Saturday September 19, 2020
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This page is an attempt at providing some of the information often requested by new (and some not so new) members. We hope you like it but please let us have your suggestions for improvement.


What is the Pony Club?

An organisation for young riders, which used to be a part of the British Horse Society but is now an independent charity. It was founded in England in 1929 and now has members all over the world.

How is the Pony Club organised in this country?

It is divided into branches. The branches are grouped geographically into 19 areas. Southdown East is in Area 11. It is one of the biggest branches in the country.

Who may join?

Those up to the age of 25 who are interested in improving their knowledge of pony care and riding skills.

Why is membership of the Pony Club valuable?

The main reason is that it can make you a better rider and help you to look after your pony properly.  If you are new to pony ownership, you may not know where to seek advice.  As a Pony Club member, you are welcome to ask any Pony Club official for help, and this will be given free.  Pony Club membership also introduces you to riding competitions and offers you opportunities to train for teams and to take part in inter-branch contests.  Furthermore, you get third party insurance.

Do I have to have my own pony to join?

No, it is not essential to own your own pony but your ability to take part in all Pony Club activities will clearly be restricted.  Most members, however, are very generous and will lend their ponies from time to time. If you are thinking of buying a pony, it is a good idea to join the Pony Club first as you will be able to get free advice on choosing the right type of pony for you.

How much does membership cost?

The annual subscription, which is decided by Headquarters, is at present (2016) £70 (New Members joining after July 1st pay £45 for the remainder of the year).  There is also an annual Branch Administration Fee of £3.50 to help with overheads.  Family membership is also available at reduced rates, and Pony Club ties and badges are available from the Treasurer.  Branch sweatshirts etc are available from Charlotte Russell.

Who runs the branch?

A committee headed by the District Commissioner.  All are volunteers.  Only some of the instructors are paid for their services. The Southdown East branch has a hardworking core of volunteer supporters (newcomers very welcome) and we run a number of events over the year to raise funds.  We have raised a great deal of money over the years and, as a result, this branch is very well equipped.  We now own a good selection of show jumps and trailers on which to transport them, caravans to house the scorers, caterers and commentators at events and many other useful items.  However, help of all kinds is always needed with organising shows, providing catering or joining a working party to re-paint and refurbish jumps, etc.

How are activities arranged?

Several times a year, the rally organisers meet to draw up a programme of activities for the coming school holidays. The programme is published on our website and emailed to every member together with other items such as entry forms for various shows and competitions.

What activities are there?

Most Pony Club activities take place during school holidays. There are rallies, camps, competitions, shows, jumble sales (we need the money!), bring-and-buy sales of second hand tack and clothing, etc. As mentioned later on, there are the Area Competitions, which can lead to participation in National Finals. However, there are plenty of locally organised shows and competitions in which riders of all levels can participate: one-day events, hunter trials, combined training, dressage, mounted games and so on. We have built at Wivelsden Farm a very good cross-country course with jumps at various heights to suit all abilities.

How do I know what is going on?

The programme organiser puts together a list of activities covering school holidays but other activities are arranged throughout the year.  The main channel of communication is e-mail so it is vital you let the branch know which address(es) to contact you on.  If you don’t have an e-mail address let eh Membership Secretary know and we will send you the programme’s by post.

The programme, details of events and other activities are posted on the branch website – that’s where you are now!

For those addicted to facebook we are there too!

What is a rally?

A get-together of members. The most important is the working rally at which instruction is given. Members attending the rally are split into groups according to the standard of riding they have reached. Some working rallies, such as those dealing with stable management, may be dismounted. Fun rallies are light-hearted meetings without instruction, such as scavenger hunts. Members and their ponies must attend a requisite number of working rallies (usually three) before they can represent their branch in an Area Competition.

How much does it cost to go to a rally?

Attendance at rallies is generally charged at £7.50 per hour but sometimes more where specailist facilities are used (fo example hiring a cross country course).   More often, members will be asked to contribute towards the cost of hiring an instructor and/or an all-weather school. If a coach outing is arranged, to Christmas show jumping at Olympia, for example, there will be a charge to cover the tickets and travel. Members also have to pay to attend Camp.

What is a rally card?

Members are issued initially with pink rally cards on which a record is made of each working rally they attend. When ten rallies have been recorded, the member is given a metal star to wear and a new, blue, card. It takes fifteen more rally attendances to complete the blue card for another star and another blue card. It is possible to gain a large number of stars!

What about dress?

Members are expected to dress smartly at rallies. Every rider should wear clean jodhpurs, plain white or pastel coloured shirt, Pony Club tie, tweed jacket and clean jodhpur boots. If a jacket is not available then a Southdown East sweatshirt may be worn. Headgear must conform to Pony Club regulations which are continually being updated as standards of safety rise.  Due to recent changes in certification please refer the Hat Rules page on the main Pony Club website as some hats may no longer be used beyond the end of 2015.   These should be covered with velvet or a plain black or dark blue silk.  The hats must be fitted with chin-straps which should be fastened whenever the wearer is mounted.   Members should not wear dark blue or black showing jackets.  Long boots may be worn if the rider does not own jodhpur boots, but all members should try to obtain jodhpur boots.  At fun rallies, anoraks or branch sweatshirts may be used instead of jackets, but members should always check first with the rally organiser.  Second-hand riding clothing is often available via the branch.

