NYB: Developing Professional Skills Through Pony Club

Written by: Grace Mitchinson

I joined Pony Club at the age of ten, with my head full of dreams about someday riding at the
upper levels of eventing and knowing everything imaginable about horse care. Nearly twelve
years later, Pony Club has helped me to progress in both my riding and horse management skills,
but has also offered me plenty of opportunities to advance in other aspects of my life. Most
significantly, Pony Club has handed me all the tools necessary to succeed in both my academic
and professional pursuits.

Preparing for certifications was my first chance to really explore which study methods worked
for my individual learning style. I was encouraged to make charts, talk with friends, and create
notecards in order to learn the material, and I can confidently say that I still use these methods
frequently as I navigate my undergraduate education at the University of Michigan. Creating an
effective studying process for myself while learning about content that I was passionate about
made my life significantly easier when it was time to study for exams in a traditional education

Another skill which I’ve developed through Pony Club is public speaking. I started teaching
unmounted lessons at local camps and clinics from a young age, and I learned how to present
information in front of groups in a professional and confident way. This frequent exposure has
helped me immensely in both high school and college, as it has allowed me to focus on the
content of the presentation instead of worrying about speaking in front of an audience. This
confidence has carried over to job interviews, where I can also demonstrate my strong evaluation
skills, thanks to many years of evaluating topics like conformation and my own riding
performance with national examiners. Additionally, I’ve had many professors commend my
ability to lead small group presentations and projects, which I attribute to many years of teamwork during rallies and rating preparation. Without Pony Club, I would’ve had to work hard
to develop both the presentation skills and confidence required for academic success at the
college level.

Beyond study methods and skills, and perhaps most importantly, Pony Club has taught me that
success does not come without failure. Horses go lame, we inevitably fall short of our goals, and
some days our best work simply does not meet standards. Luckily, we’re a gritty bunch, and this
organization has always encouraged me to evaluate the problem, create a solution, work hard
toward it, and try again. Being able to address my setbacks objectively and work through them
has allowed me to move forward quickly and not dwell on my mistakes, which I’ve found is
crucial for professional development.

Shockingly enough, I will not be running a 5* event anytime soon, and I think it’s safe to assume
that there will always be more to learn in the realm of horse management. However, I think ten
year old me would be thrilled to see just how much this organization has helped me develop as a
student and a young professional. Pony Club is truly where it all begins!

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.


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