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Why All Kids Should Join The Pony Club!
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Why All Kids Should Join The Pony Club!

The Pony Club was formed in 1929 as a voluntary organisation for children interested in ponies and riding. The UK alone has 345 branches and 600 centres and the Pony Club is active in 27 countries worldwide with a total membership of a staggering 110,000. Over the years, many successful international riders including Olympic medallists and World Champions have come from a Pony Club background.

The Pony Club aims to teach young people to ride and to enjoy the many different sports and activities connected with horses and horse riding. Instruction in horsemanship is also extremely important and members are educated by experts in the proper care of their pony, nutrition and health. Regular rallies and training are held and members are encouraged to take Tests in riding, stable management and horsemanship. A very important objective of The Pony Club is to teach and promote sportsmanship, citizenship and loyalty whilst at the same time developing strength of character and self-discipline in its members. These important life skills are learnt in a safe and supportive environment and will serve youngsters well when they leave school and enter the ‘real world’.

The Pony Club was once seen as a society exclusively for children of the wealthy, whose parents could afford for them to have a pony of their own, but these days there are many Centres based at riding schools where ponyless kids can hire a pony and enjoy the same activities, competitions and learning experiences as those with an animal of their own.

I judged for The Pony Club at one of their Area Dressage Qualifier competitions last weekend. The standard of riding was very high and all the ponies were well cared for and beautifully turned out. The children competed on teams representing different branches from all over the area and the support they gave each other was great to see. There was a real sense of camaraderie throughout the triumphs and tears when things didn’t go quite according to plan. The winners were exuberant yet gracious in their success whilst the losers, although clearly disappointed, were philosophical and congratulated the victors with quiet dignity.

I was struck immediately by the friendly atmosphere, excellent organisation and by how polite and mannerly all the children were! One poor girl (aged 11) had a disaster. Her pony was particularly resistant and uncooperative during the test, made worse by the fact that her parents and the other members of her team were all standing by watching. The young lady ended up in tears but battled on through the test (which everyone had to ride from memory, including several 8 year olds!), and did her best to smile at me when she finally halted to salute.

Such experiences are indeed ‘character building’ and will serve these kids well in the adult world they will soon enter. I think that in schools in this country too much is made of ‘as long as you do your best it doesn’t matter if you win or come last’. That won’t cut it when these youngsters come to look for a job; coming second in the interview means you’ve failed!

I had a word with the young lady as she left the arena. I told her that she had a lovely pony, was a good rider and that there was always next time. She smiled through her tears and politely thanked me as she rode away to be consoled by her team mates.

Having just endured a month of the Football World Cup and watched in astonishment as the overpaid, self-opinionated prima donnas flung themselves to the ground for no good reason other than to try to blag a penalty; abused the referee and his assistants and in one instance actually bit another player, I couldn’t help but think that that young lady and her dressage team partners could teach those footballers a thing or two!

 

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  1. PonyGirl
    PonyGirl
    Nice article and cute picture.
    Log in to reply.
    1. autumnap
      autumnap
      Thank you kindly! Hope you're well. x
      Log in to reply.

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