What do Karen O’Conner, David O’Conner, and George Williams have in common? Aside from the obvious, they have all been members of the US Olympic Equestrian Team, they were all graduates of The United States Pony Club.
What does the United States Pony Club offer its participants that make them so much more apt to reach success then other equestrian organizations? The keys seem to be in what it teaches: ability, responsibility, independence, and values.
Through the USPC’s formal instructional program, members learn more about horses and their care than do members of any other American horsemanship organization. Riding activities include combined training (dressage, stadium jumping, cross-country), mounted games, show jumping, dressage (as single activity), vaulting (horseback gymnastics), polo, polo Crosse (combination of polo and lacrosse), foxhunting, and tetrathlon (riding, running, swimming, shooting). A favorite nonriding activity is Know-Down, a verbal quiz bowl in which Pony Clubbers match their knowledge of things equine. Although USPC emphasizes instruction over competition, members do compete with one another at club, regional, and national rallies (Midsouth Pony Club Website)
The basis of Pony Club is knowledge and teaching the members ability. As their knowledge and riding ability improves, the children can go through a rating. There are D, C, B, and A standards of proficiency. D and C levels, are broken into the ratings of D1, D2, D3, C1, C2, and C3. The A also has an HA qualification. ( standards of proficiency )
Another skill taught by Pony Club is responsibility. This begins with, but is not limited to, un-mounted care of the horse. They are not only taught the proper amounts of food and water, but how to discriminate the types of grain and hay. The kids also learn how to identify when a horse may be ill and how to handle the situation. They are encouraged to continually be aware of their environment and be on the look out for unsafe situations, making corrections when necessary.