The Pony Club movement is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year with a special birthday event at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park, home to its patron, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.
Internationally, the Pony Club has organised a ‘Ride Around the World’ in 27 countries for its 90th birthday starting on Saturday, August 3 in Australia, the home of the eventing festival’s title sponsor, thoroughbred auction house Magic Millions.
The Pony Club was formed in 1929 and is the fourth biggest youth organisation in Britain with nearly 40,000 members and the biggest equestrian youth organisation in the world. It is dedicated to teaching young people to ride, care for horses and to develop into well-rounded members of society. The Pony Club has also helped produce the overwhelming majority of leading international riders, both past and present: 11 out of 12 riders for the UK Olympic team in Rio were Pony Club graduates.
Pony Clubs around Britain are organising their own celebrations, with the pinnacle taking place at Gatcombe at 3pm on Saturday, August 3 with a mounted parade in the main arena. The children will be representing 42 Pony Clubs, from eight different areas from as far afield as Devon, Wales and Warwickshire, as well as the local Pony Clubs of Gloucestershire. The parade will take place to the sound of a specially composed piece of music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, himself a keen supporter of The Pony Club with his wife, Lady Lloyd Webber, its current President. A preview of the music is below, and features members of Beaumont Farm Pony Club Centre.
The Pony Club has a long history with The Festival with local members ‘slip collecting’ on the cross-country course over the weekend (collecting the score tickets from the fence judges and taking them to the central scoring team); providing entertainment in the main arena with mounted games and Pony Club showjumping; several Pony Club members will also take part in the Dodson & Horrell Arena Eventing which takes place on Sunday; and, many of the top riders competing in the Magic Millions British Open will have also been Pony Club members themselves.
Event Director Peter Phillips, son of Princess Anne, said he jumped at the chance for The Festival to host the Pony Club celebration. “Having been in The Pony Club myself, along with Zara, we know just how important it can be in the lives of young pony-mad children.
“As well as offering education it is also a great organisation for friendship and social interaction, especially in today’s tech-heavy world. I am looking forward to seeing what The Pony Club has planned for the main arena and being part of the bigger global celebration,” Phillips said.
The Ride Around The World is being promoted with the hashtag #PonyClubWorldRide. It is a chance for Pony Club Members, past and present, to unite with members all over the globe to share their connection to The Pony Club and what it means.
The Andrew Lloyd Webber music can be downloaded for use with related activities or videos created and shared on social media. » Paganini Variations Mix