New Member Guide to Redwood Hills Pony Club

Dear New Member and family,

Welcome to the Redwood Hills Pony Club. Our Pony Club is a nationally recognized non-profit teaching organization designed to help our youth learn to ride, care for, and train horses. We are hosted by the Skyline Ranch Equestrian Center.

As a club of the United States Pony Club (USPC), we are required to follow the highly-organized national rules and we are guided by the “Middle California” regional administration of USPC. Although we are part of national and regional groups, our club is a locally-run, completely volunteer group, dependent on our parents and families to run any and all activities, and guided by the interests and talents of our own members. Here are some of the helpful sources of information:

Make sure you look at these links on our website:

USPC New Member Booklet: A Guide to Membership (see USPC website Forms: New Member book) – this guide gives a detailed overview of all aspects of the national Pony Club organization.

You will receive from us at RHPC:

  • RHPC Policies and Standard of Conduct: You and your child will be required to read and sign an acknowledgment of these to complete your membership paperwork.
  • RHPC Volunteer list
  • RHPC Roster of Members
  • RHPC Procedures (Ratings, Rallies, Parent In Charge Duties): these are written guides that will be distributed as they are developed and updated)
    Please feel free to ask questions if you need help finding more information or resources!
MEETINGS

RHPC meetings are generally scheduled for the 1st and 3rd Saturdays from September to June, usually at about 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. At each meeting, there is typically a dismounted classroom lesson, a mounted lesson, barn chores that all kids participate in, and a nutritious snack that parents supply on a rotating basis. Older, more experienced, members are expected to help instruct younger members. Members ride in mounted lessons for approximately 1 hour in groups organized by horse availability or skill level. Members must prepare to ride approximately half an hour before their assigned riding time and be ready for a safety check.

Many RHPC members rent a horse for use at meetings ($20 per meeting (subject to increases) payable to Skyline Ranch). Horse assignments are made by Judi Martin, Skyline Ranch’s trainer and manager.

Members must sign in and sign out with the PIC (Parent In Charge). They are expected to be respectful, well-behaved and to take directions from senior PC members, parents, trainers, volunteers and Judi. Members are expected to be prompt and to follow the dress code for mounted meetings:

  • A suitable pair of shoes, sturdy, covering the ankle, do not come off easily, with a definite heel
  • RHPC shirt tucked neatly into pants
  • Sweatshirt, sweater or jacket if weather so dictates
  • Correctly fitted helmet which meets ASTM standard (SEI sticker inside) with chin strap fastened at all times the rider is mounted
  • Breeches, jodhpur pants or suitable tight fitting (comfortable) pants
  • Belt (if pants have belt loops)
  • Hair neatly combed off the face; shoulder length or longer hair should be fixed in a pony tail, braid or hair net
  • No jewelry other than watches

Pony club members are strongly encouraged to have at least one additional riding lesson per week OUTSIDE of RHPC mounted meetings. These lessons do not have to be taught by a Pony Club instructor, but should be taught using the Pony Club method.

PARENTS’ ROLE

RHPC cannot exist without parental involvement. Parents are required to volunteer in some capacity to help run the many aspects of Pony Club, including fund-raising, meetings, administration, activities and events. Volunteer jobs are available for all kinds of skills and interests (including non-horse types!). See Volunteer List for full descriptions of possible tasks.

Each family takes a turns (usually one or two meetings a year) to serve as Parent-in-Charge (PIC), in addition to other volunteer jobs. PIC is a parent helper who brings snacks and performs a set of duties to ensure the local meeting runs smoothly. Parents are responsible for checking the calendar and trading with another parent if they are unable to do it on their assigned date. See Parent-in-Charge duties.

Parent meetings are usually held once a quarter at Skyline Ranch during or after a regular meeting. Parent meetings are held to update members on activities, gather input from parents, vote on how to allocate funds and plan events and fund raisers. We try to spend no more than one hour. Each family must be represented at the Annual Meeting (usually the beginning of November) to elect the year’s officers and to approve the budget.

Parents become a “sponsor” of RHPC by paying the sponsorship fee. Under the USPC rules, only official “sponsors” of the local clubs have voting rights within their club. It is important that every child be represented by a sponsor who can vote on the leadership of the club and on how the club allocates funds.

RATINGS

The Pony Club rating gives members something to strive for and a way to measure their achievement, but it is only one portion of the program. Pony Clubbers are encouraged to work their way through the nine stages of the progressive Standards of Proficiency, which test knowledge and riding ability.

New members are unrated until passing a rating. The first level, “D” (D1, D2, D3) is an introduction to riding, safety and horse care. “C” level (C1, C2, C3) is development toward independent care of horses and tack with an understanding of reasons for the care. A C3 rating is a national rating and reflects complete competence in riding and horse care. D1 through C2 ratings are handled at the local level. Pony Clubbers who attain the B, H-A, and A rating levels (after C3) meet standards of competence that are recognized throughout the horse world.

Members must advance both in horse management knowledge and in riding ability. The instructor/trainer usually determines if a member is ready for a rating test. Then, the member must be checked off on horse management knowledge, usually by an older member or instructor. Before a rating, the member must prepare tack, horse, attire, and other equipment as required by the rating level. Ratings consist of mounted and oral tests. Members must be familiar with the rating material and comfortable riding at their rating level before taking a rating test.

