The Wakefield Valley Pony Club is looking for a few good kids.
"We have 12 members now who all participate in the club's activities, and I think the optimum for us would be about 20 kids at various levels of the Pony Club ratings," says Karen Baker of Westminster, district commissioner of Wakefield Valley. "If you have too many more than that, then the kids have to qualify to go to the regional rallies. This way, everyone gets to go."
Former District Commissioner Sarah Levin has made recruiting posters and distributed them to tack shops in an effort to inform young riders about this special organization. Wakefield Valley Pony club wasformed in 1986 by Jim Miller and Beth Stambaugh as part of the national Pony Club organization.
Wakefield Valley is able to offer benefits to its members that are unheard-of in other clubs, but, as Bakerpoints out, Pony Club is not for the faint of heart.
"The Pony Club way demands a lot of the kids. They have to be really dedicated and prepared to do a lot of hard work," Baker explains. "And it has to be a family affair, because we count on the participation of the parents every step of the way from getting kids to lessons and rallies todoing the fund raising."
Thanks to the successful fund-raising efforts of the kids and their parents, the Wakefield Valley Pony Club gives its members free lessons and pays their way to the regional rallies.
"We do lots of food stands at various horse events, hold car washes and sell submarine sandwiches," says Baker, who was Wakefield Valley's treasurer for several years before becoming district commissioner.
Baker became involved in Pony Club in 1987 when her daughter, Krissy Kirk, boarded her pony at a Pony Club member's barn.
"Myfriend Tiffany Hill was already a member, and I saw how much fun shealways had at Pony Club, so I wanted to see what it was like," Kirk says. "I had read about eventing, and I'd seen show jumping on television, but I never thought I would be doing those things. Pony Club does it all, and now it's a blast doing those things on a regular basisand being on the teams at the rallies."
Krissy says being a member of Pony Club has given her a closer relationship with her horse, Mr. Shadowberry.
"You spend a lot of time with your horse and reallyget to know him. At the rallies you really get to know the people, too."
She adds that Pony Club is "more fun than I ever thought it would be," but also admits that there is a lot of "hard, dirty work --like getting your tack clean 'the Pony Club way.' "
Besides having a will to work hard and a willing and available parent, there are afew other things a prospective Pony Clubber needs. Dues are $52 per year, and a horse or pony is a must, as is owning or having access toa horse trailer and tow vehicle to get to lessons and rallies.
"If someone is interested in joining Pony Club, we can usually help find a pony to lease," Baker says. "And sometimes, it is possible to car-pool to lessons and rallies."
In addition to the lessons and rallies, Wakefield Valley offers clinics and programs at its monthly meetings.
"We currently offer two lessons a month for the kids and clinics on a regular basis," she says. "We have meetings on the first Tuesday of every month."
"In February we'll go over our first-aid kits, in March we'll start preparing for the first rally, which will bea 'knowdown' (sort of a horse-knowledge Jeopardy), and in April we'll start mounted lessons at the meetings."
If you are interested inPony Club -- or if you know a youngster who might be interested -- call Baker at 876-1657.
Kevin Bowie presided at Saturday's rating session for the Wakefield Valley Pony Club at Carolyn Krome's Farm.
Krissy Kirk and Mr. Shadowberry graduated from a C1 rating to aC2 and Lauren Levin and Mick went from D3 level to C1.
Reportedlythe hardest maneuver of the day was going into canter from a walk. The hardest question was explaining the procedure for longeing a horse.