Angry parents have hit out at the Pony Club after the Kirkintilloch and Campsie branch refused to renew the membership of a Scottish teenager.
Rebecca Hind, 13, represented the branch at a team show jumping competition on 19 January, but on 2 February her mother, Val, received a letter from district commissioner Isobel Forrest refusing Rebecca’s renewal and returning her fee.
When she queried the matter, Mrs Hind received an email from Pony Club area representative Meg Jessiman citing a list of alleged disciplinary complaints against Rebecca, going back to 2006.
But Mrs Hind says: “No disciplinary action or warnings were ever put to Rebecca. We had no idea there was a problem especially as she was representing the branch shortly before this letter arrived.”
Maggie Finlay, whose daughters are also members of the Kirkintilloch and Campsie branch, said: “I was present at two of the incidents that were cited and know them to be totally untrue.”
She said she and other mothers had written to the Pony Club headquarters at Stoneleigh giving their accounts of the incidents.
The allegations range from being drunk at Pony Club camp to refusing to wear bowling shoes on a trip to the alley. Both of these are hotly refuted by Rebecca’s mother.
An appeal against the charges was heard at Stoneleigh on 23 April and Mrs Hind received a letter confirming Rebecca’s membership of the Kirkintilloch and Campsie was cancelled but she was free to join another branch.
Mrs Hind was also told that her own behaviour had been taken into consideration in the decision not to accept Rebecca back into the club.
“I can only think that this stems from a previous dispute, not related to the allegations concerning Rebecca,” she commented.
Pony Club chief executive Judy Edwards said: “The refusal to renew a person’s membership of a branch is a matter we approach with the utmost seriousness.
“In the case of Rebecca Hind, established procedures were followed and the decision was taken by the Pony Club’s review and appeals committee after representations by Mrs Hind.
“The Pony Club aims for its members to undertake equestrian activities with a sense of fun and in an environment of discipline and respect for others.
“If it is felt at local level that members, or just as importantly their parents, fall short of those principles to the detriment of others, the Pony Club is obliged to take appropriate steps. We are pleased to confirm Rebecca has now been accommodated in another branch.”
But Mrs Hind says Rebecca is still suffering from the effects of the decision, as Pony Club rules state that a member who has changed branches cannot compete at area level for 14 months.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (12 June, ’08)