View Full Version : USPC A's and B's tell us about yourselves

Oct. 8, 2009, 01:37 PM
I would love to know how many COTH Eventing forum members achieved their Pony Club A, HA, or B ratings and what they think of their experiences. My daughter will be elgible to go for her A rating in two years, and is already nervous as heck. She thought the B was pretty tough, and as an observer I would have to agree. She says she will go for the HA for sure, but may wait quite awhile to ride for her A if she does it at all.

So first off, who are the A's and B's? Then any suggestions for those hoping to rate up in the future.

Oct. 8, 2009, 01:44 PM
I am a graduate A pony clubber. I was in PC in Texas in the 80's and 90's. I did my HA and A in the same summer the last year I was eligible. It was quite a summer because I had to do the required preps too. And NONE of them were offered in Texas that year. So I went to Illinois for my HA prep, then VA for my A prep (rode borrowed horses). Then to Ogden, UT for my HA test and Louisville, KY for my A test.

It is a VERY challenging test - but if you do the work and have the ability to always answer the question "why" - it is attainable.

I still list my achievement on my resume. It is a big deal and certainly one of the biggest goals I achieved in my youth. (Now that I have two kids - they sort of rank as my biggest achievements!)

Good luck!

Oct. 8, 2009, 01:53 PM
Graduate B here. I loved my time in Pony Club, but like I ranted in another post, it has changed signifigantly. My coming 4 year old is already nagging me to join PC, but I'm not sure I want her to go that direction. I was fortunate to belong to very active clubs that enabled me to rally and rate, although my family didn't have much money. The clubs I've worked with in the past 3 years have been very different from what I grew up with. There are kids I've taught that had been rated a C3 before I taught them and back in the day they wouldn't have passed their C1! :no:
I only rode green or naughty horses growing up and finally had one nice horse, which I found boring. Now I do OTTB's and have 2 that I campaign, and 1 that is with a YR in NH. The 2 I have most people would run from because of breeding and their known neurotic issues, but they're great fun! The older brother is competing at Intermediate, preparing to move up to Advanced, the younger brother has just begun competing Novice--placing every time out.
As far as advancing in PC, I have a few friends that have acquired their HA's and A's over the years. At one A rating, a friend was told by the examiner in a more "nice" version that it was political why she wasn't passing. Another friend just went for her A after receiving her HA. Her horse didn't haul well to the rating and was stiff, so she didn't pass, although there could have been other horses available--namely my idiot gelding who she could have ridden with no problem-- the examiners didn't make that an option, which I thought odd.
My advice for all PC'ers as they come along is to ride LOTS of horses. Everything you can get your hands on. Find someone who is an UL rider that has gone through PC or a National Examiner that you can spend some time with. I used an A PC'er friend of mine when I went for my B. We paid her 2 separate times to come and go over EVERYTHING for me. From mounted work to bandaging, she ripped me up one side and down the other... then came back, I'd been working hard and was able to get feedback on what was lacking. I also asked her questions on things I was struggling with and got feedback on how she was able to overcome that. We had also been preparing for my B for 2 years--before I went for my C3. I also went to u/m preps outside my rating for HA's.
Also, bandage every day. Every type of bandage you can do, work on. Work with a vet, if you can. Ride with your farrier. Make yourself an expert in everything. If you can know why your horse goes a certain way biomechanically and are able to verbalize it, that helps, as well... i.e my gelding was physically unable to lengthen his stride due to conformation, but I knew how to get the most out of him and demonstrated and expressed that at my rating, which put me well beyond the standards. As another poster said, it's the "HOW" and "WHY" that's most important. You may be completely wrong, but if you have a reason for doing what you do and it is logical and safe, you may be able to change some minds in the process.
The biggest thing is to have fun and enjoy the learning process! It isn't the goal that's fun, but the experience of getting there! Good luck to your daughter!

Oct. 8, 2009, 02:06 PM
Grad A pony clubber here from a very competitve club and region. I graduated in 1995. I got my HA and A the same summer in 1992. At our A rating only 2 of the 8 passed. The other girl and I were from the same club and had both competed on various Young Rider teams. We were both competing regularly at prelim and intermediate.
I know pony club has changed since I took my A but I feel as long as you are going to the rating with a good attitude and that you are able to explain what problems you had and how you could go about fixing them it isn't a big deal!
Good Luck!

Long Spot
Oct. 8, 2009, 02:15 PM
Graduate H-A here.

My experiences with PC were amazing. I learned so very that I use every day, still. I stayed involved for many years as an examiner, taught at camps, and did some SM judging. I'm out of the loop now, but I miss it.

Oct. 8, 2009, 02:19 PM
I'm a graduate A! I failed both my B and HA the first times I took them, but I felt very prepared and capable at my A.

The knowledge sections of the B and the HA overall were difficult for me, but through practice and mentoring from older pony clubbers I was able to get through.

I think a major component to any upper-level rating (and it says so on the standard) is maturity. The more you can approach the rating as an opportunity to show what you know--as well as to learn from the examiners by taking constructive criticism and applying it--the better off you'll be.

Achieving the A is something I'm very proud of, and I encourage every PC'er to set their goals high and see what they can accomplish!

Oct. 8, 2009, 03:07 PM
At 16, I achieved my B. Only 3 of 10+ passed. I considered going on for my HA and A, but at that time it was either pony club and college, or eventing and college. My family set a limit on horse time while starting the college search, and rightfully so. Eventing won.

Without Pony Club, I would have never become involved with horses. My parents knew nothing about them, except their blue eyed girl fell in love with every pony and horse we passes. To this day, I still use the knowledge I gained form the organization. Citing your upper-level rating helps to distinguish you and your background. It also opens doors to wonderful contacts and opportunities no matter where you may be located. When I taught, I always employed the Pony Club practice of safety, horsemanship and respect to your horse/pony.

This all happened in 1996, when Pony Club was very different then it is today. Similar to an earlier poster's note - I do not agree with the direction Pony Club has recently gone, and the adjusted requirements for the upper levels.

Oct. 8, 2009, 03:08 PM
I'm a graduate B! I also failed my first time I took the B but I was sure ready the second time and passed with flying colors. Pony Club was amazing and I use what I learned every day.

Oct. 8, 2009, 03:10 PM
I am a USPC graduate "B" Pony Clubber. It took me two times, also, to pass. The first time, I passed the riding portion, but failed the knowledge. I worked very hard on the knowledge and practical for the next try.

Passing my "B" really prepared me for the BHSAI exam, which I passed in 1975 at the Fulmer School of Equitation in Ledston, UK.

Oct. 8, 2009, 03:22 PM
Current 'HA' here, testing for my A next year. I'm 21 and still in pony club... i think that says it all

Oct. 8, 2009, 03:28 PM
My trainer has her A rating and she has the most amazing eye for biomechanics of both the rider and the horse and I know PC helped her become that way.

