Those of you who are in pony club, understand. Every little boy and girl who rides should be in pony club. But there’s still plenty of kids out there who never join.
Pony club not only teaches riding, it also emphasizes on proper horsemanship and knowledge. Through a series of tests (or ratings) and shows (or rallies) kids learn and demonstrate their ability to be well rounded horsemen. Ratings, are tests of both knowledge and riding, each level ranging from D-1 to A is progressively more difficult, and focusing on the same areas of education. Throughout the levels new skills are introduced such as, aging a horse by it’s teeth, taking the TPRs, lungeing, pulling and tacking on shoes, and record keeping. All important skills in the world of horses. In the knowledge realm kids learn everything from rules of various horse sports, to blemishes, unsoundnesses, conformation, and parasites or diseases. The riding can be developed into three separate disciplines; Normal (pertains to eventing, where you have cross country, dressage, and show jumping ), Hunter jumper (focusing simply on the jumping and flat in a more hunter position), and dressage.
Many top eventers including, David O’Connor, Karen O’Connor, Boyd Martin, Stephen Bradley, Tiana Coudrey, Bruce Davidson, Nina Fout, Andrea Leatherman, and Gina Miles were members of Pony Club. And while not every top eventer was in pony club, many of them are.
Many people dispute the importance of pony club because of the “nit picking”, the fact you have to have everything labeled and they pick through your horse’s tail looking for dandruff. But when the time comes that your working for a top eventer, don’t you want to know how to get every last piece out of their tail? And when you have a horse who has a serious injury, and your the only person in the barn wouldn’t you rather have the steps to treat an injury drilled into your head since you were five then have no idea? Pony club isn’t a must, but I would highly recommend it.
Pony club taught me how to properly do a standing wrap and judged me on my ability to do it, they taught me to jog a horse for inspections and how to present them, they even taught me how to jump. I’ve been an avid pony club member since I was five years old, and I’m only a few years away from reaching my A level.
Every rally, or show is like a miniature Olympics. Your put into teams of 3-4 riders, with a groom and you compete individually and in teams. It’s a great way to learn team skills in a primarily individual sport. They also offer a range of horse sports to fit each individuals wants and needs. Everything from eventing to polocrosse is offered and it’s easy to attend lessons and rallies.
Whether you believe in pony club or not, it develops a lot of young riders and helps shape them into who they are today. Many credit their success to this organization. It teaches young riders to be well rounded in all aspects of horses, as well as independent of parents (they are not allowed at shows.)