By Olivia Crespo
Pony Club teaches us many things; things like, how to tighten a girth, wrap a standing bandage, or sit in a basic, balanced position. Pony Club shapes us to become better riders, better friends, and better sportsmen and horsemen. Pony Club gives us the foundation to become amazing instructors, teachers, and trainers. And Pony Club most of all sets us up for immense success as riders.
One of the ways I can show that Pony Club has shaped me to be the rider I am today, is through the use of switch rides and catch rides in my Upper Level Ratings. For both my C-3 and B Eventing Certifications, I was not only challenged and tested by the Pony Club Standards, but also by my mount to be the best rider I could be for their sake that day. Between the two tests, I rode one catch ride for my C-3, and three separate rides for my B. All four times, I rode a completely different horse. And all four rides, I had to be an even better rider than I was the last time I hit the saddle.
Riding the different horses in a setting such as a National Testing has prepared me for the stresses and pressure brought on by riding other people’s horses in the future. Through the aid and training I have received in the USPC, I am confident I have the skills to not only ride with grace and poise, but also with determination, courage, and skill. My Upper Level Ratings are not merely a letter or piece of paper showing that I’ve earned the title – but they stand as a symbol for me as a trainer and rider.
I can’t speak of this more strongly – it is SO important to ride as many different types of horses as you can when you’re able to! You never know when the situation will arise where a catch ride is your only option. Pony Clubs and Riding Centers offer just that – different people and horses to interact with and learn through everyday! My home Pony Club and eldest instructor were the beginning of this trend for me that set me on the path to greatness. Now, at 22, I’m working toward my A Eventing Certification on my 7 year old Thoroughbred whom I’ve trained myself – thanks to Pony Club and its catch rides!