Oct. 8, 2009, 03:41 PM
I would love to know how many COTH Eventing forum members achieved their Pony Club A, HA, or B ratings and what they think of their experiences. My daughter will be elgible to go for her A rating in two years, and is already nervous as heck. She thought the B was pretty tough, and as an observer I would have to agree. She says she will go for the HA for sure, but may wait quite awhile to ride for her A if she does it at all.

So first off, who are the A's and B's? Then any suggestions for those hoping to rate up in the future.

I am a graduate H-A, I did my B when I was 14 (I presume your daughter was too) and then had to wait two years to do my H-A. I passed on the first time and a great prep for college interviews etc. My A eluded me because it took a back seat to my other goals CCI's, and college and I never fully focused on it. I wish I had had the luxury of having until I was 25 to take my A.

My suggestion for your daughter is to find an old school A pony clubber (a graduate from the 70's/80's/90's) and have him or her work with your child on the various areas once a month since she has 2 years.

My greatest fear was failing the lunging at my H-A. A group of friends that went for their H-A a few years before me had multiple people fail lunging and the work with the local pro was a huge help. She had a barn of 30 horses and I also had to go through the entire barn and age them by their teeth and assess them for what "job" they would be suitable for.

And the wrapping, assuming PC is still going the cottons/cheesecloth and flannels route practicing H-A level shipping, standing, exercise and spider bandages is really important.

PC is an excellent organization and as with PP I don't necessarily agree with the new direction I still think the horsemanship and maturity it teaches kids is worth the negatives.

Oct. 8, 2009, 04:00 PM
Graduated in '96 with my HA--this is back when everyone did their "A" in eventing and you aged out at 21...sadly, I didn't have a horse capable of taking my "A"--only youngsters. I wish I had. That's actually a big regret of mine...not going for my "A"

I'm proud to say I made it to my HA without EVER having to redo a wrap and without ever failing a rating or part of a rating! :lol::lol: It's still one of my greatest achievements.

I remember at my HA, the examiner asked about my bandages that I presented..."What do you think of your bandages," she asked.

"I think they're good."

"Is there anything about them you'd like to change?"


"I agree!" she said.

HAHA! So nerve wracking.

Longing and teaching were the two "events" people failed on FREQUENTLY at my B and my HA. Practice those, and practice them on DIFFERENT horses. I drew a 3 year with little/no experience longing and basically had to TEACH her to longe (and wrap her, braid her, bathe her, present her for show)...She (the filly) was a pill, but I grew up in a combined driving barn, so I longed CONSTANTLY :lol::lol::lol:, so I solicited a second person to assist in teaching her (she was a two-man job :lol:)---they respected that I knew enough to realize she/I needed a second person to give her a positive experience on the longe line. 50% of people at my C3, B, and HA failed them.

I basically rode around with my vet for a year before I was brave enough to go for my HA...which was a good thing, because you really needed to know your stuff!!!

They are looking for maturity as well...dress the part, act the part, speak the part, be the part of a professional horseperson.

I have yet to use that much practiced Spider bandage...;)

I did a little volunteer work within the last several years with a local club and was very unimpressed with the regular turnout of the kids to clinics, their general attitudes, and the attitudes of their parents, but I'm hoping that's a local issue and not a nationwide trend.

If PC made an HA pin, I'd buy one and sport it at the recognized dressage shows I'm attending these days...

Oct. 8, 2009, 04:02 PM
Got my HA when I was 16 (omg, 9 years ago! :eek:) and never tried for my A... never really had a horse, and then when the increased the age limit, I seriously considered going for it, but decided that there was better things I could be doing with my $$. I was a HM judge from the time I was 18, judged at nationals, and now teach for local pony clubs. I think that pony club is a very good thing to go through, but there definitely were some, um, interesting experiences that I had to go through.

Oct. 8, 2009, 04:05 PM
I have yet to use that much practiced Spider bandage...

My trainer is also a graduate "A" and I actually saw him pull out the "spider bandage" once several years ago! I think he muttered something about practicing it all those years....

Oct. 8, 2009, 04:20 PM
Graduate HA. I didn't pass my A, but I don't have any regrets. Pony Club is a great organization, and I learned a TON along the way.

The upper level ratings are hard. That's all there is to it. I hadn't ever failed a rating until the A, and it was really hard on me, but I know it's because I didn't meet standards. I'm still very pleased to be an HA. If she really wants to be overprepared for her testings, have her spend several weeks (if not a whole summer) with a national examiner prepping. It really makes a difference in your understanding of the system and nerves.

Oct. 8, 2009, 04:36 PM
Graduate A here! back from the 90's in Minnesota! Took my A in IL and also my HA....

One of my proudest accomplishments...

Very tough but worth every minute!

Oct. 8, 2009, 04:45 PM
Current B! I got my B when I was 16 and just starting to event. It was a big stretch for me and the examiners definitely said that I "needed a little more time" before I took my HA. Since then (4 and a half years!) I've still remained an active pony clubber but lost interest in rating again. Maybe someday. . .

Oct. 8, 2009, 04:45 PM
I got my HA in 1987 and did not take the A for a couple of reasons - mostly I didn't have a horse. I was in college and it was hard enough borrowing horses for the B test that finding an A horse and having the time to work a summer job and prep for the A just wasn't in the cards.

I really appreciate how much knowledge PC sort of forced me to learn - and I actually HAVE used that spider bandage! (And the figure-8 and the real exercise wrap).

Oct. 8, 2009, 04:47 PM
Penobscot Pony Club near Bangor/Brewer Maine.

I love pony club and the emphasis on learning and respect and care for the horse first.

I think that the stupid picky tack inspections (except for safety and cleanliness) turned many away from pony club (including my brother who was a much better rider than I will ever be).

I never would have gone to law school if I did not want to find a job to support my horse.

I have loved horses since I was in fifth grade. I still ride three or four days a week. I keep my mare at home and just love to hang out at the barn.

Most of my jobs have come from what I learned in pony club. This includes my first job out of law school. I was teaching for a pony club near Boston. The economy was very bad and one of the pony club dads gave me a lead. I also lived overseas for ten years and taught in pony clubs.

So often, my life has been touched by the things I learned and the people I met in pony club.

Oct. 8, 2009, 04:55 PM
I got my B in '71, but we didn't do any longing or teaching. GBHPC (metro region).

Riding, both jumping and flat, with changing horses, plus knowledge (both written and oral) and practical (bandaging etc.).

I had no problem with the written/oral, and was OK on the practical, but it was a bit close on the ridden part. My saving grace that I was able to get round the show jumping course CLEAN with a horse that nobody (including its own rider) could get over any fence without at least one refusal first.

