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Fancy some dog dressage? How the Pony Club is keeping young riders united through #PonyClubCarryOn

School may be out for children across the UK owing to the coronavirus pandemic but the Pony Club is keeping the community of young jockeys united thanks to the #PonyClubCarryOn initiative.

Following the advice from the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) to limit riding activity at home during the current lockdown, branches across the UK have pulled together to create fun ideas for all to get involved with.

“After the guidelines came out from the BEF, we at the Pony Club decided we wouldn’t promote any riding during the lockdown, so we had to come up with alternative ideas and the hashtag was born,” says Marcus Capel, the Pony Club’s chief executive.

“We have created different arms including competitions, online training and achievement badges, such as horse management, and all the content can be shared on Google Drive.”

Over Easter, the most popular competitions included their “2 Legs Not 4” contest, which saw entrants create a short video sharing a fun and creative move, dressed in their favourite equestrian gear.

“We had entries from across the globe,” adds Marcus. “The winning prize includes an online interview with top eventer Piggy March (neé French). We also had an Easter bonnet-making competition and even dog dressage! The Pony Club has 19 fantastic area reps around the country who have been helping out.”

Targeting members of all ages, there has also been a writing competition running and the Pony Club’s annual art contest has gone virtual too. While older members have been guiding youngsters through their Pony Club tests via a Google classroom.

“We’re all in this together and the hashtag has been a great way of engaging with our members during these tough times. We’ve gained in members since the lockdown – it just shows that people are coming together,” says Marcus.

Pony Club mother Natasha Geary credited the North Down branch of the Pony Club in Ireland for keeping her eight-year-old son, Ted, occupied during these testing times.

“With no school at the moment, #PonyClubCarryOn has been great at keeping the children busy. Our branch has been so proactive at getting all the kids together and running fun competitions such as “Carry On Grooming (video, above),” says Natasha. “There has been online tuition as well for Ted, where he has been completing a variety of badges like saddlery and other aspects of the Pony Club. There is a pet badge, whereby the children keep a diary about another pet, and instead of drawing rainbows for the windows we have been drawing rosettes (pictured, below).

“Ted cannot see his friends at the moment but it has been wonderful to see his lovely partnership with Skewbald pony Susie flourish. Ted is a typical boy and previously the riding was the fun bit, but now Susie has been washed, trimmed and groomed more than ever before!”

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Natasha adds: “We are lucky to have my horse and Ted’s pony stabled at home with us, so we are just pottering about with them. Having always been constantly on the go and doing the stables in a rush, it has been nice just to actually slow down and spend time with the horses.”

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