NZ Pony Club stalwart Elaine Knox-Thompson dies at 94

Elaine Knox-Thompson co-wrote the New Zealand Pony Club Manual series with Elaine Dickens.
Elaine Knox-Thompson co-wrote the New Zealand Pony Club Manual series with Suzanne Dickens.

The New Zealand Pony Club Association has announced that life member and honorary national coach Elaine Knox-Thompson has died at the age of 94.

Knox-Thompson, who died peacefully on Sunday morning at her unit at Summerset Village in Taupo, made a huge contribution to Pony Club in New Zealand over many years.

The NZPCA said Elaine Knox-Thompson – born Josephine Marguerite Knox-Thompson – joined the British Pony Club at the age of ten when she got her first pony, eventually gaining her A certificate and becoming a Visiting Coach. Making her career with horses after attending St Georges school at Ascot, she trained with Lt-Col J. E. Hance, Wilf White and Henri Cuyer, and rode at the Badminton Horse Trials five times, and completed twice on her home-bred mare Salome, in 1950 and 1953.

She also achieved both her British Horse Society Instructor (BHSI) and Institute of the Horse Instructor’s Certificate (IIH) qualifications. She set up a riding school in the Cotswolds before going to New Zealand in 1956 with Suzanne Dickens “Dicky”. They travelled the country, conducting courses for children and coaches, as well as Horse Society (now ESNZ) clinics for event riders and dressage judges. In 1962 they were invited by the NZPCA to become National Coaches and A Certificate Examiners.

They established the NZ Equestrian Centre in Rotorua in 1963, and ran the first Top Ride, the first National Dressage Tournament and the first H exam there. In 1979 they closed the Centre and moved to Taupo where they continued their diversification into writing and publishing. The NZ Pony Club manuals along with several other horse books including A Guide to Riding and Horse CareThe Young Horse and Horses and Ponies, and two television series followed. They also wrote and compiled the NZPC Coach Training Programme, with assistance from Jennifer Howard and Kay Hogan, and developed the assessment and workshop procedures.

Knox-Thompson was awarded the 1990 Commemorative Medal for services to New Zealand in that year, and in 1992 both she and Dickens received the Queens Service Medal for services to Pony Club. Knox-Thompson retired as a National Coach in 1996, and Dickens in 2001. They were made Honorary National Coaches and in 2012 they were both made Life Members of NZPCA.

Outside the equestrian arena, Knox-Thompson enjoy training dogs, especially working trials, gardening and reading.

A funeral service is to be held on Thursday, July 10, at 2pm in Taupo at the Founders Chapel on Rickett Street.

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