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Pony Club for Young Horse-Lovers
By Coloradohorseproperty.com


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Pony Club is an educational organization that progressively develops young riders into well-rounded horse people capable of riding safely and tactfully on the flat, over fences and in the open.  According to Margo Leithead in the United States Pony Club News, “Horse Management is the foundation of all that we do—the raison d‘etre.  Without it, we are just another riding club.”  The Pony Club is committed to horsemanship, sportsmanship, leadership and stewardship.

The local club is the core of Pony Club.  Though clubs are speckled throughout Colorado, Pine Ridge Pony Club in Parker, Colorado serves the Denver area.  Offering classes and hands-on activities, young riders learn dressage, eventing, show jumping, mounted games, tetrathlon, quiz, vaulting, foxhunting, polo cross and more.  During "unmounted" meetings, members learn about feeding, shoeing, veterinary care, and other areas of horse management.  It is not necessary for a child to own a horse or pony, but he must have access to one when required. 

Parents are the biggest factor in the success of the Pony Club.  Pine Ridge is a volunteer-based organization with plenty of parents and other adults assisting in the club's activities.  Volunteers organize, host and help at meetings, rating, clinics, camps and regional events, act as jump judges, timers, typists and phone callers, serve on a ring crew or clean-up crew, build, paint, set up, run concessions, and serve on the Senior Board.

Each year, in addition to the ongoing club programs, Pine Ridge organizes one of the regional rallies in the Rocky Mountain Region. Rallies usually test dressage, show jumping, combined training and combined test.  With adequate interest, future regional rallies may include games, tetrathalon or polo cross.  In addition to riding, the teams are judged on stable management; in fact, it is a very important part of the scoring.

Pine Ridge encourages its members to participate in rallies as either a rider or a stable manager.  If the club cannot field a complete team (four riders and one manager), interested members may join individuals from another club, forming a Scramble Team—another way clubbers learn to help each other out.

The Pony Club idea originated in Great Britain in 1928 when its British foxhunting founders recognized the need for an organization to provide sound instruction for interested youngsters, especially those who could not afford expensive lessons.  The first annual directory, published in 1956, listed 38 clubs with 1,953 members.  By 1995 the figures had grown to 600 clubs and 13,000 members.  It is now the leading junior-equestrian organization in the world. 

Such growth is testimony to the increasing popularity of Pony Club and its unique system of teaching its members to ride and care for their mounts well and to become good, responsible people—and have fun at the same time.

Generally, members are ages about 7 or 8 to age 21.  A child must be mature enough to safely ride and participate in activities and competitions.  Following a Pony Clubber's 21st birthday, he or she becomes a graduate, and often becoming a volunteer and mentor to others.  The Club also offers lifetime and corporate memberships.  For further information about Pine Ridge Pony Club, call (303) 805-8572.


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