By Melissa Dabadie, Chief Horse Management Judge (CHMJ)
Chief Horse Management Judge (CHMJ) Melissa Dabadie offers five tips so you can avoid common mistakes when going to a U.S. Pony Clubs rally.
1. Make sure your helmet fits. Your helmet fit can change from one rally to the next. The brim should rest 1” above your brow and should have even pressure all the way around. When the brim is lifted gently, the eyebrows should also lift. If your helmet has buttons, they should rest just below your ear. The chin strap should be snug, but not tight. It can be a chore to borrow a properly fitting helmet when you should be headed to the warm-up arena, so check the fit and harness today!
For more resources on helmet fit, see the Safety Handbook, available on Shop Pony Club, or the Horse Management Handbook and Competition Rules, especially Chapter 19: Helmet Requirements, Articles 148-156. The Horse Management Handbook and Competition Rules is available for purchase on Shop Pony Club or online after you’ve signed in to your member account on www.ponyclub.org and clicked on Rulebooks and looked under the “Horse Management” subheading.
2. Plan ahead. Communicate with your teammates, and go through all of your equipment well in advance of the rally. Check for the safety of stitching, cracked leather, expiration dates on medications, and that everything you need is in your rally kits. The “Required Equipment and Scoresheet Amplification” section explaining the items in the required equipment check is the last part of the Horse Management Handbook and Competition Rules, and there is a packing list at the very end.
3. Bring baling twine and double ended snaps. Neither is required, but can come in handy for hanging buckets and equipment, securing stall doors, etc.
4. Be early. Plan to arrive at least five minutes early to your turnout, warm-up, and your ride. This will save you from getting points for being late, and it will also give you a few minutes to pick feet, wipe your boots, and stand quietly with your horse and relax.
5. Read your rulebooks. This is the easiest way to know (besides rally experience, of course!) exactly what is expected of you at a rally. The Horse Management Handbook and Competition Rules and discipline rulebooks are located on the USPC website under the Rulebooks tab and on ShopPonyClub.org.