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My pony club story

My pony club story

A young girl leading a pony.
Member of Yass Pony Club 2011. Photo: Leisa, Pony Club Association of New South Wales.

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For more than 80 years, young Australians have ridden, cared for and had fun with horses at their local pony club. Some have gone on to become Olympic equestrians; others remember it as a great time spent with friends (both two-legged and four).

Contributions will feature in the exhibition, which opens in Canberra in September 2014, and on our website. A small number of contributions may also be selected to be featured on the Australian Broadcasting Commission's (ABC's) Bush Telegraph website or radio program.

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Your stories and photos

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Blue Day
Blue Day
Ellie's story: This is me and my 15.2hh thoroughbred Ricky. This photo was taken at Murrumbateman Pony Club and I had spray[ed] painted blue patterns on him because everyone was dressing up in blue for Beyondblue.
I have been riding since 2003 and started pony club in 2011 when I got my first pony. I have improved heaps since then and know that I will keep improving. I have had Ricky for almost two years now and whilst we have had our ups and downs, we are steadily improving together.
One of the most fun things about pony club is the annual, week long zone 16 pony club camp in April. I learnt heaps, made new friends and enjoyed the experience of waking up very early every morning to a full on day of riding.
Pony Club is a such a great organisation because there is so much camaraderie and you learn heaps off the fantastic instructors and by just watching other people ride.


What i get out of Pony Club
What i get out of Pony Club
Brianna Smith's story: Hi my name is Brianna Smith, I am 14 years old and I started pony club when I was 8 years old at Gearys Gap Pony Club. When I started pony club I was still on a lead rein and worried if my parents were more than 5 meters away. Now I am a competitive eventer thanks to the quality instruction and support that has been given to me through pony club.
My favourite thing about pony club is our annual zone 16 camp. We spend 7 days at Bungendore showgrounds trying different disciplines like polo, tent pegging and horse ball as well as better known disciplines like dressage, X-country, showjumping, games, sporting, polo-cross and flat-work. We have a lot of great instructors every year who love to come to camp including Trevor Morris, Andrew Haddad, Gina Haddad, Hayley Smith and many more. Over 200 riders attended camp sleeping at the grounds every night some people choose to sleep in tents or trucks while most sleep in the dormitories with friends. I can’t wait till next camp!!!!!
My greatest achievement through pony club was representing zone 16 in the annual state championships for eventing in 2014. It was the first time I had ever placed in a state event, Macca and I won 3rd place for the 12 to 15yr old advanced division which was B grade (equivalent of prelim EA, 95cm). It was truly been my proudest moment.
Without pony club I would not be were I am today I would still probably be a scared, nervous starting to compete for the first time ever. I can’t wait to get my instructors license and come back to pony club helping younger riders rise to be champions.


Beaufort Pony Club made me an Equestrian!
Beaufort Pony Club made me an Equestrian!
Fiona Ludbrook's story: I first began riding at the age of five or six, when my parents finally gave in to me requests to learn to ride, then get a pony of my own.

By the time I was eight, I was regularly attending the Beaufort Pony Club, with my own horse. First came Trixi, a classic school-childs pony. Trixi was a dear, quiet, reliable old exmoor mare, who was perfect for gaining my confidence on. At Pony Club, we learned the basics, like parts of a horse, correct hoof care, saddling up, mounting and perfecting our seat. We began schooling over cavaletti and low jumps, as well as quite a few games, like cushion polo and musical chairs. But Trixi had her limitations and I was ready to take on a mount with more go and flexibility!

Roly came into my life at that point. He was a grey Australian Pony, Welsh Mountain Pony cross, by a well known local sire Mighty Fine. Like his dad, he had wall eyes. He was a rescue pony and arrived with all his " poverty lines" showing. His hooves were in an equally sad state, but by the following year, Roly and I made our debut onto the local show and gymkhana circuit, with considerable success.

Meanwhile at Pony Club, we progressed further along the path of equitation. We began our early instruction in riding on the flat, doing dressage, showjumping and cross country.

We always had inspiring, knowledgable instructors, beginning with Dulcie Crick and continuing on with her sister, Shirley Boyle, we were in expert hands. Other parents would assist with some instruction, including Margaret Sutton and Mr Lofts. Meanwhile, My dad would be on hand, to light the barbecues, help with setting up jumps as well as serving as my assistant strapper and horse transporter.

