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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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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.

Cross Country
Cross Country
Michala's story: I've been riding for 11 years and going to Kurrajong pony club for a year in zone 19. I have been riding since 5 years old and started pony club at 6 years old. I used to go to Blacktown pony club and rode for 10 years. At pony club I love to try new activates and try my hardest at everything. My favourite thing to do when I’m riding is to compete in zone events because when I competions I want to try to beat myself and see if I do better than the year before. Next year I am hoping to get grading for show jumping and cross-country for E grade then D.

Phoebe and Magic in a Flatwork Lesson at Pony Club
Phoebe and Magic in a Flatwork Lesson at Pony Club
Phoebe and Magic's story: I have been a member of Geary's Gap Pony Club, in Zone 16, since I was six. I was very sad when I grew too big for my pony, Zeta, but I now have a lovely quarter horse called Magic. We like going to gymkhanas and shows, but our favourite thing to do is jumping, especially eventing.

We have so much fun at pony club, with our friends. Another thing we like to do together is go to Zone 16 pony club camp in April, where we get to try heaps of fun and exciting activities, like polo, horseball, tent pegging, cross country and vaulting.

The community at pony club is amazing, the lessons are fun and everyone is really friendly. Magic sometimes doesn't like travelling on the float, so we started riding to pony club. My friends and cousin decided to ride with us and now there are seven of us who ride to pony club rally days.

Before I got Magic she hadn't been ridden in three years and came with a foal, called Ellie. After Ellie was weaned I had to start working Magic and getting her fit slowly, as I was worried that she would find pony club too tiring, but she loves it and always looks forward to rally days as much as I do, so much so that I have to teach her to slow down, especially in the jumping arena and on the cross country course.

Grace's story: I started riding at Geary's Gap Pony Club when I was 4 years old and I have loved every moment of it. My horse, Scout is my 4th horse since joining pony club he is an amazing show jumper and loves his licorice. I don't know what I would do without horses they are a big part of my life. I love all disciplines of horse riding especially eventing. My horse Scout is a gentle loving horse and our bond couldn't be stronger. I love having a horse to give me a responsibility and lots of great expieriences.

Lia and Delilah
Lia and Delilah
Written by Lia Gaspari's story: I've been riding at pony club ever since I was 3 years old. I am now up to my 3rd pony Delilah who I got in January. I recently came overall champion at 2014 Sutton gymkhana. I really enjoy sporting and my favourite one is the barrels. I also like the jumping and I do lots of practice at home and now I am hoping to move up to D grade.

I really love horses and they have been a major part of my life, I can't imagine my life without them.

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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!


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.


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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