United States Pony Clubs
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|Purpose||Education in horsemanship|
The United States Pony Club (USPC) is an organization founded in 1954, based on the model of the Pony Club of Great Britain. Headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, the club teaches mainly English riding and horse management.
The word "Pony" in United States Pony Club does not refer to the type of horse allowed in the club, but instead to the fact that their members were required to be younger than 21 upon the establishment of the club. Beginning in 2001, USPC raised the "graduation" age of members to 25 and also added programs on western riding and issues such as land conservation.
Clubs and centers
The USPC has over 600 clubs or centers, and over 10,000 members in the United States. Many programs are offered, such as: eventing, dressage, mounted games, horse management, Quiz (formerly known as Knowdown), polocrosse, show-jumping, tetrathlon polo, and fox hunting. Also included are unmounted meetings where children are taught about the health and care of their horses, which includes instructions on feeding, shoeing, and veterinary care. More experienced Pony Club members help instruct and assist younger members. In fact, as a Pony Club member progresses through the certifications, teaching of fellow pony club members becomes a prerequisite for promotions.
Pony Club has added an adult organization, the Horsemasters Program, for adult volunteers. Horsemasters clubs serve as both a volunteer group to assist with Pony Club activities, as well as its own adult horse riding club.
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Competitions are held annually for: dressage, show jumping, eventing, mounted games, polocrosse, tetrathlon, and Quiz. The competitions are often referred to as rallies and are team competitions. Rallies that involve the care of horses (Quiz is referred to as a "horseless rally") also involve a great deal of horse management: teams usually have a dedicated Stable Manager and are frequently inspected by the judges for the care and presentation of their horses, tack, and stable areas. Horse management scores are factored into the overall placing of the teams.
For the Quiz competition, pony club members' knowledge of horses and their care is tested. There are five components of a Quiz competition: classroom, barn, stations, mega-room, and the written test. In the classroom section, each member is asked questions of a difficulty level corresponding to that member's rating level. Questions cover such areas as equine nutrition, conformation, competition rules, riding skills, veterinary knowledge, and equine first aid. For the barn section, members are taken into a barn (or mock barn) and asked to demonstrate their practical, hands-on knowledge. For example, a member might be asked to identify various pieces of equipment and to demonstrate their use. The stations phase is limited only by the creativity of the organizer: questions can be written, games, hands-on or oral, at the Quiz competition organizer's discretion. All questions in the stations phase are answered as a team - these questions are meant to be more difficult in nature than in those of the classroom phase. Mega-room consists of tables with horse-related items displayed on them where each item must be identified (matched on a given list) by the individuals (no teamwork) under a given time limit. The written test consists of 25 questions and is taken independently. The difficulty of the test varies as specified by the competitor's rating level.
Rallies are held at the regional level and the top competitors in each sport can then choose to participate in the Pony Club National Championships. National Championships are held every year, except for festival years, in various places (for the East coast it is usually held in Lexington, Virginia at the Virginia Horse Center). Every three years, Championships are held at the Kentucky Horse Park along with Festival. This event normally brings over 4,000 Pony Club members and has educational clinics in addition to the competitions.
- "Who We Are". US Pony Clubs. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
- "Welcome to Pony Club!". US Pony Clubs. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
- "E-Newsletter Feb 06". USPC. Archived from the original on 2006-10-08. Retrieved 2006-08-28.
- "Specialty Ratings: Chart". United States Pony Club. Retrieved 2006-08-28.
- "Standards of Proficiency". The United States Pony Club. 16 March 2009.