With recent years full of dramatic changes for the U.S. Pony Club, including some new changes for 2007, the USPC Annual Meeting, held Jan. 24-28 in Portland, Ore., was an opportunity for the membership and leaders to prepare for some of these new programs.
At the helm during this period of growing pains will be newly elected President Art Kramer, the former first vice president under Margo Leithead. Her term saw the start last January of the three-year trial period of an age limit extension from 21 to 25, the development of the specialty rating system, the formation of the USPC Riding Center program, which started its five-year test phase in 2006, a new building for the National Office at the Kentucky Horse Park, as well as a dramatically overhauled approach to horse management.
The new programs strive to expand USPC’s attractiveness to young riders, while main-taining the principles upon which the group was founded. Nearly 200 members are already taking advantage of the age extension, which provides more opportunity for older member to achieve their goals in Pony Club without compromising their scholastic or non-USPC riding objectives. USPC Riding Centers, of which there are already six, provide the Pony Club educational experience to children without consistent access to a mount, an issue that is being addressed for the first time at the national level.
The specialty rating system approved at last year’s meeting, which provides opportunities for members to achieve ratings along dressage, show jumping or traditional (eventing) tracks, will be debuting this year. The ratings should prove attractive to riders who concentrate in a given discipline and might have otherwise opted to leave Pony Club.
The system combines the knowledge portions of the C-3 and B tests into the unmounted HB rating, which is taken after the C-2. Following the HB, members take discipline-specific C-3 and B tests, before moving on to a universal H-A, and eventually an A test in their chosen track. Lateral moves between disciplines are also allowed, and there is no longer a mandatory wait period between ratings. For more information, refer to: http://www.ponyclub.org/pdfs/FAQ aboutspe cialtyratings.pdf and http:/ /www. ponyclub.org/pdfs/ PonyClub treeoflearning.pdf.
Last year, construction was completed on an 8,000-square foot building, directly behind the USPC National Office, which is currently being leased to six other equine organizations. The plan for the building was the brainchild of Treasurer Bill Weiss, and the rental fees on the structure are projected to cover the building expenses by the time USPC needs to use the space itself.
Kinder, Gentler Horse Management
Pony Club’s approach to horse management, particularly as it has been judged at rallies, has come under scrutiny in recent years. As greater numbers of judges have been brought into the mix, the general aura surrounding horse management has begun to transition from that of an educational exchange to one often colored by dread, anxiety and frustration, as the focus shifted to judging instead of teaching. Following a brainstorming session in late 2005, a new approach–or, more accurately, a return to an old approach–was proposed to redirect the spotlight on instruction.
As a trial, a new outlook on judging was employed for the show jumping competitions at Championships East and West this past summer. Overall, the rules and expectations were not changed, but communication was stressed between judges and competitors, with the hope that judges would be perceived more as teachers, and less as eagle-eyed, point-deducting critics.
The trial was so well received that the program was fast-tracked for execution across the board this year, in conjunction with an incredibly simplified Horse Management Handbook and Rules for Rallies published in January 2007.
This new structure allows for regional and personal variability in horse care practices, as long as they are sound and the competitor can support the reasons for their use. “The new philosophy, and what we’re training all the chiefs to do, is that no penalty point is given without first having a conversation, and, except for immediately dangerous situations, giving the person an opportunity to fix the problem,” explained horse management committee co-chairperson Sarah Adams. “Our job is to teach horse management principles and encourage you to do them at home. Our job is to teach you to put the pinny on and why it’s important, not to give you points for not having it.”
At Saturday evening’s banquet, Leithead recalled her speech at the meeting in Philadelphia three years ago, when she discussed what she wanted to accomplish during her term. “The first [goal], although I did not use these terms, was to change the face of horse management. Thanks to the extraordinary leadership of [co-chairpersons] Jan Goodmundson and Sarah Adams and the work of the Horse Management Committee we have done just that,” said Leithead. “Horse management has become an educationally centered, conversational exchange between two or more people, each an expert at his or her level and demonstrating an enormous amount of respect for each other.
“I began my speech by remarking that I was far and away the oldest president of Pony Club, perhaps even elderly, and now I’m three years older,” she added. “Pony Club has never been known for its swift, forward movement into the future, but I cannot resist saying, ‘I told you so.’ I think I have disproved the naysayers and can claim vindication, and perhaps I have struck a blow for the elderly in general.”
Giving And Receiving
While the Annual Meeting is, in part, a time for USPC to honor distinguished members and volunteers, this year the tables were turned as the organization was presented with an award of its own. The Equestrian Land Conservation Resource, a national non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of land for equine use, presented USPC with their Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Award, for their work in promoting land conservation.
The ELCR was founded in 1996 by a group of horsemen who were members of USPC’s Task Force for the 21st Century and had identified loss of land and access as the greatest threat to the organization. ELCR honored USPC this year for their continued work in the area of land protection, evidenced by the topic being embedded in their ratings standards and high-lighted in the “Where Will You Ride Tomorrow” feature in every issue of USPC News.
