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NER United States Pony Club Show Jump Rally - July 20, 2019

Ellie and I had SO MUCH FUN at our first Pony Club jump rally this year.  We drove up to Clay Brook Farms, where we had our D-1/D-2 rating, in order to compete for the day on July 20.  This happened to be one of the hottest days of summer, so the organizers modified the schedule a bit.  Instead of doing two rounds in the morning and one in the afternoon, we all did just two rounds (with a ten-minute break in between) all in the morning, so we were done and headed out just after lunch.  
Everything ran so smoothly despite the condensed format.  We were able to do our formal inspections right before we mounted up, and we were all encouraged to limit our warm up time.  We were not allowed to wear jackets, and there was a TON of horse water and ice cold human water available at numerous stations around the field.
I was competing with Epona Pony Club, but I was again put on a Horsemaster team with two other adults from Foxcroft Pony Club, Angie and Beth, the two riders I competed with at the…

Our First Pony Club Rating!

As I wrote about earlier, I joined a second, more active pony club this year and I am glad I did!  Through Epona PC, I was able to test for my D-1 and D-2 rating back on July 13.  To their credit, Atlantic PC did try scheduling a rating but nothing actually panned out.

Basically, without boring you all with how Pony Club works, there are two levels of certifications (ratings): local level is D-1, D-2, D-3, C-1, and C-2 in that order, while the national level is C-3, B, and A.  There are also "horse management" national ratings, which are non-riding.

local levels

national levels

I chose to follow the Eventing track, which used to be the only option, but now Pony Club offers several different disciplines.  D-1 and D-2 are the only ratings you can do at once, which makes sense since D-1 is literally the easiest level ever designed for six-year-olds.  ;-)

Nothing I had to discuss or show under saddle for the D-2 certification was difficult for me personally.  The horse management questions were basic, the jumps were all 18" or under, and I had to show walk, trot, canter, but was allowed to trot the fences.  And in the open over the XC jumps, we were not allowed to exceed 240 mpm, which is a pretty darn slow trot haha.  Here are the specific standards of proficiency if anyone is interested.  I didn't study per se, but I did look over the standards of proficiency and the test sheets to be sure I was familiar with what I would be asked.  I don't like surprises!  

The examiner happened to be the DC of the club I was part of back at our first ever rally in May, so it was nice to feel comfortable with someone I had already met.  We did the first part of the testing at my trailer, where she asked me all the horsemanship questions and watched me groom and tack up.  We headed for the arena for the "flat" portion of my testing, which was basically ten minutes of me showing I knew how to mount up safely and how to walk/trot/canter and turn, showing awareness of diagonals and leads.  

Then it was back to the trailer to change for the jumping portion.  I had four other young riders from the club join me, three who were also taking their D-2 jumping and one who was doing her D-3.  We also had a member who was taking her (unmounted) C-1 horse management rating.  The jumping for my rating was pretty basic 18" jumps.  We started with a simple gymnastic set up as trot poles and worked up to a one stride crossrail to vertical.  After we had all finished that, we did a short course one at a time. 
warming up during the show jump portion of the rating
To me, the best part of these ratings is it is not like a horse show, where one mistake means you don't pass.  The point is to show how you are able to deal with the mistakes.  So let's say my horse refused a jump (she didn't but let's pretend).  That doesn't automatically mean I fail my rating.  I need to recircle and show how I am able to properly correct the error.  Once you finish the course, you have to chat with the examiner to tell her what you feel you did the best and what you could improve on.  Then you choose one jump (or a related distance/combination of two) and rejump it, applying the techniques you told the examiner you needed to improve.  It is great to value true horsemanship and the fact you are training your horse, not to mention the fact that you and the horse are not machines who do everything perfectly the first time.  

Ellie jumped the small course just fine, though we did have a chip at the second to last fence.  I like to throw my body forward sometimes, apparently in an effort to help her jump (who knows hahaha???) and it makes her throw in the extra stride because, well, her neck is short and I am totally interfering with her balance.  *sigh*  So we took that one vertical again and because I remembered to sit up, we jumped it much better the second time.

Then it was off to the "riding in the open" section, where we all had to jump at least three XC fences.  There were four jumps set up, one being an optional fence, but I took it, as it was a culvert pipe painted white, so I wanted to give Ellie a chance to jump it.  She was perfect, except I had to work on really keeping her at a trot (remember, as a D-2 candidate, I was not allowed to exceed 240 mpm), but she listened and we did just fine.  She has gotten used to cantering fences, so it wasn't like she was running away with me, just more as though she was confused to be brought back to a trot after each fence.  
after we completed our XC jumping portion
We all passed our ratings!  Yay!!  So now I am officially a D-2 pony clubber whoot whoot!!
everything was met the standard or exceeded!

Comments

  1. this is so cool - congrats! i've always kinda been sorry to not have done pony club as a kid but... hey, maybe there's still time after all!

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    1. Haha right? This is pretty much a childhood dream come true!

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  2. I was the non biased person during a PC rating at the B and A level last year. It was really neat to see how the ratings work. Did you have to switch horses at any point? At that level they all did the jumping portion then had to switch rides with the others in the rating and do it again. That would be nerve wracking!

    Congrats on the ratings!!!!

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    1. Yes, you definitely have to switch horses at the A level, but I am not 100% sure on other levels. I don't think you do on the local levels. And thank you! It was fun!

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  3. This is really cool. How long do you have to wait to go for the next rating?

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    1. As far as I know there isn't a limit on time. I am planning to do my D-3 rating in the beginning of September. I think the biggest thing as you go up the levels is you need time to study and practice, not to mention there are generally only 1-2 ratings offered a year through most pony clubs. I have the benefit of doing this first rating with Epona and will get to do D-3 with Atlantic.

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  4. This is so interesting! Thank you so much for sharing - and educating!

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    1. You are welcome! It has been a fun journey in PC this year!

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