I'd been systematically taking advantage of the Amazon free "Look Inside" feature to scope out the Official Pony Club Manuals. I got through The United States Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship: Basics for Beginners - D Level (Book 1) but was saved from further fact hunting by the fabulous Kelly of RideGroomFeed. She graciously shared her experiences and even wrote a post answering all of the basics that an outsider like me would ask. Seriously, the Pony Club's "FAQ" section needs to take a page from Kelly, or from the ever-informative Wikipedia. (Why is it that a website about another website is more informative than the primary source website??)
For others like me who grew up outside of the Pony Club circle of influence, here are the basics:
- Pony Club started in England in 1928 (aha! turns out it IS an international society! the quaint name belies its multinationalism). Each country that has Pony Club (and there are many) is a different group - there is no international standard.
- Members meet regularly to learn horse riding and care skills. Rallies are members-only gatherings, anything from a riding lesson to a day-long clinic on specific aspects of horse care to a horse show.
- There are various levels of ratings that members can achieve, differing by country. To advance to each level, there are a series of tests/quizzes. At all levels except the very top, the tests are on BOTH horsemanship/care and riding skills. You have to pass both sections to advance a level.
- "Pony" refers to any member's mount (a horse of any size). Huh.
Well, from what I can tell, most Pony Club graduates really appreciated their experience. Now that all my basic questions have been answered, I guess they can technically be de-commissioned from "secret society" status. But still...one day there may be a dark, mysterious adventure movie about the Pony Club. Secrets of The Saddle has a nice ring to it...