I can go anywhere in the world, and if anyone asks my about my riding ability, I can say that I am a graduate B. That gives an objective measure of how good a rider I am, or at least WAS.

I went off to college the next year, which pretty much put an end to PC activity.

Oct. 8, 2009, 05:21 PM
B Graduate, I loved pony club!

I would have done my HA and A except my club and area never had the testing!! They also wouldn't help organize me to go to another region to test, then I aged out.

I'm still bitter.

Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl
Oct. 8, 2009, 10:42 PM
Graduate H-A, my only PC regret is I never tried for my A. Though, umm, in hindsight I'm quite sure I never was as good a rider as a teen as I thought, and I might have gotten quite the shock at an A rating...

My PC experience was excellent, all the way through. Excellent weekly mounted lessons from excellent instructors, very educational weekly inspections by an old school, inspect your horse in the dark and know everything you might have missed horsewoman.

Catalina, who do you ride with?

Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl
Oct. 8, 2009, 10:47 PM
Suggestions? Watch all the really good riding and instructing she can, don't be afraid to politely at a quiet moment ask riders and trainers why they do X, and really practice being able to articulate what she is feeling or seeing, and why she is doing what she is doing. Even if she doesn't pass, those are skills which will serve her well.

Oct. 8, 2009, 10:52 PM
Graduate H-A from 1975. Passed my first time on all tests, but aged out before I could take "A" riding levels (it wasn't 21 back then!) I have done a bit of everything, did quite a bit of eventing up thru prelim (I always liked bringing on the young horses) thru the early 90's. Still teaching eventing but haven't actually competed USEA since the last Ft. Bragg HT in 2001. Also do a good bit with H/J, have competed dressage thru 2nd level. I really ENJOYED the H-A test, felt totally prepared and had no problems with it, but then I have always enjoyed testing and a challenge. BUT it was tough and a long three days! You need to know EVERYTHING (at least you did back then!). We did lunging and teaching in the H-A but not the B's. We were given a horse when we arrived for H-A's that we basically had for the weekend to care for, and test on (not riding, but for everything else). We also had to judge horses' conformation etc. Just a thorough test of all aspects of knowledge, feeding/nutrition, veterinary, teaching, lunging, etc. I loved PC and still d, but not at all involved since the 70's

Oct. 8, 2009, 11:10 PM
Wow, it's nice to hear so many positive things about the upper levels of pony club. From what I saw you should all be proud of your accomplishments.

Oct. 9, 2009, 09:02 AM
Graduate A, Groton Pony Club (Central New England) 1989. The program was great for me - I did not even own a horse, and it kept me able to push myself and ride at a high level. I drove myself to Kentucky for my test, caught a fat, unfit, white loaner horse out of a field, and got to work. Amazing experience - I remember it like it was yesterday. Even got to jump an Intermediate Broken Bridge, which gave new meaning to the idea "passed with her eyes closed.":)

Pony Club ratings have opened many doors for me in the horse industry. Heck, they still do. PC is a good professional network, and to say "graduate A" implies a significant and understandable level of knowledge and experience.

I'm now a trainer and have several B and H-A students, one a current A candidate - the rating system ensures that riders don't skip any steps in their educations. Now that I'm participating in the USEA ICP program, the connections are being re-illustrated.

Upper level ratings also help kids get jobs and working student positions, and are useful on college applications - they show (by quantifying our accomplishments) that kids' participation in this sport is meaningful for personal development and to their communities. Dispells the "rich horsey girl" stereotype.

Oct. 9, 2009, 10:37 AM
I'm a graduate B from the 80's. I never went for my A since I went to college and my young OTTB was a stretch at the B. haha He was not perfect - refusals, etc, but they wanted to see that I could explain why he was doing what he was doing and that I could improve it on the second go.

I would say ride as many horses as you can and be able to discuss your ride, the horse's strengths and weaknesses, practice bandages daily and study, study, study! I think the people who failed at my rating were the ones that didn't answer at all to bookwork questions they didn't know. At least try to say something! My sister had to teach at her C3, but we lucked out and didn't have to at our B. We did have to go over lesson plans and how to handle different teaching situations.

I think PC gave me the horsemanship chops that are so lacking today. I wish all kids did PC. The ones at my local barn know nothing about horse care - they all rely on the barn manager. They own expensive horses and don't know even how to wrap!

Getting my B is one of my proudest accomplishments. I use what I learned on a daily basis. I STILL look up tons of stuff in my PC manual. (The new set of three manuals came out later and while I do refer to those a lot I find the organization frustrating - always have to look in all three!) You can always walk into a new barn and say "I got my B" and people have a frame of reference for your skill level.

A lot of kids complained about the tough inspections and ratings, but I thrived on them. To me it was showing that you do your homework and follow the rules. You take care of things as you're supposed to. I think a lot of the complainers were the ones that would do nothing all year and try to cram the learning and cleaning into the night before.

I don't know what PC is like now. I've read about the different rating tracks and age cutoffs and it sounds easier now. I assume they are trying to keep members in this age of instant gratification and that's tough because PC is not just having fun. How do you get a kid to want to face tough ratings and have to learn and be responsible if the parents and trainers don't encourage it? But I have no first-hand experience with PC now. When I was in it, the politics were fierce, but it was no worse than anything else in life. I say stick with it because it's worth it. And good luck to your daughter!

Oct. 9, 2009, 10:37 AM
I have to say that it really helps with getting a horse related job.

If someone else has applied for a job who has the same experience and riding ability as myself and I also apply but I have my 'A' rating... hands down... I've gotten the job.


Oct. 9, 2009, 11:17 AM
I'm a graduate A of the Canadian Pony Club. I always passed my ratings with flying colours until I did my HA and A. I can't say I totally agree with what I failed on (there were definitely some politics that I heard about from other people afterwards) - but I decided to "get even" and prove that they couldn't fail me no matter how much they wanted to the second time around.

I found the ratings to be unnecessarily stressful at times. Several times I had to get out the testing procedures manual and show the examiners that what they were asking for was NOT mandated (e.g. teaching 3 kids at D2 level - they put me in with a group of kids that had a D1 on a 12hh pony, 2 D2s, and a C on a 16hh horse, and I was supposed to teach grids in 20 mins.). I couldn't believe some of the Pony Club "nonsense" for testing either - we were supposed to demonstrate knowledge and an ability to solve problems and do what's right for each horse - yet the examiners would do stupid things like instead of having "start times", having everybody warm up together, then randomly call each person individually for their dressage while the rest continued "warming up" - so person #8 "warmed up" for over 2 hours.

Funnily enough, several times a month or two after testing I'd get a Pony Club memo in the mail regarding the "new change to national testing procedures" which I had insisted on at the test ;)

As an examiner myself now, I really try to make testing a positive (and efficient) experience for kids. Not to say that I am lenient, but I am not mean, as some of my testers had been.

