The Pony Club is the largest equestrian youth organisation in the world. Membership is open to anyone up to the age of 25, and nearly all Britain’s top riders started in the Pony Club. Although founded in the UK, it now has hundreds of branches and centres all around the world, and its training system is internationally recognised.
I’m a very enthusiastic member of the Pony Club!! Alongside rallies, competitions, and activities, the Pony Club offers a range of different achievement badges, tests, and qualifications. The main tests are the Efficiency Tests, which at their highest level are very highly regarded in the equestrian world.
I currently have the C test, and am close to gaining the C+ test. It is my dream to one day achieve the A test, but I’m still a long way from that!!! I’m going to create guides to each of the Pony Club tests to help me towards my goal, and to help any fellow Pony Clubbers out there!
If you’re not a member of the Pony Club, I really recommend it!! You don’t need to have your own horse to join, and it is for everyone of all abilities! If you’re over 25 then you’re probably too old to join as a member, but Pony Club branches are always looking for more volunteers. Whether you want to take the tests or not, they provide a great structure to measure your own progress. Everyone wants to become a better rider, right?
I’ll be updating and adding more articles to the Pony Club Test guides over time, so watch this space…
Easy and simple, the E test is recommended for ages 4+. It encourages riders to be happy around ponies and enjoy learning about them. You need to be able to sit on a pony, hold the reins, walk, halt, steer in walk, and trot on a lead rein.
Some riders skip the E test and start at D, which is recommended for ages 8+. Riders should have a basic understanding of ponies, and be confident riding and handling them. You should be able to mount, dismount, show a correct position, and ride off the lead rein in walk and trot.
The next step up, the D+ test is recommended for ages 10+. Riders should be working towards a balanced seat, independent of the reins, and understand basic day-to-day pony care. You should be able to walk, trot, canter, ride turns and circles, ride without stirrups in walk, and jump a very small fence.
Slightly more serious, the C test is recommended for ages 11+. Riders should be working towards a correct seat, understand what they are doing, and have knowledge of general pony care. You need to be capable of riding safely in a group, independently in an open space, show a balanced light seat, jump several small fences, and show suitable skills for riding out in the country.
Often the highest achieved by Centre members (who don’t own a horse), the C+ test is the border between the easier tests and the more highly regarded tests. It is recommended for ages 13+. Riders should be educated, practical, and capable of riding a well-behaved pony in all Pony Club activities, including hunting. You should be able to ride multiple ponies, discuss their responses and ways of going, leg yield, ride with the reins in one hand, jump showjumps and cross country fences, and understand the scales of training.
A more in depth test where the riding and horse care sections can be taken separately, the B test is recommended for ages 15+. Riders should be effective, understand the reasons for what they are doing, and begin to improve their horse’s way of going. You need to ride multiple horses both for flatwork and jumping, assess and discuss your horse’s way of going, show a progressive build-up of exercises based on your assessment, ride medium trot, rein back, half pirouettes, gallop safely, and jump showjumping and cross country courses of about 90cm.