Eventing is considered by many to be the ultimate test of a horse and rider, and The Pony Club has a long tradition of being the starting point for a large majority of equestrian team members and medal winners including superstars Mary King, William Fox-Pitt, Oliver Townend, Pippa Funnell, Tina Cook and Piggy French.
There are a number of ways riders of all ages can take part in eventing through The Pony Club and there is something for everyone; from fun training and competitions suitable for young Members starting their eventing journey, to high level events held over one or two days for the more experienced who want the opportunity to ride as part of a team or as an individual.
Opportunities to Train
One of the objectives of The Pony Club is to educate its Members, and Members demonstrate the knowledge they learn through the taking of Tests and the gaining of Badges. Badges include the Intro to Eventing Badge for younger or less experienced Members who have a grasp of the basics, and the Eventing Badge which helps older or more experienced Members understand the rules and what is expected of the horse and rider in order to be successful in a competition.
Stonar Eventing Training Days
Stonar Eventing Training Days are designed for Members training towards Pony Club Eventing Level 3 (Novice) or Level 4 (Intermediate). The Day is split into two sessions, and riders begin by working on their balance, position and pace, and learn how to adapt for different fences and terrain. In the second session, riders will build on what they worked on earlier, over a series of cross country fences and practice their new skills, under the watchful eye of a coach.
The Rider Development Pathway
The Rider Development Pathway (RDP) is designed to aid the development of Pony Club Members who show the ability to progress in their sport.
This popular initiative is supported by the Sport England funded BEF Excel Talent Programme, and is open to all Pony Club Members aged 12 years or over who meet the specified minimum criteria in Dressage, Show Jumping or Eventing.
RDP Assessment days are held up and down the UK, and from each of these three riders are selected for the National Rider Development Camp where the RDP Squad is chosen.
The RDP Squad is made up of six riders who will receive further support, including funding for training and the allocation of a sport specific mentor who can help with any competition or training queries and further training opportunities. For 2015, Katie Patrick and Lucy Robinson were chosen from hundreds of applicants to receive expert coaching in the discipline of eventing. Through the training Lucy has set goals to help her achieve her long term aim of riding for Team GBR. Katie, who is in the second year of a course at Hartpury College, is being mentored by Michael Jackson and working towards her goal of riding as part of a Young Rider team.
NFU Mutual Pony Club Mentoring Team
Kindly supported by NFU Mutual, a team of vastly experienced Pony Club Mentors are on hand
throughout The Pony Club Championships to assist competitors and offer a wealth of advice to complement the work of existing coaches.
As well as offering practical riding and training advice, the Mentors can help with any competition worries by working with riders to build confidence so they can perform at their best in the electric championship atmosphere.
Opportunities to Compete
Young Event Horse League
The Young Event Horse League is designed to promote the correct training of young event horses, and provides an opportunity for Members to bring on and compete horses and ponies aged five to seven years old.
Introduced in 2012, the Young Event Horse League has continued annually, and is growing in popularity each year. The league is open to all Members with young horses or ponies who compete at level three (novice) eventing competitions. Points are accumulated throughout the season, with a maximum of 10 being awarded to those who finish the competition on their Dressage score.
Likit Open Eventing League
The Likit Open Eventing League is for Pony Club Members competing at open Level (level 5) eventing competitions. The aim of the league is to encourage Members to compete at this level, and to provide an opportunity for them to prepare for Area Competitions and The Pony Club Championships.
This year, the Likit Open Eventing League attracted hundreds of competitors, taking part in over thirty competitions held across the country. The top ten riders will be presented with their prizes during an exclusive prize giving at event rider Bill Levett’s stables in Gloucestershire. The winners will be treated to a tour of the yard and an informative talk covering event horse feeding and fitness before Bill performs a ridden demonstration.
The Pony Club Stonar Eventing Championships
The Stonar Eventing Area Competitions allow Pony Club Members to qualify for the Stonar Eventing Championships at The Pony Club Championships. There are nineteen Area competitions in total at three levels; Novice, Intermediate and Open.
Members compete for the chance to qualify both in teams and as individuals for the The Pony Club Championships held every August. Kindly sponsored by Weatherbys Private Banking, The Pony Club Championships attract around 1,800 Members taking part in a number of disciplines.
Course walks are scheduled for event riders at Novice, Intermediate and Open level, allowing them to draw on the experience of the mentoring team who are all former Pony Club Members and/or experienced competitors.
The Pony Club
Eventing is one of nine exciting disciplines offered by The Pony Club, and through taking part Members gain courage, determination and all-round riding ability as well as learning how to carefully and systematically train their horses or ponies.
As well as numerous riding and competition opportunities at all levels, Members receive training in horse care and can gain Badges and Tests, right up to the prestigious Pony Club A Test.
Members learn in a fun and unique way; forming lifelong friendships, achieving personal goals and gaining core qualities such as sportsmanship, citizenship and loyalty.
If you are a young person interested in horses and riding, visit The Pony Club website www.pcuk.org for details of your nearest Pony Club Branch, for those who have their own ponies, or Pony Club Centre for those who do not own their own pony.