Two new Pony Club achievement badges have been introduced for 2009, one to promote the safe use of equipment and the other a knowledge of butterflies including the ragwort eating cinnabar moth.

The British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) has developed the equipment safety badge with the Pony Club to help members understand when a piece of tack or other equipment is sub-standard or dangerous.

Key areas will be correct fitting of hats, body protectors, worn tack and correct stirrup size, some of which will be explained using games.

Liz Benwell of BETA said: “The idea is to help members to learn how to look for poor or ill-fitting equipment.

“We’re trying to increase the awareness of safety issues and how to choose and use body protectors. We thought a badge was a good way to do it.”

The second badge, entitled butterflies and moths, will highlight essential knowledge such as the lifecycle of the cinnabar moth, whose caterpillars are the best way to control ragwort.

The caterpillars, in high concentrations, can consume enough ragwort to prevent it from seeding, which is the key to controlling a plant that is a serious life threat for horses.

Ragwort seeds can live in the soil for up to 20 years, surviving at the edge of fields outside a herbicide spray zone.

Derek Smith of Ragwort-UK says: “Pulling and spraying must respect the law of trespass, and as a consequence plants ‘just over the fence’ are left to seed and compound the problem.

“But cinnabar moth caterpillars do not stop at fences or boundaries.”