bevan Conley
Rebecca Benge had to leave Cindy and Blitz behind and competed on a random pony in Belgium. Photo / Bevan Conley

"That was very hard for me, you always want to be in those teams, so when I didn't make the cut, I went back and had to train harder," she said.

"I worked my ass off to get back up to where I wanted to be."

The main thing holding her back was her mentality, she would find herself getting scared when entering the ring.

"I've always been a talented rider, but in the pressure situations, I kind of cracked and let myself down," Benge said.

"I had to change that thought of 'oh no, it's Nationals' to something positive like 'yes, it's Nationals, I finally get the chance to do this' because you want to be under pressure - that's your chance to prove that you're the best."

In her final year of school, Benge has a clear cut idea of what is to come.

"Going to Belgium definitely made me see how much I want to be at the top of the sport, when I leave school I intend to stay here and ride our New Zealand season.

"As soon as our season's finished, I'll go over to the UK to do their season and just see what happens from there."

For now, the New Zealand season is starting and Benge has a triple crown to try and win.