What I enjoyed most about Pony Club was the Quiz (I think the US version is "Know Down") - prepping for national Quiz was a great way to be ready for the written tests and to increase your knowledge base for the horsemanship phase.

Since I got my A, some of the standards have been relaxed, and with the "specialty ratings" I feel that has cheapened the A rating now.

I don't actively encourage people to "go for their A" - it is very much up to the individual's desire and ability to cope with the pressures. Canada also has a stupid system whereby the national A tests are usually within the same 2 weeks as NAJYRC, so that often weeds a lot of the pool out.

My A has possibly opened a few doors, although it was more of a personal achievement for me - my coach is also an A and we have been working together for years. I have learned much more about riding, management and horsemanship after I got my A just by working with her.

Oct. 9, 2009, 11:18 AM
Graduate B here.

I agree with all of those who said to be prepared for the longeing and teaching. I failed my HA because of teaching, and it was a very big shock to me, as I had been teaching for a couple of years at the time and was a working student for a national examiner for 2 years --- needless to say I thought I had a pretty good handle on teaching. What got me was that I was used to teaching mostly individuals or occasionally the small group, and in a large outdoor arena. Working with 5 kids on gymnastics in what ammounted to be a dressage ring, that was a new experience, and I wasn't prepared to manage my time with the condensed atmosphere.

So, for the teaching, I would suggest get as much teaching experience in different situations. And don't just teach the kids in your club. If you are close enough to another club, try and go teach there once in a while. The name of the game is being prepared to teach in any circumstance, and any level. I got the D-2s, which again, I was used to teaching kids a little older, so I wasn't quite ready for that change.

Good luck with the prep. Pony Club was a great experience, and as mentioned before, UL ratings open a lot of doors.

Oct. 9, 2009, 11:58 AM
Graduate B Middle Tennessee Pony Club 1981.

I was the only horse crazy kid of unhorsey parents and four brothers who played any sport involving a ball. That Pony Club emphasized unmounted knowledge was crucial for me as I was and had to be pretty independent in pursuing riding. I am certain that the knowledge and confidence I gained through Pony Club is the primary reason I have been able to stick with it as an adult amateur years later. Opening the doors and providing the tools to a kid for something that becomes a lifelong passion is a great gift!

I had to give up horses for college so didn't go for an HA or A. I did get a job managing the on the road operation for a trainer on the A H/J circuit just based on a recommendation and my PC rating. Of course, because I came from PC the trainer assumed I did not braid and I just kept my mouth shut and let him believe it! He did tell me that his horses were never turned out better--I went and bought curry combs, used them and made the kids that liked to mess with their own horses use them too. They thought I was bonkers until they saw the results in about two weeks!

Oct. 9, 2009, 02:17 PM
Graduate H-A. I actually took my B on my OTTB who was still a little crazy cantering fences, so I did all of my jumping for my B test (on my horse) at the trot! Of course I cantered the course on my switch horse, but I felt really sorry for my friend Amy who had to ride my boy for the switch! I passed my H-A with flying colors at 16, but school has always been easy for me.

I took (an failed) my A the summer when I was 17. My prelim, getting ready to move up to intermediate eventer chipped his coffin bone 3 weeks before the test. My friend let me borrow her jumper, but the dressage was "interesting" to say the least. I passed the show jumping, but that poor horse had never seen a cross country course in his life. It was such a mistake to take him. He had no idea what to do with the banks (these were big, prelim banks) and I knew that pushing him would overface him, and I knew at that point that I probably wasn't passing, so I asked the examiners if I could just withdraw. They told me they respected my decision. Looking back, I can't believe I even took that horse. I guess I had worked so hard and felt so prepared that I couldn't let it go. My horse was never sound enough to jump at that level again, so I just did dressage with him, and I never found a suitable horse to take the test on again. It still bothers me to this day that I am not a graduate A. Oh well.

Oct. 9, 2009, 02:33 PM
Got my B in 1989, then went to work galloping and grooming at the track.

Funny story - When I went for my C3, another candidate's horse suddenly went lame at the testing, so I offered her use of my horse. God bless him, he was good as gold the entire weekend for both of us. But the other candidate passed, and I did not! Talk about a blow to the ego.

I passed the C3 next time out. But that whole incident still stings a little :lol:

Oct. 9, 2009, 02:57 PM
I joined PC (Appalachian Pony Club, NC) when I was in 6th grade with my little 14.3h QH gelding. Through the years I have has great experiences and bad ones, but the good ones far outweigh the bad. I have met and networked with some of the best people in the world. I met my best friend DURAMAX at our C3 in '98. I also met RAAVE05 through PC and did my B and HA with him, and met BREAKTHRU through PC at did our B, HA, and A.

I ended up doing a year as a "visiting student" in my hometown my sophomore yr of college at a local university so that I could be near a truck and trailer and have access to both my horses (flat horse was the QH mentioned above). I passed the A in 2002, which has opened many doors for me. Last year I went to Ireland to teach at an international camp and then galloped racehorses. I am also very thankful that I can bandage, as I have witnessed pro grooms at high end H/J facilities that have saggy bandages that do not offer anything for the horse, except for shavings inside the bandage.

I have enjoyed PC so much and what is has done for me that I have gone through the process of becoming a National Examiner. I just became official this week! The examiners I had made my rating experiences good and I want to make sure that it continues for those coming through the ratings.

Oct. 9, 2009, 03:06 PM
Another note about your ratings, be prepared for new riding situations. UNCEventer was kind enough to bring a crazy OTTB who had to be ridden in a side-pull! Lucky us when we got to switch horses :)

So, just be prepared at national ratings that you could get a little of anything. The more diversification in your training the better you will do...at least that's how it was before the specialized ratings.

Oct. 9, 2009, 03:11 PM
I'm a graduate A from Middle Tennessee Pony Club!

I got both my HA and my A the summer that I was 16 (1995-ish). For me, the HA was the MUCH harder test. I was always a good student and did well on all the knowledge sections but bandaging and formal inspection were the bane of my existence. This is still evident in my turnout at all competitions :) I also found sticking to exactly what they wanted tough during the teaching and longing sections. It is hard to know what they want!

For whatever reason, the A was very straightforward for me. At that time I had recently moved up to intermediate on my horse ( a little OTTB that I bought going novice 3 years earlier...best YR horse on the planet) and had already done a CCI*. So the questions asked of us in the test were pretty straightforward. I also grew up on a breeding/training farm so I was used to riding lots of different horses - I would definitely recommend riding everything you can get your hands on before the test. My coach, Jim Graham, was a former A himself and a former national examiner. I had a friend in the barn going for her A at the same testing and he drilled us on all of the aspects of the test all summer, which was VERY helpful. When we arrived we were pleased to realize the examiners were a lot less tough than Jim!

