The Pony Club has been around for 85 years and has been the starting point for a large number of equestrians. It is one of sixteen organisations that form the British Equestrian Federation (BEF).
The Pony Club is divided into nineteen areas, each of which is subdivided into branches dependent on location. There are approximately 345 branches and 540 centres in the UK alone. Now international, The Pony Club is represented in over 27 countries worldwide and has a total of 110,000 members.
There are two types of Pony Club membership available. Those who do not own a horse or pony can still participate in events by joining a centre at a local riding school. Branch memberships are open to those who have their own, or use of a horse or pony and can enter events.
The main objectives of The Pony Club, taken from their website, are as follows:
- To encourage young people to ride, learn and enjoy all kinds of sport connected to horses and riding
- To give instruction in riding and horsemastership and to educate members to look after and take proper care of their animal
- To promote the highest ideals of sportsmanship, citizenship and loyalty
- To create strength of character and self-discipline
There are nine different disciplines within The Pony Club. These consist of showjumping, eventing, dressage, polo, polocrosse, tetrathlon, mounted games, endurance and pony racing. This wide range of events allows members to have a go at a variety of disciplines within the sport.
The Pony Club comprises many levels of competition, from unaffiliated events to National Championship qualifications — the highest level of competition within The Pony Club. These events are often used as an initial platform for many riders who will go on to compete internationally in the future.
Members are also encouraged to broaden their equestrian knowledge and partake in tests and achievement badges. The efficiency tests begin at E and progress to the A test. These tests must be completed in progression, however the E and B+ tests are optional. The riding and road safety test must also be completed, which ensures that members have the necessary knowledge to ride a horse or pony safely on the road. The progressive tests allow members to work towards tests in between efficiency test levels E and C+. There are four levels of progressive tests; bronze, silver, gold and platinum.