Do I need a horse?

Ownership of a horse or pony is not a prerequisite for membership.

Arrangements for obtaining a suitable mount is the responsibility of the parents. If you do not own a horse, we can introduce you to members and friends who loan and/or lease suitable horses for lessons or other programs. You will pay the horse owner directly for any loan or lease fees.

Stallions and mares with a foal at their side are unsuitable mounts for Wilton Pony Club activities. Horses and ponies must be at least five years of age for USPC activities (see USPC Policy 0135 for complete information).

How is Pony Club different from traditional lesson programs?

Members have the opportunity to learn about horses and their care through the Pony Club formal instructional program.

Although Pony Club emphasizes instruction over competition, members do compete with one another at club, regional and national rallies. The term “rally” is used because Pony Club competitions are not merely competitive; they’re educational, too. Many Pony Club members do compete (and take supplemental riding lessons) outside Pony Club.

At Pony Club rallies, there is very little help from parents. Teammates help each other (with qualified adults nearby). An important part of each rally is horse care, which is judged and is highly competitive. The bottom line is that Pony Club members learn to ride and care for their mounts safely and well; in addition, they become thinking, responsible people… and have fun.

How do lessons work?

Wilton Pony Club holds weekly lessons in Spring (March – June) and Fall (September – November). Lessons are required for our younger members (“D” Level).

Pony Club instructors are trained in the standards and ratings required of Pony Clubbers.

Members arrange for the use of their own mount. If you do not own a horse, we can introduce you to members and friends who loan and/or lease suitable horses for lessons or other programs.

Our Lesson coordinator schedules the lessons based on skill level and your horse’s schedule. If a member is assigned to an individual lesson, they will ride for 30 minutes. If assigned with one other member, they will ride for 45 minutes. If assigned with two other members, they will ride for one hour.

Parents (or adult guardian) must be on site for the duration of the lesson. Members must allow time to tack up their horse and be in the ring five minutes prior to their scheduled lesson time. After their lesson, members will untack their horse.

Members pay a flat rate of $40 per lesson for instruction (as of 2020). If Member does not own a horse, Member will pay the horse owner directly for any loan or lease fees (on a per-lesson or seasonal basis).

Are other activities offered?

Besides the regular instruction program, Wilton Pony Club offers many other activities for our members. These are part practice, part instructional – and all fun!

Check out our Programs page for a taste of what Wilton Pony Club offers.

What will my child learn?

Through riding instruction - to ride safely, confidently and in control on the flat, over fences and in the open on confident, happy horses and ponies

Through fun-filled activities - making friends and sharing a love for horses at camps, trail rides, rallies and in Quizcompetitions and more

Through teamwork - participating in competitive and noncompetitive activities as an important part of a team that depends upon every member

Through important horse care - learning how to give horses and ponies the care, treatment and training that will make them healthy, happy friends and partners

Through the teaching of others - sharing knowledge and experience gained asa Pony Club member with younger and less experienced Pony Club members

Through exciting horse sports - learning about and competing in Eventing, Dressage, Mounted Games, Polocrosse, Show Jumping, Tetrathlon and other activities, depending on the local club

Through advancement - gaining in self-esteem and proficiency while advancing through multiple rating levels that Pony Club members may achieve.

Our mission that Pony Club members develop sound moral judgment, leadership skills, confidence, unselfishness, a sense of responsibility, sportsmanship, discipline – attributes for a lifetime – while becoming proficient young horsewoman and horsemen.

How much time does Pony Club require?

Each local Pony Club is run by a volunteer District Commissioner (DC) and other elected officers. Clubs involve entire families – as members and as volunteers.

Indeed, Pony Club is a shining example of volunteerism at its best. As a USPC-parent, you join more than 3,000 volunteers working at the club, regional and national level.

Parents are strongly encouraged to attend every club meeting as well as every event that their child participates in. They often volunteer their time to fill in gaps, such as helping to build and set up jumps at a rally, and operating food concessions.

Pony Club involves a substantial time commitment, but spending time helping your child (and other children) learn and grow is an excellent investment in the future!

What about safety?

A concern for safety is the foundation of USPC. Pony Club was the first equine organization to require its members to wear safety helmets. Every aspect of the organization emphasizes safety.

Volunteers, parents, staff – and our Pony Club youth themselves – make safety a priority.