Eventually I outgrew Roly. By that stage I had decided that dressage was my favourite pursuit and I needed a highly responsive mount, that had the gaits and temperament, to cope with this discilpline at an advanced level. After months of looking at horse all over Victoria, I finally met my part bred Arab mare, Yasminya; it was love at first sight, for both of us.

Minya and I progressed in skill development to achieve magnificent sitting trot, extended trot and even passage. Meanwhile, I continued to develop a circle of friends, many from Beaufort Pony Club, as well as other friends from school.

The skills I had developed at Pony Club, I was able to pass on, assistig many friends to both learn to ride themselves or, to improve their seat and skills as horsewomen.

Over the years we enjoyed wonderful rides along local roads and through the bush. We competed at local shows and gymkhanas, as well as for Pony Club eventing and jumping competitions. We sought out further instruction, that saw us and our horses having fantastic times at Yamba Riding School Camps. We learned responsibility, good sportsmanship, care of our animals and take and complex grooming techniques.

It has been many years since I have had a horse of my own. I still miss owning and riding my own horses, taking every opportunity I can even to smell a horse.

I have Beaufort Pony Club to thank, for nurturing my equine skills and passions along to a highly competent and specialist level. My room was wallpapered with the ribbons of official success, but the passionate bond between horse and rider is something that surpasses even that. Lucky too, my parents supported me all the way!


PCANSW State Eventing Championships 2014
PCANSW State Eventing Championships 2014
Bri Smith's story: Hi my name is Brianna Smith, I am 14 years old and I started pony club when I was 8 years old at Gearys Gap Pony Club. When I started pony club I was still on a lead rein and worried if my parents were more than 5 meters away. Now I am a competitive eventer thanks to the quality instruction and support that has been given to me through pony club.
My favourite thing about pony club is our annual zone 16 camp. We spend 7 days at Bungendore showgrounds trying different disciplines like polo, tent pegging and horse ball as well as better known disciplines like dressage, X-country, showjumping, games, sporting, polo-cross and flat-work. We have a lot of great instructors every year who love to come to camp including Trevor Morris, Andrew Haddad, Gina Haddad, Hayley Smith and many more. Over 200 riders attended camp sleeping at the grounds every night some people choose to sleep in tents or trucks while most sleep in the dormitories with friends. I can’t wait till next camp!!!!!
My greatest achievement through pony club was representing zone 16 in the annual state championships for eventing in 2014. It was the first time I had ever placed in a state event, Macca and I won 3rd place for the 12 to 15yr old advanced division which was B grade (equivalent of prelim EA, 95cm). It was truly been my proudest moment.
Without pony club I would not be were I am today I would still probably be a scared, nervous starting to compete for the first time ever. I can’t wait to get my instructors license and come back to pony club helping younger riders rise to be champions.


Sparkles and I
Sparkles and I
My pony camp is unique. My pony camp is called Kingstown and is set on a working property called Calowrie in rural NSW. It’s a week-long filled with equine disciplines and an opportunity to improve your skills as a rider and a person. You camp on the property, eat in the communal kitchen and ride your horses in the big bare paddocks.
I am actually from Newcastle but my family live in the country. Pony camp was a chance to see everyone, literally every second of the day. It was also a time to ride and spend time around horses, something a city girl like me loved.
It started on the first Sunday of the September holidays. Over the six years I went to Kingstown, I saw it in drought and lush green. I rode five horses and felt the joy and pride that motivates the horse rider. I also felt the frustration and lack of cooperation working with strong-willed, able-bodied and smart horses. I felt the burning sun and lashing wind during the day and the toe-curling frosts at night, sleeping in a tent.
As a city girl I didn’t do much riding except in the holidays and riding classes so going to Pony Camp really challenged me. An intense week of finding you and your horse’s weaknesses, of sportsmanship, encouragement of others and the community spirit was very strong at Kingstown. We did a variety of activities; dressage, sporting, cross country in the huge paddocks, campdrafting, team penning, tent pegging, horse ball, polo crosse and jumping.
As well as catching up with family, I discovered some absolutely beautiful people there, people who really made the atmosphere of pony camp so incredibly special. We all specialised in different equine activities, we lived in different areas, we all laughed at our horses and our mistakes, ate our meals together and saddled up together. Kingstown always had an inaugural dress-up day with a theme. We tested our horse’s patience and dressed up as madly as we could, decorating them as much as they would tolerate. We had a mounted games competition and all tried to outdo each other with speed and skill.
At the end of the week there was a Gymkhana Day. Everyone spent hours primping their horses- the night before and morning of. There was ringcraft in the morning and sporting in the afternoon. In between was the Musical Ride- something reserved for the older and more experienced rider, choreography of movement to music. By the end of the week human and horse were so busy trying to conserve energy that as little effort as possible as they could manage.
Pony Camp taught me won me many things more priceless than trophy- lifelong special friends, time with my family, allowed me to spend time around my beloved horses and a cherished six years that I will never forget.


