Shore Riders

FAQ4 How Safe is Pony Club?


There are two reasons why you can feel confident the safety of your child is paramount at the United States Pony Club;  Structure and Commitment.


The overall structure of the US Pony Club’s policies and procedures are organized with safety in mind.  

A)     All USPC competitions are CLOSED to non-members.   Pony Club competitions are NOT open competitions;  only members of the U.S. Pony Club may compete.  This may appear to be exclusionary or snobbery;  no, the primary reason for this is SAFETY.    The USPC rules of competition, safety, and horse management are precise.  To keep our members safe at our competitions we need to ensure these rules are followed.  Permitting the participation of riders who do not know, nor are compelled to follow, the same safety procedures would jeopardize the safety of everyone.  

B)     All USPC riders are checked BEFORE mounting.   Ever see a young rider slide off their horse at an open competition because their girth was not sufficiently tightened?  Or watched as a lame or sick horse was kept in the show ring by their young rider because no one checked the mounts?  There are 2 reasons why this is a very rare occurrence at a USPC competition.    

a.      Turnout Inspection/Safety Checks/Turnbacks

b.      Horse Inspection (Jogs) 

       At a USPC competition, no member, regardless of age, experience, or certification level, is permitted to mount their horse before the condition and fit of their horse and tack, and appropriateness of their riding attire has been checked by competition officials.  Mounting your horse before this safety verification is cause for penalty points, or elimination, or in some cases disqualification from the competition.  

C)   USPC members compete at their certified riding level.   USPC competitions are organized, and the divisions defined by, certification level.  For example, the Delmarva region hosts both a D level and C level Show Jumping rally.  A D2 member, certified to jump safely at 18”, may not compete at the C level competition.  Conversely, a C2 member, certified to jump safely at 3’, may not compete against D level riders and thus theoretically clean up at the awards ceremony.  A member may be jumping 7’ stone walls at open competitions, but that same member may only jump at their certified level at a USPC competition*.  This policy removes the pressure from peers, instructors, or parents to “ride faster, jump higher” than the level demonstrated in their USPC certification.  

*There are some deviations to this in some disciplines. 

D)     All USPC members must wear safe mounted attire.    Helmet, heeled footwear that covers the ankle, no loose or protruding jewelry, hair tied back, safety vests on cross country, and medical armband with medical information filled out.  These are young riders.  It’s the rule.  No USPC member rides at a pony club function without following these safe attire rules.  No exceptions.  

E)      All mounts must be at least 5 years old.  Mounts at a US Pony Club mounted function must be at least 5 years old, and may not be a stallion.   



From the USCP National Website:

Since the time of its founding, the Pony Club has led the equestrian community in promoting safe practices in all aspects of horsemanship. Recognizing that riding is an inherently dangerous activity, the USPC Board of Governors endorses the goal to teach safe practices in all Pony Club activities. Pony Club’s commitment to teach safe practices begins at the D-1 and D-2 level when members learn how to safely approach the pony, safely lead, safely tie and safely pick out the feet. These steps are the foundation for learning the safe handling of a very large animal capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to itself or rider/handler. 

Pony Club was the driving force behind the standardization in safety testing of riding helmets. Until recently, the Pony Club was the only equestrian organization that collected data on accidents and incidents that result from horseback riding or working with horses on the ground. 

To further Pony Club’s commitment to safety, the Safety Committee was formed for the purpose of promoting best practices in riding and working with horses and educating those involved with all Pony Club activities in the methods of incident and accident avoidance. A full list of the duties of the National Safety Committee can be found in USPC Policy 2123 and its attachment.

How to Fit a Riding Helmet:


How to Fit A Riding Safety Vest.



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