I had the great privilege to live the Pony Club life. I was in pony club, my sister was in pony club, my best friends were in pony club, my sister's best friends were in pony club, my schoolmates were in pony club, my mom was a Co-DC in pony club, and the highlight of my summers was pony club eventing camp in Radford, Virginia. Some of my best memories were of Pony Club and there isn't a day that goes by now that I don't enlist the help of some notion, some piece of knowledge, or some vital lesson learned from my pony club days.
However, when I look around (and listen) these days, I wonder to myself: where is Pony Club now? My fellow Knoxvillian-eventer-blogger extraordinaire, Leslie Wylie, posted on her blog the other day an announcement that she has stepped up to be the Co-DC of our local pony club, Tennessee Valley PC. I was thrilled to read this and offered -- as fast as my short little fingers could type -- to help Leslie anytime she needs anything. I have always wanted to be involved with the local PC in some way, since I moved here to Knoxville over 10 years ago, but it's existence has always seemed a bit elusive, difficult to track down, and a real challenge to link up with. Now that Leslie is onboard, it'll be easy for me to stay connected, but she has also expressed that her involvement has been too long in the making (for the same reasons as me) as well. I hope that will change and I intend to lend a hand when/how/where I can to make PC a stronger presence in the equestrian community here in K-town.
But, there still remains that all important question: What has happened to Pony Club? Not long ago, I saw a comment thread on an Eventing Nation post that revealed more than a few writers' thoughts, saying, "Stay away from pony club....it's not what it used to be," or "Pony club isn't the answer anymore." Huh??? Then, what has changed? Because in my day....PC was the only answer in a lot of places, and in other instances, it was certainly the best option of anything else available. I'm dismayed to hear that the presence and importance of Pony Club and the Pony Club way have diminished. But, why? Is it that there aren't these pony club barns anymore that foster the organization's values all the time (whether it's an official meeting or not)? Is it that there are more show barns with their own agendas, who simply don't want to adhere to a national organization's oversight or standards? Is it that there are individual trainers out there, who weren't raised in and indoctrinated in Pony Club, who don't want to encourage a "competing" presence that might be at odds with their style or approach to teaching? Is there more of a focus on training, competing, and moving up than on the more meticulous, studious approach to riding and horsemanship that Pony Club embraces? What is it these days that has taken the emphasis away from the Pony Club life?
Like I initially stated, Pony Club was the central influence in my life for a long, long time. I posted a few weeks ago about "All I really need to know about eventing I learned in Kindergarten," although "Kindergarten" in that statement could just as easily be replaced with the words "pony club." Share Everything -- Play Fair -- Clean Up Your Own Mess -- Hold Hands and Stick Together. But, rather than continue to press-upon this point verbally, over and over again, I will let some of my favorite pictures make my case clear. These pictures are like the mental images that run through my mind all the time. They encompass much of my life -- from the age of 8 to 18 -- and they represent the philosophies that Pony Club still strives to teach today: work hard, love your horse, love yourself, and love your friends. Amen!
|Me and my trusty steed, Luzaz, at a Sunday |
afternoon Holston Pony Club meeting.
|First hack of the summer at PC camp in Radford, VA with my sister|
(on our little Palomino pony, Beau), Alexia Schmidt (on the dark bay), and one of
my PC BFFs, Angie Schwab, on her buckskin event horse, Topper.
|Me and Luzaz at camp on show jumping day.|
|My sister and her wonder pony, Beau, at camp jumping through a gymnastic.|
|My friend, Anna, jumping up the "staircase" on cross-country at PC camp.|
|A very satisfied Luzaz after a cross-country school at PC camp.|
|The ultimate pony club mom (bringing goody baskets for |
|My PC buddy, Molly, jumping a course on Luzaz during a "pony|
swap" Pony Club exercise.
|Holston Pony Club members, dressed for the holidays, on a Christmas|
caroling expedition through Forest Hills in Bristol. That's me (left),
Melinda Wick and Lucy (center), and my sister -- riding side-saddle --
(in the back on the right).
|Some of my favorite (well-worn) books from back in|
my PC days (no wonder I ended up an eventer). The evidence of my
geekiness: a team and individual blue ribbon from a long-ago
Roanoke Vally Pony Club KnowDown. Pony Club nerds, unite!
|Team effort: my sister, Melissa, helping me tack up before |
show jumping at PC camp.
|Me and Luzaz working on flying lead changes in a typical pony club |
lesson at Fox Hollow Farm (Bristol, TN). That's Melissa on her
horse, Poppy, going through a gymnastic in the background.
|My PC camp BFF, Marcia Payne and her horse Satisfaction, |
schooling dressage at the Pony Club Festival in Lexington at KHP.
|Marcia in a lesson at the PC festival, riding without |
stirrups (yep, that's "the Pony Club way"!).
|Marcia and Satisfaction schooling a gymnastic at KHP.|
|Marcia schooling cross-country at KHP.|
|Pony Club rally, Lynchburg, VA. I'm riding my sister's pony, Beau.|
|Holston Pony Club at the closing ceremonies. We were third!|
|Me and Beau at the final fence in show jumping, bringing home a double-clear!|
Too bad we had a runout at a rolltop the day before on cross-country or
our team might have finished higher than 3rd. :-)
|A good team after a great weekend!|
|Reaching down to give my (grounded by a XC injury) friend, Tempe,|
a hug after show jumping on the final day at PC eventing camp.
Hold hands and stick together. :-)
|At the end of the day, a Pony Club pony is a happy, healthy pony!|