At D ratings, parents are usually not invited to observe. D ratings usually take a couple of hours (depending on the number of members rating) and upper level ratings may take a day or more. Cost includes a rating fee (to the person giving the test), horse rental fee, sometimes equipment purchases.

There is much written study material for each level. A competed prep guide is required for ratings. Parents may help younger members write the information but the rider must know the information for the rating. D-3 riders and above must keep a record book of information about the care, shoeing, lessons, feed and training of their horse.

Pony Clubbers generally do one rating every year or two, but are encouraged to go at their own pace.

COSTS

Annual membership cost for Pony Clubbers (including national, regional, and local dues) are paid to the local club for the period January 1 through December 31. All dues and fees are nonrefundable. Exceptions may be made under special circumstances at the discretion of the officers of the club.

2014 New Member dues/fees are approximately $490 (including national dues, regional dues, local dues, new member materials* and sponsorship fee), with annual increases expected.

*New member materials include Redwood Hills Pony Club polo shirt, binder, US Pony Club (USPC) Pin and Manual.

Costs for each activity are usually the responsibility of members – these include horse rental fees, training fees, rallies, ratings, championships, and any other event requiring a horse, in addition to trailering fees.

RALLIES

Rallies are regional competitions where clubs send their teams to compete. The emphasis is on teamwork rather than individual competition. Even in these competitions, the emphasis is always on learning.

Members bring their horses in teams of 3 or 4 (if less, they make a scratch team with other clubs) and a stable manager. Our club usually participates in dressage, eventing, show jumping, and cross-country. Other activities that we don’t usually practice are: mounted games, vaulting, polo, polocrosse, foxhunting, tetrathlon. At rallies, teams are judged on riding skills, as well as horse management, care and knowledge. No outside observers are allowed in the barns, so usually older, or more experienced members, help out newer members. Usually cost and effort (trailering available horses, fees and preparation time) discourages younger, less experienced riders from participating, but we encourage all members to help prepare and to support each other by watching rallies. Costs include rally fees, food and lodging, stabling and trailering fees, equipment, and, if needed training fees.

Everything But the Horse Rally: This is a regional rally without horses. All the equipment is required and teams are inspected and judged just like at a regular horse rally, with stick horses instead. This is a great opportunity for newer or younger members to learn how a rally works without the stress and cost of bringing a horse.

Quiz: Again, a regional rally without horses. No equipment is required. Teams compete both as a team and individually, by answering written and oral questions that include practical hands-on knowledge as well as book knowledge about horse care, Pony Club, riding disciplines and more! This is also a great opportunity for members of all ages to experience a rally and to study and learn subject matter that is useful for rallies, ratings and everyday horse care.

OTHER EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES

Eventful Acres: This is a horse park in Oregon, House, CA, about 3 hours drive, where we go together as a club to train cross-country informally with Judi Martin and others. It is a rare opportunity for the kids to practice jumping out in the open. The park is very safety-oriented and beautiful – like a golf-course for horses. Usually we leave Friday a.m., settle in, ride in the afternoon, ride twice on Sat. and once Sun. a.m. and drive home. Parent chaperones are welcome – we camp on green grass, but RV’s are available to rent. Last year we had food catered and everyone had fun. Costs include camping fee, food, training fee, trailering.

Day at the Races: This is a fundraiser held at Golden Gate Fields horse racing course in Berkeley. A dedicated former RHPC family, works at the course and have given us the fantastic privilege of watching the race horses exercise, standing next to the track, hearing first hand from jockeys, exercise riders, administrators, vets, and trainers about the world of horse racing, and touring the back barns and the equine hospital. Cost includes a great buffet lunch during the races, at reserved tables in the elegant Turf Club overlooking the race course.

Nationals: These are the National Championships for Pony Club that take place in Lexington, KY. Members qualify for them by participating in the regional rallies in Eventing, Dressage, Show Jumping, Quiz, Games, Polocrosse and Tetrathlon. The National Championships only take place once every 3 years when a week-long USPC Festival also occurs. The festival includes clinics, workshops and other activities for USPC families (the next one is in July 2014).

Westerns: These are the national championships when they are not in Lexington, KY with the Festival. There is usually a corresponding Eastern Championships.

Regional: RHPC is part of the Middle California Region — geographically, from Martinez to Fresno to Oakdale to Santa Cruz. MidCal Region has about 20 clubs; each one has its own character and methods of operating, depending on the facilities and the members. Any club concerns are brought up with Regional, usually through the Regional Supervisor (RS).

USPC MISSION

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.

SAFETY

USPC is committed to safety. It is a membership requirement that Pony Clubbers wear a riding helmet meeting the ASTM/SEI standard when attending mounted meetings. Parents should be prepared to purchase this item and the minimum basic riding equipment, such as jodhpurs, boots, etc.

GUIDING BELIEFS
  • USPC is an educational organization that progressively develops the well-rounded horseperson.
  • The well-rounded horseperson is capable of riding safely and tactfully on the flat, over fences, and in the open.
  • Knowledgeable care of horses and ponies (Horse Management) is basic to the well-rounded horseperson.
  • USPC is committed to the well being of the horse.
  • Fair and friendly competitions develop teamwork and sportsmanship.
  • Fun and friendship are part of Pony Club.
  • USPC requires parental and volunteer involvement and support.
  • The USPC is committed to safety.
  • The local club is the core of USPC.