The USPC Safety Committee is charged with promoting and overseeing safe practices for riding and working with horses. In addition, members of the Safety Committee educate both children and their parents in accident prevention. The Committee originated a long-term study of accidents in equestrian activities. For parents, all of this means that a group of dedicated, nationally-known safety experts approve USPC programs and activities before they are put into practice. Selections from several USPC Policies concerning safety are listed below.

Safety Considerations for Riders

  • When mounted (except when vaulting, where no helmet is worn and polo, when a different safety helmet requirement is in place), all Pony Club members must wear securely fastened helmets which meet current ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) Standard #Fl163-88.

  • The helmet must have a seal bearing the letters SEI (Safety Equipment Institute), which will verify the testing.

  • The helmet must be property fitted.

  • Pony Club recommends the use of safety vests.

  • While riding, a conventional type of riding footwear with a heel, such as leather or rubber riding boots, jodhpur boots, or the equivalent, is required. ‘Waffle’ type soles are not allowed.

  • For unmounted Pony Club activities, acceptable footwear is a boot (such as paddock boots) that is securely fastened, entirely closed, covers the ankle and is thick-soled and in good condition. Canvas or cloth shoes of any kind are not allowed.

  • Specific activity rulebooks have dress requirements for USPC competitions.

Safety Considerations for Instructors

  • Pony Club instructors must be mature and knowledgeable.

  • Pony Club instructors must have a good understanding of horse and rider psychology.

  • Pony Club instructors must have the ability to react calmly and assume responsibility in resolving any problem.

  • Pony Club instructors must endorse and reinforce USPC safety requirements.

  • Pony Club instructors must be aware of changes in rider and/or equine performance that might be reflective of changes in attitude and/or health of both horse and rider.

Safety Considerations for Mounts

  • Mounts should be temperamentally suited for the level of the rider.

  • Mounts should be healthy.

  • Mounts should be well cared for.

  • Mounts should be serviceably sound. Book

  • Stallions and mares with a foal at their side are considered unsuitable mounts for Pony Club activities.

  • Horses and ponies must be at least five (5) years of age for USPC activities. (See USPC Policy 0135 for complete information.) Please note: the first year is considered to be January 1 following the date of foaling.

Safety Considerations for Trailering

An understanding of travel safety is important for parents and children.

  • Knowledge of loading and trailering and the ability to react to unusual circumstances when away from home, are of the highest importance.

Safety Considerations for Pony Club Mounted Meetings

  • Flat ground for riding

  • An enclosed area for riding

  • Good footing for riding

  • Good drainage

  • Solid jumping equipment

  • Access to a telephone

  • First aid equipment

  • Adequate off-street parking

  • Mowed open space, preferably a large, fenced area (at least several acres) desirable

Additional safety information is available in USPC Policies, Handbooks and Rulebooks for each discipline, through the Safety Committee and the National Office. Also, please feel free to speak with your District Commissioner and/or Regional Supervisor if you have questions or need additional information.

Where do i fit in?

As a parent, even if you are not a horseperson, you can help your local club. You might consider:

  • Painting and setting up stadium jumps

  • Providing food and beverages at meetings or competitions

  • Providing transportation for field trips

  • Providing pony/horse trailering to a rally

  • Assisting with fund raising projects

  • Publishing the Club Newsletter

  • Chaperoning a team

  • Judging cross-country fence jumpsat an Eventing rally

  • Building cross-country fences

  • Becoming a club officer

  • Speaking at an unmounted club meeting

  • Becoming a local club “sponsor”*

You can study riding and horse care with your child as he or she progresses through the levels of proficiency.

Some families plan their family vacations around Pony Club activities such as the USPC Festival, held every three years at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Annual Championships competition take place in the summer.

What does Pony Club really cost?

For most members, the biggest expense is the fees for leasing or using a horse for lessons and events. Members coordinate their own leases/arrangements and these fees are paid directly to the horse's owner.

Wilton Pony Club’s fees are outlined on the Fees + Costs page. Generally, a younger member who attends lessons only can expect to pay ~$1200/year for Pony Club Membership, ~20 lessons and our Unmounted Program. This does not include fees to lease or use a horse.

Additional costs might include:

  • Books – Pony Club requires members to read specific books as they progress through the ratings

  • Helmet – Pony Club requires every member to wear an ASTM/SEI certified safety helmet.

  • Boots + Clothing – Riding clothing and equipment, including boots with heels, are necessary, depending upon the different riding disciplines.

  • Grooming Kit – Each member should maintain their own Grooming Kit with brushes and items necessary to care for their horse.