Pony Club is mainly a resource for young riders to have fun with other young riders by taking lessons and going to competitive rallies.
A young rider can be any age between 4-25. Beginner level is for riders with little or no experience, called a D Level. D Level is divided into 3 groups- D1s, D2s, and D3s. All pony clubbers start at D1s and as they attain skills they can go through a rating process, or series of tests (Dressage, Show Jumping, Cross Country, and Knowledge). They are scored in each, and if they perform at or above standards, they move to the next level (e.g. D1 rates to a D2). As you go up in levels, you must jump higher and know more.
Ds are supposed to have basic control over their horses and have simple horse-management skills. They are not expected to know a lot of veterinary or anatomy knowledge, but need to know parts of the horse and parts of tack. A D may also be a stable manager, or a leader of a team that does not ride, but helps younger pony clubbers prepare to ride at a show.
The next level after D is C. Cs are also divided into C1, C2, and C3. More is expected at a rating as a C. They must be able to apply blankets, wraps and boots, as well as know some anatomy and how to treat minor wounds. A Record Book, a book of your horse’s expenses and appointments, is expected to be kept for at least 6 months.
Cs must ride their horses in a balanced and even frame. More complicated figures such as leg-yields and serpentines should be easy for Cs. They are expected to jump cross-country obstacles like ditches and water jumps, as well as be able to do a course without time faults (too slow), or speed penalties (too fast).
The last levels of pony club are B, H-A (half A), and A. At the B level, you must know how to treat major wounds, know close to all of the horse joints, cartilages, bones and lameness problems.
You have to longe a horse you have never met and also ride it. Much of the cross-country is the same as C level, but you may have to jump elephant traps, in-and-outs, and higher water jumps and banks. [These are all more difficult.]
H-A is the knowledge segment for the A rating. All bones, lameness causes, unsoundness issues, muscles, joints, shoes, and just about everything you can think of.
Finally, the A level is the most prestigious level in Pony Club, and often time many people never make it this far considering that you’re only allowed a limited number of tries at it.
Riding Dressage at the A level consists of leg-yields and transitions such as to a canter from a walk. It is also required that you do shoulder-in and show lengthening at every gate.
At the Show Jumping phase you have to complete gymnastics (at jumping level), without stirrups. You must also ride a show jumping course at the A level.
Cross-country perhaps is the biggest challenge. Once again you must jump elephant traps, water jumps, banks, feeders, trekhaners, downhill jumps, and palisades.
A new feature that may be added to Pony Club soon is a Specialty Rating option. A rider may complete a single phase of the rating, Show Jumping or Dressage. A rider must only complete standards of that discipline to pass.
A fun, competitive event for Pony Clubbers is a rally. Types of rallies offered in Pony Club are Quiz (unmounted knowledge), Mounted Games, Polocrosse, Dressage, Show Jumping, Tetrathlon (Riding, running, shooting, swimming), and Eventing. A person in a club may enter a rally at a particular level and compete in teams. As they go to a rally they are not only scored on riding, but also on Horse management. Horse management officials go around a barn and help competitors. If they find something unsafe they may take a point off for it. Another part of horse management is the equipment check to see if your team has all the kits it needs to complete the rally safely. The main job of horse management is to ensure that a rider has a fun and safe rally and not to just take points off. When pointing out a problem the official should explain to the team why the issue is unsafe or incorrect and give them a chance to correct it.
These are only some of the fun things involved in Pony Club. If you want to know more about Pony Club, or join, there is a link below to the Pony Club Website with information. You can find information about ratings and locate a club near you.
Contributed By: Andy Wyatt