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What My Pony Club Pin Means to Me

I wore my Pony Club pin today at a recognized horse show. The brass was blue with tarnish from sitting in my “show accessories” box for…ooooh…20 years. The little light blue circle of felt was thick with dirt and horse hair, and I wasn’t confident that the little snap on the back would hold during my ride, but it did. I vowed to clean it up when I got home and wear it more often, because I’m really proud of that pin.



Unless I find a cure for cancer, negotiate the end of World War III, or win the olympics, I don’t think I’ll be more proud of an accomplishment than I am for my passing my A rating on two bowlegged bay mares back in 2004. The pin symbolizes a lot for me; long-term goal setting, travel, independence, grit, confidence, and a network of horse people across the country! I know that if I break down on the highway with a trailer full of horses, I’ll always be able to find aid and shelter with a pony club family close by.


Sadly, Pony Club is not a part of my life anymore (a statement that I never thought I’d say) except for the occasional nutrition lecture for a local or regional club. When I was in graduate school and still working full time, something had to go, and being involved with USPC didn’t make the cut. I had been a graduate A from the Big Sky Region (still the only one) at the age of 20, Youth Congress participant, USPC National Championship Team winner, a Regional Instruction Coordinator, and even a National Examiner for 10 years. The USPC took me to me from my first fox hunt in Washington State and my last one in Pennsylvania. It took me to certifications in Texas, conventions in Boston, and camps in Alaska. It was just a couple years ago that I officially contacted the office to resign. My heart was in the sport for me and not to give back anymore which broke my heart a little. 

One of my very first USPC events ever on Petey the Perfect Pony!

Pony Club is where my nutrition passion was born and where it bloomed. I remember teaching an unmounted lesson in my parent’s basement before I left for college. I plugged in the 12 rules of feeding to the 12 Days of Christmas jingle and it was a hit. My passion for teaching started there. I also remember filling out the feeding equations in the upper level manual and being so victorious at the end. All of those numbers are daily rituals to me now, but I remember how brain crunching it was the first time and empathize with my clients.


The years and years of studying pay off dividends when I’m consulting with horse owners around the country. Sometimes it’s developing a better deworming program for a skinny old horse, or a conditioning plan for an Arabian sport horse that ties up, or discussing one of the hundreds of other management strategies that are tangent to nutrition! With the foundational knowledge developed in the USPC I have the experience of “seeing” how horses are fed and kept in many parts of the country, a mindset that considers all the options, and the confidence to discuss nutrition plans with veterinarians over the phone.


I am lucky to have had the opportunity to develop in the USPC program especially considering my non-horsey parents and growing up in rural Montana. I talk to a surprising number of first time horse owners. Sometimes the newness is their first weanling, or their first import, or their first upper level athlete. I feel their anxiety over health decisions with nothing but supplement advertisements, social media comments, and Google searches for guidance. What a disadvantage to NOT have the pony club learning system available as a foundation! I have leaned on it heavily in all that I do; from my equine nutrition consulting and education, to my conditioning and warmup plans at horse shows. My pony club background is one of my best assets to the job, and this is why I need to wear my pin more!


Did you know it’s not just for kids? Adults are flourishing in the program as well. To learn more about your local or regional Pony Clubs go to www.ponyclub.org. Maybe your not interested in membership, but you can support your local club with book donations, volunteering at their fundraising events, or teaching a topic that you are passionate about.


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