High standards and good sporting spirit at this year’s Pony Club Championships point to a bright future for British equestrian sport. More than 300 members from Britain and Ireland competed in polocrosse, show jumping, eventing, dressage and pony and horse care championships, demonstrating higher levels of skill than ever before. But Pony Club Chairman Mary Anderson is determined that next year more children without their own ponies will compete at the Championships.

For the first time in the Pony Club’s history, the championships for all disciplines (except tetrathlon) took place over six days at Sansaw Park, Shropshire. ‘It has been a superb week,’ said Mrs Anderson. “Combining the championships together has definitely been a success. The standard of horses, riding and stable management has been higher than ever this year.”

But Mrs Anderson was keen to point out that certain members were missing from the competition. “Next year I’m determined to have more centre members at the championships,” she said. “I haven’t worked out what the competition will be yet but there must be something – does anyone have any ideas?”

Centre members are those Pony Clubbers who do not own their own ponies but participate in Pony Club activities and tests at affiliated riding schools. There are currently 252 Centres operating in Britain. According to Mrs Anderson and a judge of the Horse and Pony Care Championship, many centre members outshone branch members in stable management tests. “On the whole centre members were better,” she confirmed: “They were much more conscientious.”

The atmosphere at the championships was surprisingly relaxed, considering competitors were faced with the nerve wracking task of representing their Pony Club branches. “Riding has taught me a lot,” said a member of the Puckeridge branch, “mainly about anger management.” Alexandra Hamilton-White, a member of the Avon Vale West intermediate eventing team said, “I really enjoyed the cross-country competition. The atmosphere was really nice for my first championships, but everyone felt the pressure was there!”

British Olympic medallists Pippa Funnell, (Eridge), pentathlete Kate Allenby (Spooners and West Dartmoor) and William Fox-Pitt (West Street South) all began their sporting careers in the Pony Club. This year’s Pony Club champions were presented with trophies originally won by ex Pony Club members Zara Phillips, Jeanette Brakewell, Leslie Law and William Fox-Pitt.

Pony Club Championship competitors and their supporters spent the evenings relaxing, with dinner in a big marquee followed by a lively disco. “It has been like one big Pony Club Camp – there has always been something going on,” said Mrs Anderson. “One evening we even had an impromptu opera performance!”

RESULTS

Open Dressage: VWH Hunt (Charlie Hutton, Olivia Kuropatwa, Pippa Hutton, Danielle Dunn)

Individual Dressage: VWH Hunt (Olivia Kuropatwa)

Dressage to Music: Quorn Hunt (Natalie Charlton)

Open Show Jumping: Garth Hunt (Tony Pearson, Carly Grimster, Rhian Denton, Kerry Grimster)

Individual Show Jumping: Puckeridge Hunt (Fergus Payne)

Intermediate Show Jumping: South Nottinghamshire (Natalie Bell, Amy Walters, Henry Kilminster, Aimee Clifford)

Open Eventing: VWH Hunt (Grace Erskine-Crum, Tom McEwen, Sally Gantlett, Sarah Hutchings)

Intermediate Eventing: Avon Vale Hunt (Jessica Waldron, David Doel, Alexandra Hamilton-White, Sophie Arundel)

Horse and Pony Care: Sandown Chase (senior), Chiddingfold Farmers (junior)

Mounted Games: Athestone Hunt (senior), Sir W W Wynn’s (junior)