Sarah Mack, of Stones River Pony Club, Midsouth Region, received the Flash Team-work Award. Mack rejoined her club after the institution of the age extension. With goals to attend another rally and achieve her H-A rating, she accomplished far more than that after a teammate’s beloved mount collapsed and died on course after being pulled up at the second cross-country fence.
“Her maturity and knowledge was evident as the day went on. She comforted the younger members, she supported [the horse’s rider] and every decision he had made throughout the day,” wrote club D.C. Kathy Corley in her nomination. “This must have not only stood out to me, but also to the Horse Management judges, as they gave her the Nutrena Horsemanship Award at the end of the week.”
Betsy Alexander, Marge Beardsley, Margaret Good and Amy Lewis, all of whom had been honored as Pony Club Legends at the 100th anniversary celebration in Philadelphia three years ago, received the Founders Award in Portland.
Alexander, who founded the Woodside Pony Club (Calif.) in 1977 and became D.C. the next year, served on the Board of Governors from 1984 to 1991. She worked on many committees, was treasurer for one term, and used her paralegal skills to trademark the names “Pony Club” and “USPC.” She later served at the head of the Advisory Committee and continues to volunteer with Woodside, from which her daughter, Leigh, is a graduate H-A.
Beardsley became involved with Pony Club in the early ’60s, serving as the D.C. of Vashon Island P.C. (Wash.), and as the R.S. of the Northwest Region from late ’70s until 1984. She was a member of the board for three years and a member of the Dressage Committee at that time, as well. Her daughter, Kim, is a graduate B, Grand Prix dressage rider and instructor in Langley, B.C., and daughter Melissa, a graduate A, owns Blackwood Farm in Redwood, Wash.
Good and her family moved to Virginia in 1974, and she became D.C. of the Loudoun Hunt Pony Club three years later–a position she still holds. She organizes the Morven Park Spring Horse Trials (Va.) and the Loudoun Horse Trials (Va.). USPC benefited from this experience when she served on the Combined Training Committee for six years, leading the committee in 1994 and ’95. She is the mother of two graduate As, Janelle and Jeff, and the grandmother of three current members.
Lewis’ relationship with Pony Club began in 1954, as a member of the Wilton Pony Club (Conn.), which her grandfather had helped start. Twenty years later, she and her husband, Frank, became active with Radnor Hunt Pony Club (Pa.) as a parent volunteer, becoming D.C. in the early ’80s, staying on even after her children graduated. She has organized the Eastern Pennsylvania Regional Show Jumping Rally for more than 25 years, while also serving as vice-R.S., and as a member, and one-time chairperson, of the national Show Jumping Committee since 1980.
Grads Make An Impression
The National Youth Congress and Academy of Achievement programs again provided a select group of older members the chance to learn from Pony Club alums involved in a wide range of fields, thanks in part to the skills they learned in the organization.
“This year we provided more opportunities for the delegates to interact with the alums. At the end of the program, the delegates could ask direct questions to an alum panel,” explained committee chairperson and past honoree, Emily Wiley. “I think the delegates found it empowering to know how their lives and careers had taken wandering paths, and they’d still become successful, that if you keep an open mind and listen to your heart, things will be OK.”
This year’s group of 38 delegates worked with graduates Tom Eversole, Susan Knox, John A. Kosanovich, Linda Miller and Carol Ripple. Eversole, an equine surgeon who later earned his master’s degree in counseling psychology, is health administrator for Benton County, Ore., chairman of the state’s Chronic Disease Committee and serves on the governor’s Public Health Advisory Board. He started the Highland P.C. in Radford, Va., at age 20, later starting two more clubs before working as a National Examiner.
Knox, a Chief Deputy District Attorney in Weld County, Colo., is an active volunteer with a local homeless shelter and reading program for at-risk elementary school kids and sits on the board of an area drug treatment agency. A graduate B, she evented her 14.2-hand Quarter Horse-Arab through preliminary level, attending USPC championships six consecutive years.
An engineer for GEA Power Cooling, Kosanovich earned bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and environmental chemistry from the Colorado School of Mines, passed the Engineer in Training certification exam and was an avid rugby player.
Miller, a former intelligence officer and 15-year-veteran from the Marine Corps, earned her master’s degree in public administration and is starting another master’s program in human movement science. She was a U.S. World Team member in modern pentathlon in 1983 and 1986, a member of the World Junior Fencing Team, and has since completed several marathons and other races. A graduate B, she is currently a U.S. Army Civilian-Fitness instructor and aquatics instructor at Caserme Ederly in Vicenza, Italy.
A research consultant in Chapel Hill, N.C., Ripple works on policies that promote family and at-risk child well being. After dropping out of the University of Hawaii (in her native state) after three semesters to focus on horses and get her A, for five years Ripple later taught, competed, kept a small barn and raised her two children. She returned to school at age 30, earning her bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in psychology from Yale University (Conn.). Having worked as an assistant professor at Yale, she now holds adjunct faculty positions there and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
While only the Youth Congress delegates got to benefit from the wisdom and experience of these inductees, all of the banquet attendees had the opportunity to hear keynote speaker Amy Tryon, the 2006 World Equestrian Games individual bronze medalist and U.S. Eventing Association Lady Rider of the Year.
