Pony Club branches across the country will be helping to raise funds for the Animal Health Trust (AHT), after it was named The Pony Club’s 2010 charity of the year.

The AHT, based in Newmarket, is a veterinary charity dedicated to research into the health of horses, cats, cattle and dogs.

“I was so impressed with the work of the AHT when I visited last year that I felt their work was something our 50,000 strong membership should be aware of,” said Judy Edwards, Pony Club chief executive.

“The health and welfare of animals is uppermost in The Pony Club’s teaching.”

The AHT, which treats more than 3,000 animals each year, has launched the Pony Power campaign for Pony Club members, aiming to raise £100,000 for the charity throughout the year.

Each branch has been supplied with Pony Power fundraising packs, and urged to hold cake sales, dog shows, sponsored rides and other fun fundraisers throughout the year.

“It is a great opportunity to tell members about the work we do for all their horses and ponies,” said Peter Webbon, AHT chief executive, “and to teach them about diseases such as laminitis, strangles and grass sickness.

“Every activity, regardless of how much it raises, will take us closer to our target of £100,000, enabling us to save the lives of many more horses and ponies.”

The AHT will also run Pony Power raffles throughout the year, with prizes including a course of 12 portable cross-country fences, a jump trailer and show jumps for branches.

As an added incentive, Laura Bechtolsheimer, international dressage rider, will hold an exclusive dressage clinic at the branch that raises the most money.

And an equine research laboratory at the AHT will be named after the Pony Club if members hit the £100,000 target.

For more details about the Pony Power campaign, visit www.ponypower.org.uk.