Summer is here and around the world riding clubs are preparing their summer activity programs. If you run a local riding club, whether or not it's affiliated with the official United States Pony Club or the Pony Club UK, there are a lot of activities you can organize for your group.
Depending on the size of your club, and the number of willing parents and volunteers available, you should be able to arrange a full range of mounted and un-mounted activities.
Any riding club needs funds to exist. The money raised can be used to buy equipment, such as jumps, to rent a place to hold meetings if necessary or to hire an instructor or clinician for mounted rallies.
An easy and enjoyable way to raise funds for your club is to hold a sponsored ride.
This can be held over a pre-arranged course, with volunteer monitors along the route to check everyone through. Each rider is sponsored by friends and family for a either a set amount for completing the course, or for a certain amount per mile. If your riders like to jump, it can include jumps, but it doesn't have to if your group contains a high percentage of non-jumpers.
Riders can be presented with a simple rosette or ribbon upon completion of the course.
The mainstay of any riding club's summer activity program, of course, will be mounted activites. These can take the form of mounted instructional rallies, or clinics covering a variety of topics -- the principles of dressage, the basics of showmanship, western riding etc.
Mounted games are also popular -- playdays can be held with pole bending, barrel racing and other mounted games. These can be training sessions with the emphasis on technique, or informal competitions and practice sessions.
At the end of the summer, your riding club can hold an End of Season Show. This can be as formal or as informal as you like, open to members-only, or to non-members as well. Entry fees can go towards hiring suitable judges for the classes you plan to hold and to help defray the cost of ribbons and other prizes.
Depending on the ages and abilities of your members, your show can include showing classes which emphasize presentation and showmanship, to competitive dressage, jumping, equitation and western classes.
A good way to have a fun day on horseback is to hold a Treasure Hunt or Scavenger Hunt. Riders are arranged into teams and each team is given a map of the route, a list of horse-related questions to answer and/or a list of items to collect en route. Teams are set off at intervals and make their way along the course to the finish line. The winning team is determined using the lapsed times together with the question and answer sheets and/or the number of required collected items.
Some riding clubs have a mixture of horse owning and non-horse owning members. A good way to include all members in the activities of the club is to hold a Quiz Night.
Club members are divided into teams and are quizzed on general horse knowledge by a Master of Ceremonies. Depending on the size of your club, winning teams in each round go forward to quarter finals, semi finals and, of course, the Grand Finals.
If it's appropriate for your group, you can choose a good equestrian-themed book for them to study before the Quiz Night and the questions can be taken from the book.
Instructional lectures and demonstrations are another un-mounted activity that can be enjoyed by all members of the club. Such things as bandaging, nutrition, grooming for a show etc. are all topics that can be covered.
You might want to arrange a field trip to the local farrier to see a demonstration of hot-shoeing, or to a saddler to see how saddles are made. If you live in an area that has a local Fox Hunt, the Master might be willing to give your club a tour of the kennels and give a short talk on the etiquette of fox-hunting. The possibilities are endless and if your members are anything like I was as a teenager, they will drink up the information!
I hope I have given you some ideas to help your riding club have a great summer. If your riding club has some special activities that aren't mentioned here, let's hear about them on the EquiSearch Forum.