The Pony Club was the starting point for a huge number of top riders across all equestrian sports, including Oliver Townend, Piggy French and Gemma Tattersall – who took the top three spots at the 2017 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
So what are the benefits of joining the Pony Club – and do you need your own horse or pony to join? H&C spoke to Vicky Kangurs at the Pony Club to find out more.
It is only posh kids with pigtails that go to Pony Club?!
No! The Pony Club is for everyone up to the age of 25, and members come from all walks of life and all riding abilities.
There is plenty of choice and members are encouraged to fulfil their potential and meet their personal goals, whatever they may be.
Some aspire to reach the pinnacle of achievement, such as gaining the prestigious A Test or winning at the Pony Club Championships, while others want to gain a handful of our Achievement Badges and compete at a Regional Championship, which is for grassroots riders. Others just want to enjoy spending time with horses and ponies and making friends.
What does the Pony Club offer?
Members have the opportunity to:
- Make new, like-minded friends and have fun.
- Learn how to ride and take part in competitions at a number of levels across nine main sports.
- Learn how to take care of horses and ponies – demonstrated by earning badges and certificates.
- Take part in a huge range of activities including Pony Club Camp, which is a highlight of the year.
Other opportunities include Pony Racing, where members can ride at some of the most prestigious racecourses in the UK, and Mounted Games where teams can qualify for Royal Windsor Horse Show and the Prince Philip Cup at Horse of the Year Show.
There are also a number of benefits for parents/guardians:
- Pony Club members benefit from 24/7 personal liability Insurance.
- Members learn in a safe and caring environment.
- They gain lifelong qualities such as confidence, teamwork and sportsmanship.
- Members learn how to ride and care for ponies.
What activities/courses do you run?
As well as yearly camps and regular rallies, the Pony Club has a range of training and competitions for all levels.
- Achievement badges: we have 22 Mini Achievement Badges and 50 Achievement Badges covering a range of equine and non-equine topics.
- Efficiency tests: efficiency tests (E to A) enable members to learn progressively about horse and pony care and riding.
- Progressive tests: these have four levels (bronze, silver, gold and platinum) and teach Horsemanship and Riding and Road Sense.
- Competition Badges and Intro to Competition Badges: these are awarded to members who are training towards competing in one or more of our nine sports.
- Nine equestrian sports: dressage, showjumping, eventing, polo, polocrosse, endurance, mounted games, pony racing and tetrathlon.
- The Pony Club Championships: our annual Championships are the pinnacle of a members’ competitive career, attracting around 2,500 riders. You can watch this fantastic event on the latest Rudall’s Round-Up on H&C.
- Training for coaches: there are numerous opportunities available, from training for experienced trainers to older members who wish to start their career pathway while remaining in the Pony Club.
Do you need your own pony?
No. We run a Centre Membership Scheme at Pony Club centres, which allows members without a horse or pony to enjoy all the benefits of membership.
Pony Club centres are approved riding schools or equestrian centres, which are linked to the Pony Club. They offer the same training and competition opportunities as those available to branch members. Centres may also take teams to regional and area Pony Club competitions and qualify for the Pony Club Championships.
There are around 500 Pony Club centres in the UK, all of which are checked to ensure they meet our standards and have the correct documentation in place. Pony Club coaches are also required to attend professional development courses to keep their knowledge up to date.
How much does it cost to join?
From September 2017 individual branch membership costs £74, but rates differ for families and lapsed members.
Centre membership currently costs £29 per year. Centre Plus membership (for those who have their own horse or pony, but join in activities at a Pony Club centre) costs the same as branch membership.
There are additional fees for training and competitions, but these are kept to a minimum.
How can I find out about my local club?
If you want to see the Pony Club in action don’t miss Rudall’s Round-Up: Pony Club Champs which premieres on 11 September at 8.30pm on Sky 253. If you don’t have Sky, you can watch online via H&C Play or Amazon Video.