And my Pony?

Obviously, you are expected to turn up with your pony clean and well groomed. The tack should fit properly and be safe, not frayed or split.

What is Camp?

Camp is usually held at Plumpton Racecourse in July and is residential for both ponies and riders. The ponies use the racecourse stables and the members sleep and eat in the racecourse buildings. Apart from instruction, fun activities are arranged. Camp offers a wonderful opportunity to make new friends.

What is Junior Camp?

Junior Camp is for members who are too old for Mini-Camp (see below) but not quite up to the main Camp. Currently it’s five days at Plumpton Racecourse. The members go home every night with their ponies.

What is Mini-Camp?

The first Mini-Camp was held in 1989 and remains a popular item on our calendar. It is for very young members who are too young to go even to Junior Camp. It covers four days of instruction and fun, also at Plumpton Racecourse. The members go home every night with their ponies.

What is the coloured disc that many members wear under their badge?

The disc shows that the member has passed one of the Pony Club tests and has achieved the level of proficiency indicated by the colour of the disc. The lowest level is E Test (pale yellow) and standards progress through D Test (yellow), D+ Test (white), C Test (green), C+ Test (pink), Horse & Pony Care section of B Test (brown), Riding section of B Test (fawn), B Test (red)and, highest of all, A Test (blue) or A Test with Honours (purple). Certificates are also awarded for each test passed. The tests involve not only riding skills but an appreciation of tack and a knowledge of stable management and care of ponies.

What competitions are organised by the Pony Club?

There are a number of inter-branch competitions at Area level, usually held in late July or early August. The winners, and sometimes the runners-up, qualify for the Championships which take place at the end of the summer holidays. Members may compete as part of a branch team or, in some disciplines, as individuals. The following disciplines all have their own Area Competitions leading to Championships: Horse Trials, Show Jumping, Dressage, Polo and Tetrathlon (Shooting, Swimming, Running and Riding). In Mounted Games, Area Competitions take place in April and May, followed by Zone Finals in August and the Prince Philip Cup Competition at the Horse of the Year Show in October. Polocrosse (a form of lacrosse on horseback) is growing in popularity.

Can the Pony Club help ambitious riders in a practical way?

For older members, the Pony Club has a number of sponsored scholarships. These can be very helpful to young riders who would like to take up an equestrian career but do not have adequate resources. Applicants for scholarships are nominated in the first instance by their branch’s District Commissioner.

How do I find out whom to contact for the various Pony Club activities?
The regular holiday programme gives the names and addresses of committee members and rally organisers. Any of these may be telephoned for help and advice but PLEASE try not to ring late in the evenings or at weekends. Please book places at rallies as early as possible and PLEASE cancel your place in good time if you cannot attend, so that somebody else on the waiting list has a chance to go in your place.

How can parents help?

Parents do not have to be experienced horsemen and women to be able to contribute a great deal to the successful running of a branch. Members of the committee are delighted to receive offers of help which can be given in a number of ways. Some of the areas where help is always needed include:
a) Towing a trailer-load of jumps to and from Camp or a show.
b) Building a show-jumping course (under instruction).
c) Roping off rings or dressage arenas.
d) Dismantling show jumps and loading and unloading trailers.
e) Helping with catering on the day of a show.
e) Fence judging and stewarding.
g) Organising the car parking at events.

What is an Associate Member?

If you join or re-join the Pony Club for the year following your eighteenth birthday, you become known as an Associate Member and you are entitled to wear a special tie and badge.

Where is the Headquarters?

At Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire. A little under 50 per cent of your subscription goes to Headquarters to cover administrative expenses and they levy more money towards your third party insurance. Headquarters is responsible for laying down guidelines for good riding and for drawing up the rules for the many different competitions organised by the Pony Club.

What is the connection between the Pony Club and Hunting?

When the Pony Club was formed, the main aim was to encourage young riders to take an interest in hunting, thus safeguarding the future of hunting in the British Isles.  The early branches were all junior sections of the Hunts and the areas they covered corresponded to the country hunted by each Hunt.  However, as the Pony Club expanded, many branches split into smaller branches but, in most cases, the name of Hunt with which they were connected was retained. Today, as Hunts have amalgamated, many Hunts have more than one Pony Club within their country.  For example, the Eridge, Southdown West and Southdown East branches are all in the country hunted by the Southdown and Eridge Hunt. It should be stressed that members’ participation in hunting is entirely a matter of choice.

Want to know more?

Have a look at the main Pony Club website.

Revised in March 2016