WINDSOR — Is your horse-crazy kid nagging you about riding lessons? Or, are you looking for a way to teach your child about responsibility, accountability, team work and sportsmanship (while having a lot of fun)? If so, the local pony club may be able to help.
“The Avon Pony Club has a 40-year history of helping young horse lovers become confident equestrians and horse people,” says Avon Pony Club District Commissioner Rachel Bedingfield.
“Pony Club is all about the basics — learning how to take care of your horse, and ride safely. We have a lot of fun too,” she said.
Bedingfield should know — she grew up in the Avon Pony Club and now her son is a member.
Avon’s riding and learning programming is based in Windsor. Most of the riding happens at the Hants County Exhibition Grounds during the spring and fall months, with unmounted learning happening at various times throughout the year. There is also a summer camp. People from the ages of six to 25 years old can be part of the Avon Pony Club.
There are numerous activities available to ‘Pony Clubbers’ — from jumping and dressage, to mounted games and quizzes (non-mounted activities where theoretical knowledge is tested). As with most sports, competition is part of the pony club, although members can choose how much they want to compete. Participants who commit to their sport have opportunities to represent their club, their province, and even their country at regional, national and international competitions.
Pony club branches work with competitors to offset the costs of traveling to competitions.
“I had a chance to represent Canada twice on the National Tetrathlon Team,” said Bedingfield, as she recalled her own opportunity to represent Canada in international competition.
Tetrathlon — another event offered through the pony club — combines four different sports: swimming, cross-country running, air pistol shooting and show jumping or eventing.
“To this day, I still keep in touch with friends I made from different parts of the world,” said Bedingfield.
Testing is also an important part and gives members a chance to test their riding skills and horse care knowledge against determined levels. Members start at the “D” level and can work their way up to achieve their “A” level.
“A” level riders are skilled equestrians, capable of running their own barn and training horses.
There are pony clubs all over the world, and the Canadian Pony Club has approximately 2,200 members in 140 branches from coast to coast.
For more information, visit www.canadianponyclub.org; or to find out more information pertaining to the Avon Pony Club, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/avonponyclub/.