By Kaila McCormack
After living and riding in the Midwest for 22 years, teaching riding lessons at the base of a mountain was not something I experienced every day. Nevertheless, that’s where I found myself in the Summer of 2019. A Pony Club member from my home club, Sharlee Lowe, had been teaching at a Pony Club summer camp in Washington for the past few years—originally through the Visiting Instructor Program—and the club had grown so much in size that it needed another instructor. After a recommendation from Sharlee and some emails with the organizer, I was on a plane to Seattle with my helmet and paddock boots in tow.
When we landed in Washington, a friend of the organizer picked us up from the airport and graciously spent the day showing us around Seattle. After a day of sightseeing, we drove three hours to our host family’s house. As the organizer flew us in a few days early so we could explore the area, we spent the next two days hiking, walking around Port Angeles, and taking a ferry to Victoria, British Columbia.
Before the camp, Sharlee and I conducted a certification for a few members. My experience as an examiner prior to this did not extend outside Michigan. It was exciting to see the differences in answers regarding where club members ride, what activities they do outside of Pony Club, stable management, etc. It was also fun to meet a group of Pony Club members outside of my region!
The summer camp was three days long, but we spent the evening before camp getting to know the club members and their horses and putting them into appropriate groups. The club members were so friendly and ready to learn! During the camp, we taught flat, grid, and show jumping lessons, and even threw together a cross-country course using materials from around the grounds. Every member, regardless of level or experience, came into each lesson with a positive attitude and ready to have fun!
We had some long days in the sun, but the improvements that the members made, the new skills I learned as an instructor, and the fun we had making up dressage tests and show jumping patterns, made me so grateful that Sharlee had recommended me for the job. This experience allowed me to gain more confidence as an instructor and examiner and gave me new ideas to bring to any future lessons.
The National Youth Board (NYB) serves as a liaison between Pony Club’s youth members and the Board of Governors by communicating the needs, ideas, and concerns of USPC youth. NYB members also work with the national office on projects related to marketing, leadership development, and service for the benefit of the organization and all Pony Club members. Delegates of the NYB are between 18 – 23 years of age, highly motivated and dedicated, and have strong leadership and communication skills. To learn more, log in and visit the National Youth Board page.