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Your stories

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Jacquelene

24 Sep 2014
'Is your mother here with you ?' Standing with my baby son on my hip at the canteen of the Forrest Hills Pony Club (Duffys Forest, Sydney) I said 'I am a mother'. I was 24 beginning my first only year of Pony Club - the age rule kicked in at 25. Coming late to the sport I was pretty hopeless at the games. 'Fatty' my lovely Arabian thought any speed over a slow canter was undignified. But in 1989 we had the time of our lives. I was nearly 10 years older than the next member, but the children were welcoming. There was a fabulous philosophy of mucking in, encouragement; looking out for one another. And getting back on if you fell. Broken bones were fixed later. Pony Club mums (members) are tough!

Ray

18 Aug 2014
My story is about Guyra Pony Club and the achievements of those that have competed in and for the club.
Guyra Pony Club has only ever been a small club with numbers varying from 22 in the 1960's to about 70 at it's peak. The average would be about 40. The Club had their first camp in 1959 and have run annually ever since. Guyra also has various activities throughout the year.We are only a small town of about 2500 residents plus the surrounding district. The club relies heavily on the rural people of the area and it's fortunes tend to fluctuate with the agricultural sector.
The sporting achievements of our club members,after progressing through the ranks,probably would be unrivaled any club in Australia. I will give a brief summary of the achievements with the member's names attached.
Dianne Newberry (nee Mulligan)
Many Royal Show Champions in Hacking and Riding Classes and ASHS Events including Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. Also Director of ASHS.

Ray Mulligan, Phillip Snell Dean Mulligan and Peter Mills.
Numerous Australian Championships in various Rodeo events.Also between them they have represented Australia at Calgary Stampede as well as representing NSW and holding records in the timed events.

Campdrafting. Ray Mulligan rode for Qld in State of Origin Campdraft winning the Cut-Out.

Polocrosse: The Grills family have fourteen members who have represented Australia, both here and Overseas.Peter, Roger,Lucy, Jim, Ben, Brad, Adam, Dean, Abbott,Matthew, Gabby, Sarah and Rebecca have all been representatives.
Charlie Grills has also been a Coach for Australia when Overseas and coached Canada at the World Cup.
Harry Kirk, also a member of this family has played for Australia.

Tim & Gemma Rice won numerous Showjumping events(NSW Pony Club C'ships).
Neil Harvey (Home Member Armidale PC) Australian elite showjumper and Record Holder, always attended Guyra Pony Club Camp to gain extra instruction.

Lindsay Mulligan went on to make his mark as a topline cricketer representing : Australian Emus NZ tour 1973 & Australian Emus World tour 1974.

These are some of the sporting highlights of this small club and do not include many, many awards at regional and up to state level. Also, quite a number of very good riders have been unable to continue after leaving school due to career commitments. I believe the Guyra Pony Club can take a large amount of the credit for putting these members on the road to great achievement in the sporting world as well as being great citizens.

Kesley

17 Aug 2014
my first pony club experience was when I was 14. I had joined as a saddle club member where I rode a horse if there was one spare and usually there was. It wasn't until I was 15 that I leased a gelding off a family friend that I started seriously competing in Sporting, Hacking and Cross Country. During my time at Pony Club I had a jumping accident which put a stop to advancing in show jumping due to a back injury but I still rode in other events. I have always been interested in horses since I was 5 years old and before I started riding at Pony Club I went with a friend and watched her ride and that was what encouraged me to finally join. The people that I met during my time at Milton Pony Club I will always think of because they helped me learn. The horses that were there were the most friendly horses people would love to meet. My 42 year old uncle who has severe Downs Syndrome came to pony club and helped me with my horse Leo, I saw his carers the next day and they said that he loved being at Pony Club and wanted to go back the next day. unfortunately I had to stop Pony Club when I was 16 due to work and by back but I will forever enjoy my memories at Milton Pony Club. I am now 18.

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