The National Pony Society (NPS) is to be restructured, with a dramatic reduction in the number of council members, following an extensive review.

The review was commissioned by the council of the NPS to ensure the society could meet current needs and future challenges. It found that some of the NPS’s procedures and structures no longer met standards expected of a charity.

The NPS’s aim is to “promote the interests of pony breeding and to encourage the use and protection of ponies”.

Management consultant Pamela Woods did the review.

She told H&H: “After the report was written in April last year, we began putting some of the recommendations in place. NPS is moving forward very quickly and, as an external party, I am delighted.”

NPS council member and chairman of the judges committee Rachel Bown said: “We felt we were not giving a good service to our members and wanted to improve.

“The review was very positive. It will be good for everyone who has an association with ponies.”

Strengths of the NPS were identified as longevity, prestige, financial security and a friendly, diverse membership of 3,000.

But weaknesses included the NPS’s failure to make an effective representation to the government on equine-related issues and to fulfil members’ expectations.

Another concern was the conduct of a few key people, which was causing internal conflicts — on which the NPS declined to comment — and that the large number of council members was a drain on resources.

A reduction of council members from 25 to 15 by next year was approved at the NPS’s annual meeting.

New key members of staff were also introduced at the AGM in March, with former Highland Pony Society president Sheila Brooks becoming chairman and PR specialist Caroline Nokes as chief executive.

The government requires that, as a charity, the NPS shifts its emphasis more towards education and welfare of members.

Where previously less than one per cent of NPS funding was being spent on education and welfare, education of members about ponies and their welfare is now a priority.

The society, founded in 1893, will also start to modernise, starting with the development of a new website.

Ms Nokes concluded: “It is important to emphasise that we have acted upon this review. It certainly identified some weaknesses, but we have taken firm steps to address them.”

Chairman Sheila Brooks added: “The NPS is moving forward and it is very exciting.”

Key changes

  • Reduction in numbers of council members
  • Changes to committee structure
  • A new chief executive and chairman
  • More money spent on welfare and education
  • Better communication with members
  • A new website
  • Promotion of British riding ponies
  • Promotion of ponies to a wider audience
  • Greater administrative support to members
  • Co-operation with other studbooks and societies
  • A balance between mountain and moorland and British riding ponies