The Pony Club denies that it has warned members not to wear its ties and badges when taking part in legal forms of hunting when the ban begins on 18 February.
It says that advice issued in some branch newsletters misinterprets information on illegal hunting, which was released by head office at the end of last year.
“At no time did we say members may not wear their Pony Club tie, badge or sweatshirt — what we did was to advise them that wearing their Pony Club insignias could be misconstrued by the public/media,” says a spokesman for Pony Club headquarters.
But some branch newsletters advise that to wear such clothing for post-ban legal hunting is forbidden and that Pony Club insurance will be void for such activities.
Julia McKeivor, whose children hunt with the Mendip Farmers’ and are members of the branch of the same name, received the branch’s half-term agenda, which advised that members who took part in hunting-related activities “must not wear their Pony Club tie or badge”.
“I was disheartened and appalled,” says Julia. “The hunt has encouraged and supported children since its founding year, and those who hunt regularly are the backbone of the Pony Club teams. We have more children in the field than adults, especially young boys, who aren’t so into dressage or rallies — hunting has really made my son learn to ride.”
The Mendip Farmers’ hunt branch agenda added: “Pony Club insurance will not cover participation in any hunting-related activity.”
But a spokesman for PC headquarters says that members’ insurance will be valid for legal forms of hunting.
“The Pony Club supports any member’s right to take part in any legal equestrian activity and the member would be insured. We can’t answer how the [Mendip Farmers’ hunt] branch got its information on insurance,” she says.
The spokesman adds that the confusion could have arisen after the December bulletin said, in relation to illegal activities: “We would ask that … if they wear what would previously have been correct dress, ie Pony Club badge, tie and/or sweatshirt, and they are publicised wearing them, they may draw the Pony Club into a media storm.”
When approached by the Horse & Hound, the Mendip Farmers’ District Commissioner Keith Armstrong refused to comment.