As the first Sunday in February looms closer, there are lots of riders and ponies alike, filling with anticipation for the first Pony Club Rally Day of the year!
Pony Club in Australia has over 800 clubs and 40,000 members- making it the largest equestrian organisation in the country. If you are one of the 1000’s of members getting ready for your first rally day, have no fear, because in today’s blog post we talk about everything you need to know and have ready for your very first Pony Club Day!
What should I expect?
The first rally day back for the year is usually a big one! Every club is a bit different, but some common things you can expect is
A very thorough gear check
- All rider and horse equipment will be checked for compliance with the State Gear Check Rules, general fit, and condition. This will include
- Helmet: is of Australian Standards and is correctly fitting
- Riding Boots: Have a smooth rubber sole designed for riding and have a heel
- Stirrups: That the rider has clearance around the boot (usually a generous finger width on both sides) when the foot is in the stirrup
- Strapping: all strapping is free from cracks, tears or stitching damage that would be unfit for use.
- Bit: That it is approved for Pony Club and is correctly sized.
- Jewellery: Small stud earrings only are acceptable, bracelets, necklaces ect are to be removed
- Correct fitting: all gear will be checked that it has been properly fitted
New rider/horse assessments
- Often performed by the Senior or Chief Instructor, all new riders and horses will likely undergo a quick riding assessment in order to be correctly graded into their riding group. This is not at all a judgement of how you and your horse go together, it is largely safety and instructional based so that riders of similar levels are grouped together to receive their tailored instruction.
To be asked to help
- Pony Clubs operate wholly on the efforts of volunteers. This is everyone through to members helping set up or pack up on Rally Days, to the President and Instructors of the club. As a parent or guardian, everyone is there to watch their riders and horses have fun- but don’t forget that the fun can’t happen without those people who set up/run the activities! Get involved and make a great first impression- it will be greatly appreciated!
What should I take with me?
- Rider Attire; Helmet, Uniform, Jodphurs, Boots, Safety Vest
- Horse Tack; Saddle, Saddlecloth, Bridle, Boots, Rug, Fly Veil
- Grooming Kit; Brushes, Hoof Pick, Comb, Fly Spray, Scrapper, Hoof Oil
- Feed Supplies; Instead of eating grass all day, your horse will be exercising! Be sure to pack lots of roughage to provide your horse with during the breaks. Don’t forget any buckets, bins or hay bags you may require to feed/water your horse too!
- First Aid Kit; Make sure your horse and human first aid kits are stocked, and items are in date. Although clubs are required to have this all available, your own kit is very handy to have in the float in case of an emergency.
- Cash; Many clubs will run canteens as part of their ongoing fundraising. As much as society has become cashless, don’t rely on the chance that you can tap your phone to pay for your lunch! You may also find cash is the preferred payment for uniforms and membership too.
Handy Tips and Tricks
- Pack as much as you can the day before! Make your morning run as smoothly as possible by gathering all your gear and equipment the day before. Check that all your gear is correctly fitting and working- if you are worried about the condition of something, at least you have the day to head to the local saddlery!
- Plan your travel. Check what time your grounds will be opened and aim to get there not long after. First rally day turnouts can be the biggest of the year, and may put your parking skills to the test the later you arrive! Reduce any nerves by giving yourself plenty of time to arrive, set up and settle in.
- Bring important documents. For members or horses whose membership registration may not be fully submitted, it is handy to have documents like birth certificates and horse registration to refer to.
- If you are a returning member and have a second-hand uniform to sell- bring it with you! New members will be after uniforms, so this is a great chance to pass on those shirts that have been outgrown.
- Download our Horse Care at Competitions (also relevant for Rally Days!) Flyer HERE
Written by Sharne H.