About the United States Pony Club
The United States Pony Clubs, Inc., develops character, leadership, confidence and a sense of community in youth through a program that teaches the care of horses and ponies,riding and mounted sports. Pony club offers a variety of equestrian sports including, Eventing, Show jumping, Dressage, Western, polocrosse, vaulting, Foxhunting, Games, Quiz, Tetrathalon, and more!
What Makes Pony Club Different?
The mission of Pony Club is to "develop character, leadership, confidence and a sense of community in youth through a program that teaches the care of horses and ponies, riding and mounted sports.” Members of USPC have joined an organization dedicated to producing well-rounded horsemen and women and one that has produced many of the past and current Olympic and International riders.
USPC is unique because its educational programs place equal emphasis on the teaching of riding skills, horse-care fundamentals, and team participation with sportsmanship. From the moment youth join USPC until they graduate, they are part of a broad network of activities and educational programs that promote the health and safety of both horse and rider. USPC is dedicated to developing knowledgeable, competent, responsible, and caring horsemen.
Standards of Proficiency
The USPC Standards of Proficiency provide a core curriculum for individualized instruction. Clubs and centers use the Standards as a plan for instruction programs. The Standards describe a clear progression of skills in riding and Horse Management and provide opportunities for goal setting, as members are encouraged to proceed though those skills at a pace that is comfortable for them. Riding is something we do for fun! Certifications are given in an effort to recognize achievements and encourage members to gain confidence, independence and good safety habits while working with mounts. Goal setting, teaching and testing are good ways to accomplish this purpose.
One of the things that separates Pony Club from other youth equestrian organizations is the emphasis that is placed on Horse Management. While members learn how to ride, they also learn how to care for their pony or horse. All clubs have a Horse Management program designed to teach skills and provide knowledge as members progress through the certification levels.
A concern for safety is an important part of the foundation of USPC. Ours was the first equine organization to require its members to wear safety helmets. Our guiding beliefs regarding safety reach into every aspect of the organization. Volunteers and staff make safety a priority.
What Do Members Do In Pony Club?
Pony Club members participate in mounted meetings where the basics of riding skills are stressed and taught continually at all levels. All clubs and centers try to organize a program that is fun, educational and interesting to younger and older members. Mounted meetings are often structured so that older, upper-level members who are serious about setting and pursuing their goals may practice at their own level of intensity. Younger members are offered lots of fun mixed in with educational opportunities. In addition to the mounted meetings, there are also unmounted meetings that are often structured around Horse Management instruction. Some examples of lessons are: feed (cost and type), shoeing, vet visits, temperature, pulse and respiratory rate, training schedules, tack (types, care, fitting, construction, use), breeds of horses and ponies, safety issues, grooming, loading and hauling, First Aid, breeding/foaling, stable manners, under-standing horse sports, and so much more.
Horse people generally recognize USPC members by their responsible and complete approach to horse care. Members should be proud of their Horse Management; it sets USPC apart from all other horse/riding organizations.
Through participation in club and center activities, members begin to work their way up through the certificate levels established by the Standards of Proficiency. At a certification members demonstrate their riding and Horse Management skills.
Another wonderful part of being a Pony Club member is participating in competitive rallies. Pony Club rallies provide an opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in an atmosphere of cooperation, fun and teamwork. A rally allows Pony Club members to test their skills against others. In addition, rallies are educational experiences that expose participants to new ideas and ways of doing things.
Cooperation, confidence, and leadership are all traits that Pony Club develops in its members and these are best built up through teaching. Teaching is the best way for members to work together, gain self-confidence in their skills, and learn how to lead others. It is also a great way to really cement what they have learned.
Peer-to-peer teaching is a very important part of Pony Club. Most clubs and centers have a mentoring program in place where an older Pony Club member is assigned to a younger member. The older member can answer questions (or refer the question to someone who can), encourage participation, explain the intricacies of Pony Club, and to just "be there” for the new member. As new members become integrated into the club or center and progress in their learning, they in turn are expected to help newer and younger members.
As members reach the C level, they will begin to learn how to formally teach. They will begin with teaching Horse Management skills and advance to teaching riding skills. With the help of instructors and other adults in the club or center, members will learn how to make and implement a lesson plan, how to handle the unexpected (i.e., uncooperative mount, distressed child, etc.), how to evaluate the progress of students, and so much more.