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A Horse,
of Course

with Don Blazer

A Horse of Course

Some things are named well, some things aren't.

The Lone Ranger was named well. Man O' War is pretty good.

Olympic Champion. That's great!

Pony Club. Bad name, bad name.

When you see or read the name United States Pony Clubs, Inc. (USPC) all the images which pop to mind are wrong.

Pony Club isn't what it's name makes you think it is.

In fact, it's almost everything you think it isn't.

To get the right image of Pony Club, you have to know something about Pony Club.

And one of the things you need to know is that Pony Club thinks you've got to know something about horses before you actually get the right image of a horse. And that's the first great thing about Pony Club. The second terrific thing is Pony Club believes knowledge is the essence of a super horse and rider partnership.

With those two very perceptive ideas in mind, The United States Pony Clubs, Inc. was formed Feb. 24, 1954 in Massachusetts.

The purpose: "To develop and encourage among children throughout the United States a knowledge of horsemanship including the care of horses, to encourage fair and friendly competition, to develop understanding of, and sympathy for the horse by its rider, and by these and other means, to help to develop in young riders strength of character, alert minds and sound bodies."

Now that you know something about Pony Club, you know some of what it isn't. So, what is it?

Pony Club is a worldwide nonprofit organization that teaches horsemanship and care of horses to young people (some start at age 5) through the age of 21. Most Pony Club members do not ride ponies, while some little ones do.

Pony Club members, through the formal instructional program, learn more about horses and their care than do the members of any other American horsemanship organization. Members progress through a standard rating system which requires them to learn more and more about horses and their care and to become accomplished riders. An "A" rating is the ninth and highest rating. It is reached by only a few members, but when it is, you can be sure you are dealing with a highly competent young horseman.

Pony Club riding activities include Combined Training (dressage, cross-country and stadium jumping), Mounted Games, Show Jumping, Dressage as a single activity, Vaulting, Polo, Polocrosse, Fox hunting and Tetrathlon (riding, running, swimming and shooting).

The USPC emphasizes instruction over competition.

Now isn't it interesting that most of the great coaches (in virtually any sport you can think of) also emphasize knowledge and understanding before "show time."

Another way of looking at the success of instruction over competition is to know that more than 30 former Pony Club members have been members of the US Olympic teams as equestrians.

Want me to drop some names. How about Bruce Davidson, two-time gold medal winner. Or there is Michael J. Plumb, two-time gold medal winner, with three silver medals. Of course, there's my favorite, William Steinkraus, bronze, silver and gold medal winner.

The girls are also well represented in Pony Club. Want some big names. How about Melanie Smith-Taylor, show jumping gold medal winner, or Karen Stives, gold and silver medal winner in eventing.

So what's in a name?

Maybe the best times of your life, maybe a pal you'll never forget, maybe the pride of accomplishment, the joy of understanding, the gift of knowledge being given back, a career, a gold medal, the building blocks of the person you or your children will become.

Pony Club. It's more than just a name.

It's something you and your children ought to join.

Don Blazer
Visit Don Blazer's Web Site

And Read
"A Horse, Of Course"
Monthly Column
by Don Blazer

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