Wayne-DuPage Hunt Pony Club


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Articles of Interest:

Mon Mar 16, 2015 4:54 am (PDT) . Posted by:

"Clair Thunes" cthunes1

Hi everyone,

I got to wear a new Pony Club hat yesterday and I thought I would share my
experience with you all on the off chance that the perspective is useful to
some of you as we enter rally season. I wrote this at 11pm last night as a
sort of reflection of the day.

My hats off to all of you who are Pony Club parents which I realize is most
of you.

Happy rally season,
RS Sierra Pacific


I have been involved with Pony Club for a really long time, 30 years in
fact. I’ve worn a lot of hats; graduate B, RIC, HMO, DC and currently RS,
but until yesterday I had never been a Pony Club parent. Yesterday was our
regional EBTH rally and my 6.5 year old daughter wanted to come and hang
out just like she did last year. She’s been riding for a couple of years
and has been dragged to a good number of Pony Club events so I suggested
that we could take out the non-member insurance and she could compete,
something she excitedly agreed to and which she followed-up with by saying
“by-the-way, I would like to join Pony Club.” “Let’s see how EBTH goes” I

I’ve mentored my share of new Pony Club parents prior to rally season and
I’ve seen what happens when you prepare at the 11th hour so we had our act
together. I believe that kids have a much better rally experience when they
go prepared knowing what to expect. So she started memorizing her dressage
test 2 weeks before with many runs through on the living room rug. I went
through the required equipment with her and she labelled all her brushes
and made herself a stall card. We studied for the written test, cleaned
tack together after her lesson the week before and I packed the car 48
hours before the rally. She had done her homework and was ready!

Rally day arrived and we woke up way earlier than normal and were at the
rally in time to help set-up. My daughter was greeted by her team, a
cheerful group of kids from Deer Creek Pony Club based at the barn where
she rides. They swooped her up and helped her arrange her things and that
was it. Other than a couple of passing hugs she had no use for me all day.
Having not been sure if she was quite mature enough to make it through the
day without being in her normal role of Mummy’s helper I was thrilled to be

Other big questions I had were would she remember how to introduce herself
at her turnout inspection? What about her dressage test and jump course?
She has only ever competed on her lesson pony on the lead line so hasn’t
really had to memorize a course before. How would she do in written test
which she had diligently studied for? Would she be a good sport?

I was a very proud Mummy when she flawlessly completed her dressage
including her well-rehearsed extra big free walk steps. She also found her
way around stadium. Missing only 2 questions in the written test was a
success and she was bright and cheerful all day. With her team coming in 4th
out of 12 as a nice bonus this day was clearly a triumph.

You may be as surprised as I was then when on the way home she started to
cry. It was one of those fake cries the kind where something clearly isn’t
right but you aren’t actually moved to tears. She’s tired I thought, it’s
been a long day and it was unseasonably hot. After some prodding she
explained that she was upset because she hadn’t understood the multiple
choice on the written test and had got 2 wrong and that there hadn’t been
an X on the ground in dressage because the dressage court was the black top
in the school playground. She started looking for things that had gone
wrong. There was no consoling her she continued to cry and get increasingly
mad at my efforts to comfort her. I kept telling her she had done great and
after 30 minutes of this I was starting to feel pretty annoyed because
really it was quite silly.

It was then that it hit me. I’d heard parents talk about this post rally
experience before. When I was a DC I had parents tell me “Oh we aren’t
going to rally again, after all that effort getting ready the HM judges
took off points for XYZ. My daughter said she felt terrible and she was
miserable. She had nothing good to say.” Or “Rallies are just too long of a
day everyone gets hot and tired and by the time we go home the kids are in
tears and it’s just too demanding and stressful.”

Sitting in the driver’s seat I reminded myself that I’ve been here myself.
I’ve been that Pony Clubber in tears and I’ve reaped the invaluable life
lessons from such experiences. So I spoke up “it sounds as though you don’t
think you did very well today” I stated. At which point my daughter broke
in to full on sobs “yes I wanted to get no points off, I wanted to get my
team points, not loose points.”

After arriving home and giving her a cuddle sitting in the car in the
driveway we walked up the path to the front door. “I just really wanted to
help my team” she sniffled. I turned and looked at her and replied “you
know sweetheart you did help your team. You helped your team by being there
so that they could be a 4 rider team. Because of you, your team had the
option of a drop score.” I went on to explain what that meant and suddenly
the sun started to peak out from behind the dark cloud. It registered that
she had made a difference to her team which was apparently important to
her. A surprise to me given this kid has never been on any kind of team

We went in the house, got a snack and watched a bit of Mary Poppins, that
woman really is a miracle nanny she can fix a child even through the TV! I
thought about my experience and what I had heard from past parents who were
not enthralled with their kids rally experience, threatening to never rally
again, something that sadly for some had not been an idle threat.

I say sadly because I think they missed the point. I had the luxury of
being in the barns all day so I got to see just how much fun she had really
had. I may have been given the woeful tales of what went wrong but I
watched her skipping around with her team, the big smiles, and the few
times I had asked her how the day was going during the competition and
whether she was having fun the answer had been a big yes. For the average
parent who never goes behind the scenes their reality of the day is only
what they hear at the end of it and sometimes is sounds awful. Yes my
daughter was tired and overwhelmed from an experience unlike anything she
had ever done before. But she had held her own. She had acted independently
without me all day. Accomplished feats that she had never tried before and
apparently grasped the concept that being on a team means that you try you
best for everyone not just yourself. These are all lessons that are worth
30 minutes of tears in the car on the way home and a sullen kid for most of
the evening.

This morning after a good nights sleep I asked her “was it fun though
yesterday?” and she looked at me and said “yes”, “would you like to do it
again sometime?” and her eyes lit up and she looked at me and smiled. So we
won’t be avoiding rallies in the future in fact later this year we will
likely join Pony Club so that we can rally some more.