Tuesday, November 23, 2010


We were lucky with a fairly warm fall but now winter has set in.  You forget how cold you can get sitting at the barn watching the kids ride, hour after hour!  We have had some great lessons lately.  This week we had longe line lessons and worked on position.  It's amazing how many little things you find that you need to work on!  The kids all have homework assignments for next time and we're already seeing improvement. 

We decided that the Pony Club moms are overwhelmed so we brought in some expert help on our unmounted meetings.  Our older kids are in need of more information that we, and a few guest speakers a year, can give them so we have an A graduate coming in to give the unmounted each month.  This should really beef up our knowledge! 

Even though it's winter we have a busy schedule ahead of us.  We have plans to visit the Portland Racetrack for a tour, a weekend beach retreat, Quiz Rally is coming up sooner than we would think so we have to start our study groups for that.  Oh and riding in the cold, wet and dark....can't forget that! 

For now, we can enjoy the early Thanksgiving gift of snow and remember when we complained this summer that it was too hot.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rating Day

Another day in the life of Pony Club DC!  I was out hauling jumps as the sun was trying to wake up and saw a bunny, a deer and heard an owl.  When I heard the owl I seriously thought I must be crazy to be out there but then again, what better way to start your day? 

The day started off cool and cloudy but the sun finally came out and it was a perfect day for riding.  It is the most wonderful feeling to see how far the kids have progressed in the past year.  It was hard to believe that the youngsters that weren't able to any xc at the beginning of summer were cantering through the woods with smiles on their faces, jumping logs and having fun!  The horses were all good citizens and behaved beautifully.

The day of the rating has a bit of everything; nerves, excitement, stress, fun, joy, and unfortunately it can also have disappointment.  We had candidates that reached their goal of rating up and those that did not. It's always so hard to see the disappointment but we try to remind them just how far they have come to even attempt the rating and of all the things they have accomplished.

It was definitely a Pony Club weekend with a rating on Saturday and mounted lesson on Sunday!  We've moved back to an indoor arena so that means that winter and the rains are on their way.  With a couple weeks of rain in September it seemed like the rain was here for good but we've had a reprieve and it was HOT a few days last week.  We're so lucky to have a barn to ride in for the winter!

Now to get ready for the annual Sponsor's Meeting, the paperwork of the membership renewal and the planning for another year in Mary's Peak Pony Club.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rating Week

We're getting ready for a club rating tomorrow so it's been a busy week for all our kids.  A rating is where members are tested on their skills based on a national testing system.  The riding and knowledge skills get progressively more challenging with each rating, with each rating adding more on to what was required in the previous one. 

Here's an example of how the ratings progress:
D1 -  Name any 10 parts of the horse (such as mane, tail, hoof)
D2 - Name and locate any 15 parts of the horse
D3 - Identify at least 20 parts of the mount, to include withers , hock, fetlock, pastern, gaskin, croup, loins, as well as others.
C1 - Identify good and bad points of basic leg conformation. Describe five common unsoundnesses as to location and outward appearance.
C2 - Name five basic conformation qualities you want in a mount for your own use, and how they affect basic
movement and soundness. Name and locate on a mount the following areas of unsoundness: ringbone, curb, bowed tendons, sidebone, spavin, navicular, splint, thoroughpin, sprains.
HB -  Cause of lameness, location, and inner structure of: Navicular, Sidebone, Ringbone, Splints, Osselets, Bog and bone spavins, Thoroughpins, Curb,  Bowed Tendon,  Bucked shins, Cracks, Corns, Suspensory problems.
H-HA - Lameness associated with listed conformation faults, uses and limitations of horses with listed conformation faults.

So, how did you do?  Our kids know a lot by the time they get to the upper levels of Pony Club!  This is just one section covered in the rating so you can imagine how much preparation it takes to get ready. 

And of course there's always the rest of your life that gets in the way of Pony Club.  This week, while getting ready for the ratings I was sent to Spokane on the spur of the moment for a conference.  That meant driving south an hour to race home and pack, drive back north to work, pick up my co-worker that was going with me, then drive seven more hours.  Then attend a conference (which was well worth the effort!) and leave at noon to drive back.  But it's not just me!  One of our kids lost their Pony Club pin (required to wear at ratings) so there's a scramble to find an extra.  One of the horses in the club fell in the trailer on the way home from a lesson Sunday (he's fine) and a mom ends up in ER to get stitches after getting a hoof in the face (she's fine too).  We have a group of terrific kids and parents in the club that take these things in stride and keep their eye on the prize which is to learn more about riding and caring for their horses and having fun while they do it.  So tonight is a BBQ dinner with the upper level kids and examiner, tack cleaning and horse bathing for two of the members that are currently sharing a horse and then the big day tomorrow where we'll all try to avoid the crazy traffic caused by our OSU Beaver football game (Go BEAVS!) on our way home from the rating.

Good luck to the kids testing tomorrow! 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Welcome to our club blog!

We're launching a blog to share what Pony Club is about and all the fun things our club does.  Most people don't know about Pony Club.  Well, it's not just about ponies!  It's a name, some think it's a silly outdated name, but despite not being well known here on the west coast, it is well known back east and especially in other parts of the world.  We are a part of a worldwide family, not just a little local club on our own in Oregon! 

Pony Club originated in Britain and the name is totally British.  They refer to any equine, no matter what the size, as a "pony" if it is ridden by a child.  It was formed in 1929 in Britain and in 1954 in the U.S. and is known here as the United States Pony Club or USPC. "The mission of the United States Pony Clubs is to provide a program for youth that teaches riding, mounted sports, and the care of horses and ponies thereby developing responsibility, moral judgment, leadership and self-confidence."

Mary's Peak Pony Club serves members in Linn and Benton counties.  We typically have about 12 members and the ages generally run from 8-20 years old.  We have riders of all skill levels, from beginners to advanced.  In Pony Club members take a "rating" which is a skills test of riding and horse management knowledge.  All members start at the D1 level and move up at their own rate with the highest level being the "A" rating.

Our club meets three times a month.  We meet twice a month for mounted lessons and once a month for our unmounted horse management lesson.  We work hard but we play too!  Sometimes our lessons are mounted games, trail rides, or a camp out.  We have guest speakers come to teach us about things we need to know as horse people.  This year we had a great time making a replica of a horse's intestines out of balloons!  Our winter holiday party is a huge favorite.  We make gingerbread houses (or sometimes barns!) and decorate them (and eat the decorations too). 

Right now we're having a very busy fall.  We have a rating coming up in a week so the kids are all preparing for that.  In addition to our regular meetings we're having a practice session tomorrow with one of our older members.  That's one terrific thing about Pony Club, all kids learn how to teach and give back to the club so by the time they're a teen or young adult they're giving lessons and passing their knowledge on to the younger kids.  It's an amazing mentoring process and everyone benefits from it. We just had two members return from the regional Eventing Rally and despite the rain they had fun.  We'll be moving our lessons back to the covered arena for the winter.  We've enjoyed riding outside this summer and practicing our cross country jumping but with the rains coming we'll be dry under cover.  We're so thankful to Wildrose Farm in Philomath for hosting our club meetings!  It has been a great relief to have one place we can ride at all the time rather than moving around all the time. 

Stay tuned for more updates on what our club is doing.