Shore Riders

FAQ3 How is Pony Club Different?

HOW IS THE U.S. PONY CLUB DIFFERENT FROM OTHER YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS?

Shore Riders Pony Club has monthly mounted and unmounted meetings, just like many other equestrian youth organizations.  However, there are three substantial differences from other organizations:

1)  Total Horseman - The pony club program is unique because its educational programs place equal emphasis on the teaching of riding skills, horse-care, equine and rider safety, and team participation with sportsmanship.    While our members learn to ride they also learn how to care for their horse, ride safely, and cooperate in a team setting.   This emphasis on care, safety, and cooperation is present at all pony club sponsored events;  mounted, unmounted, clinics, competitions, lessons, etc.   

2)  Certification of Skill - The pony club program not only teaches these skills, but also certifies the member's competency with 9 levels of riding certifications, with the top certification, an A, being the ‘eagle scout’ of riding. (these certifications are also referred to as "Ratings")  There are established standards to each level of certification which describe a clear progression of riding and horse management skills that are needed to advance.  Our members proceed though these skills at their own pace, with each level building on the previous.  The upper level certifications are very rigorous and advanced, and thus highly respected in the equestrian world.  Pony Club members ride for fun and sport;  but these certifications are a way of recognizing their accomplishments, and gives them goals for improving, learning, and advancing in their overall horsemanship.  (more on Ratings here)

3) Team Competitions - Generally, with few exceptions (Polo, Polocrosse) equestrian sports are an individual endeavor.     But not in the US Pony Club.  Pony Club competitions are built on the principle of teamwork and education.  At each competition, (called "Rally") the members are on teams.  The teams compete for a team score and all members of the team are equally valuable.   This team concept provides a unique and healthy competition environment for the pony club members.  Here is how it was explained by one of our members:

        "I am also a member of another youth equestrian organization, as are many of my good friends.  We ride together, we lesson together, we trailer together, and we all compete at the same open and qualifying shows sponsored by this other organization.  But even though we love each other like brothers and sisters, when we get to the show grounds I know I am now competing against them.  Their poor performance is to my advantage.  I am secretly wishing they do not do well.  But, that all changes at pony club competitions; we go as a team, set up as a team, compete as a team, and cheer each other on.  At pony club competitions we are rooting for each other.  We want each other to do well!  It feels good."

Additionally, at other non-pony club equestrian competitions the rider is scored only on their performance in the ring and on the course, with the care and safety of the mount and equipment being irrelevant to the competitor's score.  Again, not at pony club competitions.  The final team score is based on the riding score added to a team score for horse/stable management.  All members of your team may have received 1st place in their division, but if their mounts, equipment, and stable area are not clean, safe, and appropriate for the sport, they will not succeed in the competition.  

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