I absolutely loved my PC experience. I always say that doing my HA prepared me for medical school more than anything else. The process of finding your own study materials, learning the topics inside and out, producing a concise, coherent answer to any question posed to you, keeping calm under pressure, and yes sometimes doing little things that seem to make no logical sense while being nit-picked is very much like my life in medicine!

Oct. 9, 2009, 03:47 PM
Grad B here (was 16 or 17 mid 90s). Passed all my ratings first time, never went for HA/A.
Tell your daughter to go for it and work as hard as she can and make sure she is above standard. In my experiences through the preps and ratings, some people passed and some failed. Sometimes I agreed with the outcome and sometimes I thought there might have been a touch of political BS about. Tell her that if she doesn't pass to try again and that it is NO BIG DEAL! So many don't pass and just going is a HUGE help for passing the next time.
Bottom line is that PC was awesome and I LOVED the opportunities that being an "upper level" PCer afforded me. I got to work with some of the best clinicians back then.
Just don’t let her get discouraged by grumpy examiners or equine setbacks. She can always borrow a horse if hers is not up to it and examiners have to be grumpy, rating is a right of passage, a hazing of sorts :) confidence is key!
Just a tip for the bandaging: learn to do whatever bandages are on the standard that you need- then make a set if you can (don't buy if you can help it, because if you make them they can be customized. there were certain fabrics and lengths of quilts/wraps that I worked well with) then only use that set for ratings.
BTW I have totally used a spider bandage (the same one I made when I was 16)!!!

Oct. 9, 2009, 04:59 PM
Canadian Pony Clubber here with my B2 level in 1988(it was the last thing I ever did in PC; I aged out). I did 9 regional rallies, 2 national rallies and 2 quizzes(regional) in 11 yrs of membership. I would have loved to have had a chance to do my HA and A, and "resent";) the new age limit- lucky ducks who get to stay unitl 25!!!!! I did my B2 tests around my short-lived first university degree- after it ended wound up as a working eventer student for a grduate A who convinced me I should try again.
I had to do both my B and my B2 twice, and both times it was the riding phase that "got me". Although, if you ever met the mare I took my B on, you'd be astonished I ever got it at all. Stable management and written tests were/are obviously my forte:D
I don't have a lot to do with PC now, as the club I helped "restart" when I moved out to the island told me after 2 years I wasn't PC(pony club) enough, but it was probably more the other "pc" and I didn't stroke enough parent's or darling daughters' egoes:mad::lol:...

Oct. 9, 2009, 09:09 PM
Graduate A here- early 80's- That rating is still one of the things I am most proud of- All 8-10 candidates failed the first time I took it, then 2 out of 8-10 passed the next time, including me- both tests were taken on borrowed horses- for the second rating I was assigned a TB gelding that had just come back from Nationals where he was the highest ranking something or another- and I couldn't ride half of him, bc he wanted you to sit, look pretty, and keep your legs off- I know the people at the host club were horrified but I explained why we were having so much trouble- and by the end of the weekend they weren't using him anymore, so at least I wasn't the only one who had trouble with him. I could have ridden him and faked it but kept trying to get him to accept my legs and seat. For the xc portion I got to choose first and I took a big bay who had been quitting all along- but he reminded me of a horse that I adored (minus the quitting)- I rode him like he was the adored horse and he never stopped once with me.

The thing I learned at the first testing was that when the examiners would ask you a question about your ride or the horse, and you responded, they would listen but give absolutely NO indication of whether they agreed or not- that first testing I started second guessing my answers, but by the second time around I knew they wanted us to be confident in our answers and were not going to give any feedback until the end when we found out if we passed or not.......

Bev Strauss
Former member Somerset Hills PC (NJ)
Executive Director, MidAtlantic Horse Rescue (MD)

Oct. 9, 2009, 09:55 PM
Just typed out a whole detailed reply and it got eaten! ugh!

I'm a graduate H-A, a National Examiner and the coach for the USPC Interpacific Exchange Team that will be competing in Hong Kong this summer. I'm actually doing a testing this weekend- I'm sitting at the organizer's house right now! :lol: I didn't join PC until I was 15, and never had my own horse until I was 20- and he wasn't even appropriate to test on so I always had to find horses to ride and test on. I was incredibly lucky to have an amazing RS who found horses for me to use. She is the reason I'm a NE now- its my way of giving back. I did my B & H-A the summer before I aged out of PC... and took 12 hours of summer school in college. I wasn't real fun to be around that summer! :lol: I wish that I would have been able to join when I was younger and experience the lower levels. I think PC has an amazing program. The life lessons that USPC provide are impossible to count.

On a side note I would like to address a personal pet peeve of mine... take it with a grain of salt. I always have to suppress a chuckle and an eye roll when people accuse the upper level ratings of being political. Perhaps at the lower club levels the ratings can be subject to politics, but at the upper levels they are incredibly fair and neutral. The Nat'l Office randomly assigns examiners from outside of the region to do the testings so that we don't know how much so and so paid for their horse, who the candidate rides with, etc. And trust me, no one wants the candidate to pass as much as the examiners themselves! It stinks to have to tell a kid they have not met the standard. We go to a seminar every year and painstakingly go over the standards to make sure we are all on the same page and are fair and as objective as possible. FWIW. :)

Oct. 9, 2009, 10:06 PM
Graduate A- I loved pony club!! I failed my first C-3 when i was 13, which was the best thing that ever happened to me- i came back the next year with a much more mature attitude, and took and passed a rating every year thru my A. My A was brutal- 14 of us took it and only 3 of us passed; we rode on the flat from 4 pm till 11:30 pm; my CCI** (long format- I took the test in the late 90's) fit TB was tired enough I had to ride the second horse I brought for XC on day 3 (I tested in CA, so I brought my brothers stubborn warmblood mare in case I needed a backup- good plan). If I had failed, I don't think I would have retested. I am still involved with the Pony Club- as a joint DC, a RIC, and a riding center area coordinator. I encourage my students to be in pony club (this summer I took 3 16-18 yr old girls to rally for 4 days without parents- it was a total kick!) I would encourage anyone looking to take the upper level tests to look into the USEA ICP program- even if you audit the program, there is so much information about HOW to structure a lesson, opportunities to watch instructors teach students that are unfamiliar to them, and feedback from some excellent instructors- all of which are very beneficial to those looking to take upper level ratings.
Pony club has really worked in the past years to get rid of (or at least rein in) those bad examiners who will remain unnamed. Horse management has become real again for the most part- you know- as in keeping horses, which poop, get dirty, etc as oppose to whatever they were doing before, most of which involved antagonizing well meaning kids. Oh, and I still use spider bandages! My favorite!

