striped polos Rolling Rock Hunt Pony Club teaches kids confidence and responsibility
Service by providing an opportunity for members, parents, and others to support the pony club program locally, regionally and nationally through volunteerism.”It a leadership building program with the horse to help you get there,” says longtime member Anna Viazanko, 21, from Mt. Pleasant. “I remember looking up to the older kids when I was little, and now I want to give back. Pony club gives back to you in so many ways.”Members learn everything from the basics of how to mount and dismount a horse to the proper care for the animal daily needs.”Being in pony club builds self esteem,” says Lynne Donnelly of Donegal, who has been involved with the club for six years, including as a prior district commissioner for four years. “It is important for the children to know about the horse in terms of nutrition, how to exercise the horse, its anatomy. They are responsible for the care of the horse. They keep a record book on the horse. There is a lot more to it than just riding.”Starting in May through September, pony club members attend lessons on Thursday evenings as well as what are referred to as “fun nights” on Tuesday evenings. There are other events throughout the summer and some activities in the winter, some mounted and some unmounted. Pony Clubs Inc. was formed in 1954. The ages of members can range from 6 to 25; current members at Rolling Rock are 8 to 21. Pony Clubs Inc. Pony Clubs.”Since that time, pony club has strengthened programming to meet the needs of today equestrians and is now available to and accessible by an inter generational community of equine enthusiasts through multiple means of delivery,” Wilson says. “Many of the nation top equestrians, including several of our Olympic team members, business professionals, government leaders and career military officers, have roots in pony club.”Some members own their horses while others lease animals, which can be free or up to a couple hundred dollars a month. The cost to join the national association is $140 and local dues are $150. Extra lessons cost $150. Camps are an additional fee.”The irony is that while some people think of pony club as an elite group, others consider pony club to be ‘backyard and therefore have quite the opposite view,” Wilson says. “The reality is that while some members ride very fancy, well trained horse in new or expensive tack, many others are riding horses they obtained inexpensively and have developed themselves.”Even without a horse, there are many avenues within pony club for a member to learn and participate through unmounted horse management lessons, progression through the standards of proficiency in the horse management track, even rally participation as a team stable manager.Belonging to pony club has been a wonderful experience for cyber schooler Kendra Biery, 17, of Boswell. She says the structure to the club is important and it keeps her focused.”It a great way to learn about horses,” Biery says. “They teach us so much. You learn to train your horse. There is a lot of camaraderie. You share with a lot of people who know a lot about horses and who share your love of pony club.”It teaches you responsibility,” says Biery. “And it not always easy. Anyone who says they haven fallen off a horse, there is reason to be suspicious.”Long lasting friendships are formed through pony club, says Alicia Brigode, 14, an eighth grader at Latrobe. “We talk about our horses, and we become good friends, learn good manners and horsemanship,” Brigode says.Pony club can open a lot of doors, says Lynne Donnelly daughter, Miranda, 12, a sixth grader from Latrobe. It requires a lot of teamwork and the opportunity to take it to the next level or even the highest level, the Olympics.”Horsemanship is very important in pony club,” she says. “And even if you don compete on the highest level, there are other pathways to take such as becoming a veterinarian or a farrier.”The basic equipment includes a helmet, riding boots, saddle, bridle, breeches and a grooming kit.The minimum age of a horse is 5, but a lot are between 9 and 16. The ponies people lease are usually older, which are ideal for beginners. Breeds range from a quarterhorse to a thoroughbred to a trakehner.”The pony club offers many things,” says Colin Tilzey of Greensburg, district commissioner for the pony club. “It is the only horse organization that offers a combination of horse riding and horse management training, instruction and certification. Pony club has many levels to it and you can join and enjoy it at the local level, compete in regional and national competitions as well as compete in international exchanges.”The club caters to all horse activities from dressage, through show jumping, cross country, tetrathon, polo cross and vaulting.