One of the best experiences many Pony Club members can have is participating in Championships – the walk in during Opening Ceremonies, the bright lights, the applause, the recitation of the Pledge. Most members who make it to Champs have never even seen the Pledge before, much less know it by heart. This is unfortunate, because this carefully crafted piece is poetry, clearly stating each and every part of the final goal for our members:
“As a member of the United States Pony Club, I stand for the best in sportsmanship as well as in horsemanship. I shall compete for the enjoyment of the game well played and take winning or losing in stride, remembering that without good manners and good temper, sport loses its cause for being. I shall endeavor to maintain the best tradition of the ancient and noble skill of horsemanship, always treating my horse with consideration due a partner.”
Stand for the best: Only one team gets to take home the blue ribbon. Honor yourself by always remembering that only YOU can ever beat your personal best. Each competition offers you the opportunity to set a goal and achieve it. Keep them simple. Keep them achievable and you will win in a big way.
Compete for the enjoyment of the game well played: Nothing compares to feeling the wind brush your cheeks as your horse lifts over a jump, the delight in snagging a soaring ball out of the air with your Polocrosse racket, or the steady connection from your horse’s dancing body up through your own during a Kur. Each competition has its own set of rules. We honor the rules so that competition is as close to fair as it can be. We also honor the officials, most of whom are volunteers, giving their time and energy so that you can enjoy the “game well played”.
Without good manners and good temper, sport loses its cause for being: Your team works hard to support one another. Honoring the entire team – each and every teammate, regardless of their level of success in a competition – is a worthy goal. Of course a competition is nothing without other teams in the playing field. A blue (or red, or yellow) ribbon means nothing unless you honor your competition by celebrating with them when they achieve a goal worthy of note.
I shall endeavor to maintain the best tradition of the ancient and noble skill of horsemanship, always treating my horse with consideration due a partner: The bonds between a horse and rider are unique. Other sports use a ball, sticks, hoops, or tracks. Our sport partners are living, breathing, unfathomably epic animals. Equine partners honor us by allowing us to climb up on their backs and carrying us like Kings and Queens. We honor our equine partners by riding to the best of our ability, caring for them, and listening and attending to their needs. Sometimes this means extra bedding in a stall to help with sore feet so that you can both continue in the competition, sometimes it means scratching to spare the horse pain. Both of these are winning ways of thinking about your partner.