THE Pony Club is celebrating a record number of A test passes this year.

Nine members passed the club’s toughest test — 33% of the 27 candidates.

Chief examiner William Blane said: “The pass rate was better and the overall standard, even among those who didn’t quite make it, was better than ever before.”

Passing in 2008 were Charlie Knapp, 18 (Woodland Hunt); Robyn Waterson, 20, and Alice Greenwood,18 (Cattistock Hunt); Eleanor Barrett, 20 (Clifton on Teme Hunt); Joanna Honey, 19 (Garth Hunt); Ben McClumpha, 21 (Atherstone Hunt); Ann Hartley, 23 (Pendle Forest and Craven Hunt), and Emily Wotton, 21 (Tiverton Hunt).

Sarah Parkes, 20, of the Worcestershire Hunt passed with honours.

The A test is the highest Pony Club award and sits on a par with the British Horse Society’s stage IV riding and horse-care exam. Members can only take it once they have passed all other Pony Club tests, from D upwards.

Candidates have to ride several unknown horses at various stages of training on the flat, over show jumping and cross-country fences, as well as demonstrating their ability to back and train the young horse.

Last year, only four candidates out of 24 passed (16%).

The Pony Club is to review the A test over the winter.

For more on this, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (16 October 2008)