Young riders get the skills to thrive

Every second Sunday of the month the polocrosse fields off Anamabah Road come alive with dozens of young riders and their horses.

It’s a tradition the Maitland Pony Club proudly continues and hopes to take well into the future.

Club president Michael Hanson said from Olympic showjumping champions to international polo players, pony clubs such as Maitland provided youngsters with instruction, confidence and a safe environment to learn their skills to thrive in a variety of equestrian disciplines and sport.

“We cater for children and teenagers of all ages, all abilities across many disciplines such as sporting, jumping, dressage and showing,” Hanson said.

“Riders who are new to pony club are encouraged to "come-and-try" and experience what pony club can offer.

“Every second Sunday of the month we have a rally day.  It is all about training the kids in all facets of working with a horse, caring for their horse, eventing with their horse getting them ready for show riding, jumping and all the rest of it.

“We get guest instructors in and we have our own instructors and they put a course together for the kids. It’s normally about what is coming up or where we think the kids are lacking.

“Every now and then there are clinics put on by clubs. We have several clubs in zone 25 and they take turns in hosting clinic or inter-club days, and show rider days on Saturdays.”

Hanson said the pony club offered a staged development of skills for riders, who earn badges as they go through the rands.

“There is a set criteria of bringing the kids up from where they are being led by their parents,” he said.

“Once the instructor is satisfied you are comfortable you move to the next level which is a beginner.

“Beginners are off the lead but the parents are near by and they then move through to some of the more advanced stages of riding where the older kids are powering along and it is more about fine tuning.

“Anyone can get on and ride a horse but can they do it safely, can they do it in a way that the horse is going to respond to the rider and get the most out of it.

“That’s what pony club is all about get that safe, educational, enjoyable interaction with the horse.”