Oct. 9, 2009, 10:08 PM
I was typing while everyone else was posting- not aiming anything at Duramax, or any other NE!!

Oct. 9, 2009, 10:08 PM
I don't know what PC is like now. I've read about the different rating tracks and age cutoffs and it sounds easier now. I assume they are trying to keep members in this age of instant gratification and that's tough because PC is not just having fun.

You nailed it! USPC had quite a few years of negative membership growth and the Board of Governors decided something needed to be done. It is about membership retention. As to the specialty ratings, they are actually a notch above the corresponding "traditional" level. For instance, the show jumping C-3 candidates actually look more like traditional B's. The dressage A's are comparable to 3rd level dressage as opposed to very basic 2nd level work that is expected at the traditional A flat section. To get a specialty rating is quite a feather in your cap! :)

Oct. 9, 2009, 10:13 PM
Pony club has really worked in the past years to get rid of (or at least rein in) those bad examiners who will remain unnamed.

They really have. :yes: Many examiners have been weeded out and we all get yearly report cards, complete with actual comments from candidates! We all also have to do continuing education each year. The current Nat'l Testing Committee is devoted to having the best cast and crew of examiners possible. :)

Oct. 10, 2009, 11:32 AM
Graduate A from Valley Green Pony Club here!

To prepare for the rating I had been a WS for a 4* rider who is a very talented instructor for about a year, I found the rating to be really fun, because of good preparation. My horse ended up making a few candidates fail on the flat, they could not ride one side of him!

I do ratings on the local level, and attended the last standards and ratings clinic, and I feel the specialty ratings are a good thing, and they are not slouch ratings! It is really cool that kids who may not have been brought up in eventing situations can now achieve the credential of an A rating in their discipline.

Oct. 10, 2009, 12:20 PM
They really have. :yes: Many examiners have been weeded out and we all get yearly report cards, complete with actual comments from candidates! We all also have to do continuing education each year. The current Nat'l Testing Committee is devoted to having the best cast and crew of examiners possible. :)

There is still work to do in this area. Some National Examiners have VERY questionable riding credentials. Unfortunately, this leads to examiners that can not identify a rider that is doing everything correctly, even if the horse is not as willing or capable as some of the other. This can create a bias in favor of lesser candidates on made horses, and other undesirable results. Yes, horses need to be of a certain level to be at a National Level Rating, but examiners also need to be able to look beyond the flashy movement and beautiful horse to evaluate what the rider is doing, not the horse. I'm not convinced this is happening 100% of the time (or even close).

Just because an examiner has been with the organization for a long time, does NOT mean they are qualified. Examiners should be required to have ridden at the same level (or HIGHER) in the discipline than they are testing. You can't just learn it from a book, you have to have done it. Otherwise, you might be able to talk a good game, but...... If this means recruiting better Examiners (and compensating them appropriately), than so be it. It is no bargain to spend years and years preparing for an upper level rating only to go and find your Examiner can't adequately conduct the appropriate testing.

Kids thrive on fairness, even more than adults. Nothing will turn a kid off faster than being placed in an unfair situation. I understand Duramax rolling her eyes when someone claims a National Rating is political because Pony Club does make efforts to send Examiners from other regions, but politics do not necessarily mean an Examiner making decisions based upon who the rider is, per se.

Unqualified examiners that can't fully evaluate the candidates are extremely unfair. Similarly, Examiners and other adults that thrive on the authority and power can also create unfair situations (testings, rally stable management judges, etc.). It is important that Examiners and other adults in authority positions *actually* like and value kids (seems like a no brainer, but it isn't). We absolutely have National Examiners out there that enjoy demeaning and devaluing our young riders, which is inexcusable. Keeping National Examiners in their position just because they have been around forever and are very active at the National Level, even if they are not qualified and/or acting incorrectly, is extremely political in nature.

The focus needs to remain on the kids, not the adults. I hope Pony Club is commited to creating a fair, member focused organization or they will most definitely continue to lose members. I have never been directly involved in Pony Club but always thought it a worthwhile organization. My trainer was very involved and he is an "A" graduate, so I was somewhat brought up in the Pony Club model. After watching our local club and some of our members experience the "not so good" side of Pony Club both on the local and national level, I have stopped recommending it to other young riders at my barn. Unfortunately, I am guessing that I am not the only one, and that is a shame.

Oct. 10, 2009, 08:28 PM
SevenDogs, I'm really sorry to hear about your student's experiences in PC. I'm an active member in one of the largest/most active regions, and have taken 3 National ratings. Despite failing a section of my HA, I've really had positive experiences with NEs. For example, I passed my C3 on a horse that was the least fancy, greenest horse out there - by a long shot - and not really at all talented (can do training level, but is a really tough ride in dressage isn't an extremely honest jumper). Similarly, at that same rating, a girl who brought a Grand Prix dressage horse failed the flat portion. The three examiners were from all over the US. So, while I have no doubt that some NEs fall short of being fair, in my experience having attended probably 10 HB - A ratings as a candidate and helper, most are very qualified and very fair. And REALLY want all the kids to pass. A good friend of mine was the impartial observer at many of these ratings, and has never had anything negative to say about an NE.

Oct. 10, 2009, 09:08 PM
I have never been directly involved in Pony Club but always thought it a worthwhile organization. My trainer was very involved and he is an "A" graduate, so I was somewhat brought up in the Pony Club model. After watching our local club and some of our members experience the "not so good" side of Pony Club both on the local and national level, I have stopped recommending it to other young riders at my barn. Unfortunately, I am guessing that I am not the only one, and that is a shame.

I was really hoping to get feedback and guidance from those directly involved in Pony Club that have their A, HA, or B rating and not get into the "It's all political" debate. Do a spin-off thread if it's that important to you. We have been in pony club for years and already have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I would have to say that the good far outweighs any of the bad or my kid never would have stayed in this long.

It is interesting to hear how achieving the upper level ratings have impacted people in their lives...whether with horses or otherwise. While watching her B rating in August, I would say it pretty much compares to defending my dissertation for my MBA. It was not a walk in the park, and in my opinion the examiners did have extremely high expectations. But besides feeling a real sense of accomplishment, it was also a great experience for her to learn to advocate for herself in the future and I can't help but think job interviews are going to seem easy compared to the national ratings.

Oct. 10, 2009, 10:32 PM
Technopony: I have absolutely no doubt that there are many excellent National Examiners. I have seen them in action. Unfortunately, I have also seen the "not so good" and personally know the qualifications of several that do not have adequate riding credentials to be in that position. We can't settle for less than the best from some. The goal should be that ALL Examiners match the high standards set by the best.

