Monday, August 31, 2015

Building Community, One Pony Clubber At a Time

This past weekend was the Old Dominion Pony Club Region's eventing rally. I'm proud to say that the pony club I run, Holston, sent two full teams. I'm even prouder to say that all ten competitors did very well.

I don't just mean in the riding part, though we had some fine success there. I don't even mean in Horse Management, an important component of all pony club competitions, even though the two Holston teams finished first and second, with only one point separating them.

I mean in the teamwork. I mean in community.

Ten years from now it will not matter what color ribbon any of these children won. It will not matter what their dressage score was. It will not matter whether or not they forgot their required body sponge or didn't label their hay, or remembered to wear their pony club pin at all times.

It will matter if they've grown into competent, responsible adults. It will matter if they've learned courage, resilience, empathy, compassion. It will matter if they've learned to treat their horses as partners, not machines; it will matter if they stand up for themselves and for each other.

And so my proudest moments were the quietest ones. Seeing oldest competitor on our team walking the youngest, on her pony, up to the dressage arena. Watching the youngest carefully sweep the aisle. The last minute flurry over each member headed to formal inspections. The attention every horse received.

When one of our members got bucked off her horse and had to take a trip to the emergency room (thankfully, she's fine): a club member grabbed her horse and got it out of the ring while paramedics attended the rider. Another member took the horse back to its stall, untacked and cared for it. Another took charge of the rider's helmet, safety vest, and boots. Different team members cleaned her tack and boots, not because those items had to be cleaned--they didn't--but just so she would know their concern.

Horses are a passion. Pony Club is a community I'm very grateful for.