Spring has sprung, and the kids from the Shuswap Pony Club have dusted off their saddles and are back riding in the ring at Topline Stables.
Over the weekend, the club’s 21 members from six to 18 years old attended the annual riding and stable management clinic.
The clinic served as a way to get back into the routine of the season, working on riding lessons and putting their stable management skills into practice, after learning in the classroom.
“We don’t just focus on riding in the club. It’s more about teaching the kids safe riding practices coupled with showing them the amount of responsibility that goes into owning a pony,” said Julie Bose, district commissioner of the Shuswap Pony Club.
On Saturday, a local veterinarian spent the day with the group training them how to measure their ponies’ vital signs, including temperature, pulse and respirations, in order to keep them healthy and in tip-top shape. Bose said even the youngest members have the confidence in checking their ponies’ vital signs and know when it is necessary to contact a veterinarian, something Bose admits she is conflicted about still.
On Sunday, dressage coach Brittany Moore and jumping coach Tonya Nyland put the club members through rigorous riding training to get back into form.
“It’s amazing to see – some of these girls are at the age where they don’t want to listen to anyone, even their parents, but they will listen to their riding coaches,” said Bose with a laugh, as one of the coaches was shouting out instructions to the riders.
All the riders are trained in the three disciplines of dressage, show jumping and cross country, allowing them to become more well-rounded riders. Club members are taught based on the rules and regulations of the United States pony Club Handbook, or the “blue bible” as Bose refers to it. In it, it documents everything from techniques to stable management and regulation dress, including the rider’s armband with medical information.
“There is a rule for everything, like the armbands the riders have to wear, but it all goes back to safety,” said Bose. The highlight of the season for many of the riders is the BC Interior Rally competition at Topline from Aug. 26 to 28.
The three-day competition is a showcase of everything the members learned through out the year from riding in each discipline to stable management.
Bose herself attended pony clubs as a youth and both her daughters did as well. She is adamant the club’s primary purpose is to teach responsibility, sportsmanship and good citizenship.