Two new achievement badges to promote welfare and volunteering will be introduced by the Pony Club this month.

There are now 33 Pony Club badges on offer to members from the youngest to the lorinery badge aimed at B-test level. They are awarded for a wide range of skills.

The new badges are the result of a collaboration between the Pony Club, the Blue Cross and the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).

Blue Cross equine education officer Kerry Doyle told H&H: “Education is a massive part of our organisation because neglect comes from ignorance.”

The Blue Cross welfare achievement badge will be awarded to members who pass 10 welfare-related achievement tests, including the treatment of minor injuries and recognising when a horse needs a farrier. Each test can be completed at a Pony Club camp or rally.

The RDA volunteering achievement badge will be available to members aged 12 years old and over who, during a six-month period, volunteer and train on four separate occasions with an RDA group.

Volunteering activities will include leading ponies, helping prepare for lessons and events and caring for the animals.

RDA chief executive Ed Bracher told H&H the charity had long been keen to establish a formal link with the Pony Club: “We hope the badge will open the eyes of the equestrian community to volunteering, as well as helping young people work with their disabled peers to see what these riders are capable of.”

Pony Club training secretary Jenny Yates said: “Volunteers are the backbone of the Pony Club, so to have the RDA badge to encourage and train young people to volunteer, and hopefully retain them is beneficial.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (13 November, ’08)