|Frequently Asked Questions|
1. How is Pony Club organized?Each club is led by a District Commissioner (DC) and a board. Many clubs also have one or two joint District Commissioners (Joint DC). Board members may include treasurer, secretary, newsletter, prep guide secretary, education coordinator, and other positions as determined by the club. Loudoun Hunt Pony Club (LHPC) is part of the Virginia Region of the United States Pony Club (USPC). USPC has its own executive board, and we are required to follow the by-laws, policies and rules mandated by USPC.
2. What kinds of instruction does Pony Club provide?
Pony Club provides a structured curriculum of both mounted and unmounted skills and knowledge. Mounted instruction might include group instruction in any of the Pony Club sports such as dressage, jumping, eventing, games, etc. Unmounted instruction includes knowledge related to equine behavior, care, safety, and health issues as well as rally and ratings preparation. The goal of unmounted instruction is to help members master the standards of proficiency related to horse management for the various ratings.
LHPC unmounted meetings are scheduled during January and February and weekly mounted meetings in April and May and September and October. Summer camp is in June. LHPC members must be a member in good standing, to be eligible for ratings, participation in rallies and to attend summer camp.
3. Will Pony Club teach my child to ride?
While Pony Club offers mounted instruction, members may take riding instruction on a regular basis from other qualified instructors. Pony Club is not a replacement for private riding instruction.
Riding one time a week is generally not enough to progress through the ratings. D-level members should ride at least 2-3 times per week while C-level members usually need to ride at least 3-5 days a week.
4. Do Pony Clubbers ride English or Western?Pony Club teaches English riding, emphasizing the Balanced Seat. The Balanced Seat is an all-purpose seat. It is based on a modified dressage seat and includes riding on the flat (ring riding) and jumping and riding in the open (trail riding and cross-country jumping). With a good basis in the Balanced Seat, a rider can adapt to any style of riding. The Balanced Seat enables the rider to progress in flatwork, stadium/show jumping, and cross-country jumping, all of which are needed to progress through the Pony Club ratings.
5. Is there a minimum age for Pony Club?There is no minimum age, but a youngster must be old enough to safely ride in a group and safely participate in activities and competitions. Some local clubs do specify a minimum age for membership and/or rally participation. Children as young as 5 participate in Pony Club, but 7-8 year olds generally do better riding in a group, managing the care of their pony, and competing as a team member. The maximum age for a Pony Club member has recently been raised from 21 to 25.
6. Must a member own a horse?A member does not need to own a horse, but he/she must have access to a horse for mounted meetings and rallies. It is the responsibility of the member’s family to arrange for an appropriate horse and its transportation to and from meetings and rallies. It is up to the discretion of the DC/Joint DC as to the appropriateness of a horse in terms of behavior and training for mounted instruction. The DC (or Joint DC in the absence of the DC) may remove any horse from a meeting lesson if the horse appears unsafe to its rider or other riders.
7. How do ratings work?
Ratings provide a progression for the mastery of horse management (unmounted) and riding (mounted) skills. Pony Club members start out as “unrated”. They learn at their own pace and take the test for each rating when they are ready. Readiness is determined by the instructor, DC, and child. Each rating includes riding tests (in the ring, in the open, and jumping), stable management, and oral testing.
The D ratings are an introduction to the fun and challenge of riding, establishing a foundation of safety habits and knowledge of the daily care of pony and tack. The D-1 through D-3 Pony Club member learns to ride independently and with control, maintaining a reasonably secure position at the walk, trot, and canter and over low fences. All D ratings are awarded at the club level.
The C is a Pony Club member learning to become an active horseperson, to care independently for his or her pony and tack, and to understand the reasons for what he or she is doing. The C shows development toward a secure, independent seat and increasing control and confidence in all phases of riding. Members at the C levels are expected to begin to “give back” to Pony Club by beginning to teach unmounted topics to lower rated members. The C-1 and C-2 ratings are awarded at the club level. The H-B and C-3 are national ratings and reflect a basis of competence of riding and horse care that will make possible a lifetime of pleasure with horses.
The B, H-A, and A ratings are also national ratings and require great depth of knowledge. Successful candidates are competent, all-around horsepersons, and are active, contributing members of USPC who participate in a variety of Pony Club activities.
The Standards of Proficiency for all ratings are outlined in the Pony Club manuals as well as the national website: www.ponyclub.org. (Click on Forms, then Standards of Proficiency or Flowcharts for each level.)
8. What are the different Pony Club programs?
Official Pony Club programs (instruction and/or competition at rallies) include dressage, eventing, show jumping, mounted games, tetrathlon, quiz, vaulting, foxhunting, and polocrosse. Local clubs rarely offer all of the programs. The local club re-evaluates its offerings based on member interest and will also help a member find a group/club to help them in a discipline that the club does not address.
9. What is a rally?
A rally is a Pony Club team competition where teams of Pony Club members from regional clubs compete against each other in riding and horse management. For many Pony Club members, competing in a rally is one of the best things about Pony Club. Except for Quiz, rallies are mounted competitions usually made up of teams of 3-5. All of the team members ride in the competition except one who acts as the Stable Manager. The Stable Manager helps to support the mounted competitors by helping them with horse care duties and time management as needed.
During rallies, parents are not allowed in the barns to help their children. Instead, Pony Club members work together as a team and help each other (with adult supervision by the Horse Management Judges).
10. What is horse management?
During rallies, each team is required to set up a complete and organized tack room and feed room as well as the stalls for individual horses. Tack rooms, feed rooms, and stalls must have all the required equipment (lists are found in the various Pony Club rulebooks at www.ponyclub.org). Everything must be labeled and in proper cleanliness and condition. Points are taken off for things like dirty tack, missing equipment, failure to keep horse’s stall clean, and unsafe practices. While horse management is a competition, the emphasis is on teaching the Pony Club members through discussion and suggestions rather than on merely looking for things wrong and penalizing them.
Outside the context of rallies, horse management refers to the general care of horses. Pony Club’s emphasis on exceptional horse management makes the Pony Club experience complete—it’s not just about riding! We want our members to know how to take care of their horses responsibly and safely.
11. Do Pony Club members compete in shows sponsored by other riding organizations?
Pony Club, as a group, does not participate in shows. Individual members may choose to participate in shows sponsored by other riding organizations, but do so as an individual not as a Pony Club member.
12. What are parents expected to do in Pony Club?
Pony Club is an all-volunteer organization that is Parent Intensive. We need parents who want to be actively involved with their child. Parents who are not “horsey” will be amazed how much they can learn just by helping with Pony Club.
Parents are expected to accompany children to meetings, to haul or arrange for hauling of the pony to mounted meetings and rallies, and to stay at mounted meetings. Parents may be expected to help set-up or tear-down equipment or to hold ponies. Parents might be asked to volunteer to bring snacks, to help plan meetings, and to help as needed during meetings. Parents also function as elected board members. At rallies, every parent is expected to volunteer for a rally job such as timer, gate keeper, chaperone, etc.
Parents also must be involved in helping their children learn the horse management material from the Pony Club manuals and the rally rules from Pony Club rulebooks as appropriate for their children’s ratings.
13. How do I know if Pony Club is right for our family?
Please come and experience a bit of Pony Club before making the commitment to join. We encourage prospective members and their parent/responsible adult to attend an unmounted meeting or two to check us out before joining. Prospective members may also watch, but not ride in, mounted meetings.