Today we spoke to Gail Jackson, District Commissioner of Wilderness Trace Pony Club. Her daughter Monica is a member of WTPC. Gail is another parent who not only works a full time job, but also runs a boarding facility, competes in Eventing, and helps keep WTPC up and running.
What kind of horse related background do you have?
I come from a non-horsey family that is pet friendly. One of my older sisters had a job caring for some neighbors ponies on the edge of suburbia in the Chicago suburbs. I would go with her and get dumped off a pony mare named Lola quite regularly. As a gift in the third grade I received an 8 week lesson package to ride in the park district; I was hooked. I then progressed to taking out trail rides through the forest preserve in exchange for riding lessons. Some of the boarders at the farm would let me ride their horses for lessons and additional times during the week. Finally, my instructor let me ride and compete her horse in the local hunter circuit. I did not own a horse until I was in college, to get my horse fix I would braid horses and take some green horses fox hunting. The horse I did own was a resale project who I sold quickly. Now I own a horse named Perfect Punch whom I compete in Eventing when time allows.
What made you want your child to join PC?
I wanted my children to have the opportunity to learn to ride the proper way with a methodical sequential process and a focus on safety, I thought Pony Club was a good route. In addition several friends’ children were members of Wilderness Trace Pony Club and they made joining and being a part of the family very easy.
What is the best thing that your child has learned from their time as a PC member?
I think the most important thing that Monica has learned from Pony Club and horses is that hard work and perseverance will pay off eventually. From the first safety check to preparing for the H-B exam children are taught that there are things that are right and wrong like safety. They are also taught those things that are gray like changing your riding plan when your horse feels stiff or the footing is dreadful. This is a very hard concept and life lesson, but quite important. Horses can teach us lots of life lessons.
What is your favorite PC memory?
When Monica was a D-1 she attended camp taught by Corrine DeGorde. Monica was riding Cindy Lacy’s lovely draft cross pony, Sherman Tank. She had not cantered because Sherman was a draft cross and Monica could hardly make him trot with the help of a dressage whip. Corrine put the pony on a lunge line and put spurs on Monica. She decided that they could, and would canter. I think that Corrine worked much harder than the pony to get him cantering and keep him going. Monica was thrilled and still talks about getting hit with the whip the first time she cantered at D-camp.