“My mom always dreamed of owning a horse, so when I was 1 and my sister was 3, she got us a pony and has spent the last 30 years living vicariously through us,” said Tryon, who manages Mapleleaf Eventing in Duvall, Wash. “My mom never said ‘no.’ She said, ‘You can do this if you find a way.’ She never let me give up on believing in myself if I set my mind on something, and Pony Club is one of the few organizations that teaches kids to believe in themselves, whether or not you stick with horses.”
2007 USPC Officers
First Vice President–Thomas Adams
Vice President, Activities–Anna Clader
Vice President, Festival–Margo Leithead
Vice President, Instruction–Larry E. Byers
Vice President, Regional Adminis-
Board of Governors: Patrick Allen, Nancy Pittman, John Wurzler, Nancy Ambrosiano, Sophie Pirie Clifton, Elizabeth Johnson, Shelley Ryan, Ron VanDyke, Jan Whitehouse, Tammy Erickson, Ann Rickard Haller, Alicia Henderson, Richard Lamb, Judy Richter
USPC Cavalry Award Recipients
Maya Black, A, South Whidbey P.C., Northwest Region
Hannah Burnett, B, Long Run P.C., Midsouth Region
Hannah Cohen, C-2, Sangre de Cristo P.C., Southwest Region
Lillian Heard, B, Seneca Valley P.C., Capital Region
*Paige Hewlett, C-3, Gator Bayou P.C., Red River Region
Skyeler Icke, H-A, Difficult Run P.C., Virginia Region
Callie Judy, C-2, Hinkson Valley P.C., Midwest Region
Kimberly Kaslow, C-3, Portola Valley P.C., Middle California Region
Katlyn McMorris, B, Fox River Valley P.C., North Central Prairie Region
Kirsten Selvig, B, Laurel Oaks P.C., Sunshine Region
Stephen Steinhoff, B, Moon Valley P.C., Middle California Region
Maura Teal, C-3, Murry Highlands P.C., Tri-State Region
Hadley Warner, C-3, Charlotte P.C., Western New England Region
* also received the Trish Gilbert Young Rider Award for the highest-placed Pony Clubber in Young Riders competition.
50-Year Club Award Recipients
Fresno P.C., Middle California Region
Groton P.C., Central New England Region
Long Run P.C., Midsouth Region
Middleburg-Orange County P.C., Virginia Region
25-Year Club Award Recipients
Bay Leaf P.C., Sunshine Region
Bitterroot P.C., Big Sky Region
Blackhawk P.C., Lakeshore Region
Bristol Hills P.C., Western New York Region
Chippewa Valley P.C., Great Lakes Region
Five Valleys P.C., Big Sky Region
Glenmore Hunt P.C., Old Dominion Region
Middle Marin Hunt P.C., Sierra Pacific Region
Mountain Valley P.C., Rocky Mountain Region
Poway Valley P.C., Southern California Region
Sea Fox P.C., Sunshine Region
Snake River Foxhounds P.C., Inter-mountain Region
Stillwater P.C., Midsouth Region
2007 USPC Nation Youth Congress Delegates
Laura Ambrosiano–Southwest Region
Ashley Anderson–White Mountain Region
Lynn Bammel–Cimarron Region
Mare Bayless–Midwest Region
Andrea Benton–Deep South Region
Marlene Birr–Lake Shore Region
Kaile Blaze–New York/Upper Connecticut Region
Sally Boyd–Northern Lakes Region
Corrin Carberry–New Jersey Region
Kimberly DeLisi–Virginia Region
Rachael Fisk–Northwest Region
Jessica Ganske–Capital Region
Emily Hairfield–Old Dominion Region
Brittanie Hardy–Virginia Region
Lisa Hellmer–Central New England Region
Sara Kline–Sunshine Region
Lillian Kuehl–Oregon Region
Helen Laffitte–Carolina Region
Stephanie LeCours–Central New England Region
Amy Lee–South Region
Robin Lloyd–Big Sky Region
Sarah Mack–Midsouth Region
Hannelore McElheny–Southeastern New England Region
Brittany Meyer–North Central Prairie Region
Larissa Moyer–Intermountain Region
Elissa Nagy–New Jersey Region
Melisa Panagakos–Southwest Region
Jocelyn Parenteau–Oregon Region
Allison Peck–Middle California Region
Michelle Restivo–Camino Real Region
Catarina Ruksznis–Northeast Region
Diana Sadler–Midwest Region
Emily Spiller–Middle California Region
Nikki Surrusco–South Region
Mara Trudgen–Great Lakes Region
Hannah Weems–Sierra Pacific Region
Rebecca Willner–Sunshine Region
Carolyn Wright–Rio Grande Region