The Pony Club is set to launch endurance as one of its official disciplines in 2009 to coincide with the organisation’s 80th birthday.
Exact details are still under discussion, but endurance will be run with its own committee, established rules and distances and end-of-season national championships.
Cherry Michell, chairman of the Pony Club, told H&H: “Pony Club endurance is still in its infancy, but we’ve been planning it for a while.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for children to go out and ride in the countryside.”
Novice, intermediate and open rides are planned throughout the year, and will
be run in conjunction with endurance’s national governing body — Endurance GB (EGB).
“We are really looking forward to working with the Pony Club,” said John Yeoman, chairman of EGB.
Robert Blane, chief instructor of the Bedale and West of Yore branch, has been appointed as national endurance representative and is working closely with EGB to gather momentum for the discipline.
Mr Blane told H&H: “Endurance is such wonderful fun. It improves balance and teaches a feeling of rhythm. Most importantly, it makes the rider understand a lot more about horse management.”
He added: “ We’ve had a staggering response so far — I cannot believe how keen some people are.”
Rides are planned from 8km to 48km, so children aged eight and over of all standards can have a go.
By taking part in the rides throughout the year, members will be able to qualify for the Pony Club Endurance National Championships to be held annually towards the end of the summer.
Those not ready for novice level will have the chance to win Pony Club endurance merit awards.
Nikki Parsler and her husband Jim have been organising endurance at the Whaddon Chase branch in Milton Keynes for the past three years and are looking forward to endurance becoming more widely available in the Pony Club.
Mrs Parsler told H&H: “We want to raise awareness and get people excited about it. Any child with any pony and with any tack can get involved. And it gives children who weren’t necessarily the branch superstar a chance to shine.”
In anticipation of the 2009 launch, Pony Club members can take part in the Lion’s Tail ride in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire on 13 September and the College Ride in Bedford on 12 October.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (19 June, ’08)