EventingJunkie: Sorry for the hijack -- I was felt it important to add to Duramax's excellent post about the ways in which the Board of Govenors is addressing the needs of the membership. FWIW, I have no doubt that Duramax is among the best examiners from her qualifications, experience, and obvious appreciation for best of what Pony Club has to offer. I have no proverbial dog in this fight -- I am not an alum, don't have kids in Pony Club, or teach. What I do have is 15 years of fairly impartial observation of a very relevant issue for those that want to see Pony Club succeed.

Carry on....

Oct. 10, 2009, 11:02 PM
I even asked ahead for permission to use it... and you did a darn good job on him.

Oct. 11, 2009, 10:50 PM
Examiners should be required to have ridden at the same level (or HIGHER) in the discipline than they are testing. You can't just learn it from a book, you have to have done it.

They are required to do that.

Evalee Hunter
Oct. 11, 2009, 11:00 PM
Graduate A from Middletown Pony Club (Delmarva Region) in 2001. Pony Club has it's good points and bad, and I can assure you that I personally experienced both, but I recommend it to anyone who ever asks me. I loved so many of the experiences I had while in PC; the friends I made, the ratings I took (good or bad they taught me a lot), being on the winning Prelim team at PC Nat. I try to be sure that all of my students who are kids get involved. Though I am now in racehorses and don't really show anymore I use so many of the skills I learned preparing for the H-A and A in what I do today. As far as taking the upper level ratings I would have to say they were so worthwhile. I didn't have the easiest time at the lower levels mainly because every horse I had was considered inappropriate for PC but they were all I could afford so I had to make do but the upper level ratings ended up being my chance to finally shine. And I agree that if your daughter chooses to do anything in horses that these ratings are an internationally recognized standard that will help her get a job.

When I got to the H-A it was such a relief because it finally came down entirely to me, either I knew it or I didn't, and that rating was the first I would say that I passed with flying colors. One of the NE's told me my bandages were the best she had ever seen and she had been a NE for 20 yrs. It was so rewarding to be able to acquire all that knowledge that I still use today, esp. those bandages with the lay-up business! I think that as long as you really buckle down and study this rating is well within anyone's grasp. Definitely focus on getting a lot of miles teaching and longing because they are such important and difficult parts. I spent the summer before working at a WB breeding farm where there were lots of young horses getting broke that needed to be longed and the experience of longing so many different types prepared me for possible tricky situations. And no matter what try not to doubt your knowledge, sometimes they try to get you to second guess yourself to see how confident you are as these are considered "trainer level" ratings.

Though many I talk to are surprised to hear me say it because the horror stories of the A usually outweigh the good, I loved that rating! It was the most fair and well done rating I ever did in PC ( inc. the D ratings) and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. I'm not saying it wasn't tough, it was as only 2 of 10 passed, but I really felt like for the first time I was able to express myself and be heard as trainer to trainer. And riding all those naughty, inappropriate horses finally paid off because there wasn't a horse there I couldn't get along with. I took an older OTTB that I had gotten as he was headed to New Holland, so the fancy horse is not required. He got hurt 6 months before the rating and still wasn't able to do the jumping so I went to just do the flat work and watch the rest. I was lucky enough to have one of the girls there offer me one of her horses for the jumping (she had brought 2 that could do the whole rating) and the NE's were agreeable to me using the horse as long as she was comfortable with it and I was comfortable doing the jumping on a horse I had never ridden. I did the flatwork on my horse and the jumping on hers. It worked out as well as in a story with both of us passing in the end. I could never thank that girl enough for her generosity!
My best advice for the A:
1. ride as many different horses as possible, nothing can prepare you better then experience and they really do expect a lot out of your switch rides
2. work on being great at the discussion, talk to lots of trainers and get good at explaining whats going on, what your doing and why
3. try to relax, I think part of why my rating went so well is that I went expecting to drop out so I didn't put so much pressure on myself, I was able to relax and truly ride to the best of my ability, even after getting the horse for the jumping I didn't think I had a "shot in hell" of passing on a horse I had never ridden so I stayed relaxed
4. enjoy it, even through the stress try to realize this is an amazing experience and an accomplishment in and of itself just to be there.

Good luck to your daughter with her H-A and A! I hope her experiences are as rewarding as mine were!

As a funny side note, I accompanied a student to a B rating this summer and it was the first upper level rating I had gone to since I had done mine. I had mentioned to her that her PIP had been the PIP at one of my ratings but I couldn't remember which one. We went to the briefing and afterward the PIP said to me that I looked familiar. I said I was sure I had had her for a rating and I thought it was my A, so she asked where I took it and if there were any strange things at the rating. I told her where I took it but she had done several at that facility and I didn't think there was anything strange that would make it stand out so she couldn't quite place me. Siily me, as then she says "but I did the coolest rating at that facility where one girl gave another girl a horse for the jumping and thought it was just the most PC thing I had seen for one girl to lend a horse of that level and another to do all the jumping for the A on a horse she hadn't ever ridden". We had a laugh as I informed her I was one of those girls and I just hadn't thought that would have stood out to anyone but me!


Oct. 11, 2009, 11:05 PM
They are required to do that.

um... no, they aren't. I know the qualifications of several National Examiners from my area that absolutely have not ridden to the level required for the Traditional "A" rating (or "B" for that matter), and yet, they are out there doing those testings. Perhaps there is an "or equivalent" provision that is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too generous and needs some serious re-examining.

There are others that are very, very qualified. We need to strive that ALL National Examiners are qualified.

Oct. 11, 2009, 11:43 PM
I am a Graduate A and a National Examiner. I have been involved in PC for 33 years. I think that kinda speaks for itself.
The NEs are required to have extensive references and apprentice before they are allowed to test. We attend a seminar each year that is a great experience for us to get together and learn from each other. We generally test in groups of three as we all have our strengths that we bring to a test.
I recommend the OP's daughter attend some upper levels tests and work some with an NE, however, she does not have to work extensively with an NE to pass a rating. The upper level ratings are such a good experience, both the preparation and the test will hopefully be something that will add to her overall horsemanship for the rest of her life.
I am very proud of my A to this day.

Oct. 11, 2009, 11:50 PM
um... no, they aren't.

Except for the part where they are. :) They must have ridden, competed or judged at or above the level they will be testing.

Oct. 11, 2009, 11:55 PM
I was lucky enough to have one of the girls there offer me one of her horses for the jumping (she had brought 2 that could do the whole rating) I could never thank that girl enough for her generosity!

Great story! My daughter experienced the same generosity this summer when her horse got a stone bruise after the flat work. Another girl lent her horse so she could continue the rating. I was amazed she would lend her horse to someone she barely knew to jump prelim cross country. Amazingly generous and selfless...this is one of the high points of pony club...meeting great kids and then looking forward to seeing them at future horse trials.

Oct. 11, 2009, 11:56 PM
The NEs are required to have extensive references and apprentice before they are allowed to test.

I have no doubt that this is true. However, apprenticing and training is NOT a substitute for actual riding experience at the same level (or higher) for which they are testing. You can not learn to ride from a book and you can not accurately evaluate a rider at a level that you have never ridden.

Oct. 12, 2009, 12:24 AM
I'll back SevenDogs on his/her argument. There are definitely some NE in Canada who fit SevenDogs' description more than Duramax's.

As far as politics go, in Canada one Senior Examiner is chosen each year, who travels the country and does all the "A" ratings. So depending where you're from, it can be very likely that you will have an examiner who *does* know every person at a rating.

Since I was from a 'boony' region, and had to travel for some ratings, I had actually had the same examiner for my B, B2 and A ratings. It was definitely getting political by the time I reached A level.

Oct. 12, 2009, 12:54 AM
Except for the part where they are. :) They must have ridden, competed or judged at or above the level they will be testing.

I wish that were true... I really do. However, I know for an absolute fact that is not the case with some current NE's in our area. So either the standards are not what you think or qualifications have been mis-stated.

Honestly not trying to be argumentative (or hi-jack -- sorry OP). The facts are just the facts. There are current NE's that are NOT qualified in the way that you state. In our area, we all know these folks, we all know their qualifications (or lack thereof), and it is disappointing to see a national program like Pony Club put them in the position of being a NE. It also makes me wonder what the average qualifications are nationwide. Certainly, there are many current NE's that are "A" Grads, Experienced upper level riders, even Olympians, so it is all the more sad that there are some that are clearly not qualified.

It gives Pony Club a bad rap and makes people like me not willing to recommend Pony Club to young riders that I ride with, which is a shame because Pony Club can be (and *IS* in many ways) a great program. Membership numbers in our area are dwindling and several clubs have actually closed down. I am watching what the Board of Govenors does very closely (as well as the testing committee) because I would like to be able to recommend it and see Pony Club succeed!

Oct. 13, 2009, 01:08 AM
I'm a graduate A from the Huntsville Pony Club, the first and only one so far actually. I failed my fair share of upper level ratings, but stuck to it. I can honestly say from the bottom of my heart that everything I learned in life I learned from Pony Club. Did my A rating on my mom's horse for dressage and a borrowed horse for jumping, as my perfect event horse broke his leg the spring before my rating. I spent my whole life working and riding for Jim Graham, graduate A and former National Examiner, and that helped boatloads. Then spend the summer before my H-A, and A, working for Ann Haller. That was perfect. Wouldn't trade it for anything.

Oct. 14, 2009, 02:15 PM
Graduate A from California, 1985 - loved it, would do it all over again! Failed the B twice due to weird things, then never looked back after passing with flying colors the 3rd time. I was the only one of 12 to pass my A and it was easy - probably due to the B test failures - and I was 21 so it was my last chance. I would highly recommend it for any child as some of the most important things I learned about life and riding were from my early days in pony club. Although I do not compete anymore (rode around Rolex twice in the early 90's), I use my pony club skills everyday in caring for my 2 rescue ponies on the small Caribbean island I now call home. I still have those "Formal Inspection" skills and practice "pony club safe" with my day to day stable management.

Oct. 14, 2009, 03:12 PM
I am a 2005 graduate B. I loved pony club and all of the things that I learned from it - it was the best start that I could have received in horses. I try to stay involved by helping the kids in my home club on a monthly basis. My only complaint was with my upper level testings, and they were the reason I didn't go on to get my HA and A. I passed the first time each time, but they were so hard on my horse I decided that I didn't want to make him go through another one. At my B, I was the only person who only had 1 horse. Everyone else had at least 2, one girl had 4 (1 each to longe, flat, jump, and one for the switch person to jump because her dad didn't want anyone else jumping her horse). I sort of thought that you should be able to meet the standard on any horse, not that you needed "specialty" horses to meet the standard in each section. However, only having one made mine really tired and cranky because the riding lasts so long.

It was a huge accomplishment and one that I am very proud of, but my advice is to work with a NE beforehand if possible. Those that knew the little "tricks" they were looking for (like on the record book, etc) because they had worked with a NE were at a huge advantage. Also, take more than one horse if there is anyway you can. Yours will appreciate it.

Oct. 15, 2009, 09:49 AM
Yes! I agree with taking more than one horse. At my B I had 2 because the flat horse (my horse) could only jump the height if you got him in right. I did not think it was fair expect other people to be able to do that. Also he was semi navicular, so it totally saved him!

At my A, I had the above flat horse (who was nothing fancy- 14.3h QH), and a borrowed horse that was 18h that I had only ridden 5 times. But this horse had never done xc, so I brought my other horse just for the xc.

At the end of the rating I still had 3 happy, sound horses. :)

Oct. 15, 2009, 10:33 AM
I am a graduate H-A from Western New York and I have to say Pony Club was the best thing ever for me. I joined at age 9 and stayed in until they kicked me out at 21 :) As a back yard rider with very little money, Pony Club gave me the education I desperately needed but couldn't afford. I was so amazingly proud when I passed my H-A. I poured my heart into studying for that exam and knew that I was completely responsible if I passed or failed. It was the most stressful two and a half days of my life. I still remember the name of the horse I presented (Jessica) and the question that nearly made me fail (What are osselets and where area they found? COMPLETE BLANK!!) When I passed, (with an excellent on my lunging, thanks to training at a British Horse Society facility for nine months), it was the best feeling.

I took my A a year later because I was getting ready to age out. Unfortunately, I was not up to the A standard, but the testing was still an amazing experience. I remember sitting up the night of the first day of testing, crying, because I had been told I failed. I called my instructor and wailed to her that I failed. She, being the very unsympathetic Dressage Queen that she is, stated flatly, "So?". I said, "What do you mean, SO? I failed!" And she came back with, "So you failed. I'm sorry you failed. But what does that mean? Does it mean you're going to quit riding? Does it mean that you will never be at that level? No. It means on this day and on that horse, you weren't there. So what? Learn from what you can. And work harder."

It was the best advice I'd ever received. On that day, on that horse, in that ring, I wasn't an A. So I failed. But I had learned so much getting to that day, spent so much time and effort and gotten so much help, it was completely worth it. The next day, I spoke with the examiners and they let me stay for the rest of the test and use it as a clinic. Out of the 11 candidates that took the test with me, only two passed.

I am not a graduate A Pony Clubber because I never had the opportunity to take the test again. Despite that, I look back on my Pony Club years as the best in my life. I went to seven National Championships. I played Games, learned Polocrosse, participated in Tetrathlon, Evented, and worked on my horse management. Pony Club helped me find perspective, overcome challenges, make friends, and develop confidence. I hope every child, whether they ride or not, has the opportunity to find an organization that helps them not only develop in a sport, but develop as whole. Pony Club did that for me and I am very thankful for it.