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The Annual Conference 2013

The Pony Club’s Annual Conference was held on March 6th at its bi-annual venue of Cheltenham Racecourse and welcomed over 500 delegates to it’s a jam-packed line up, expertly compèred by equestrian commentator Mike Tucker.

As always training initiatives for the year were a key topic and Pony Club Training Chairman, William Blane FBHS, launched the new Pony Club ‘Ambassadors Scheme’, which aims to recognise and reward Members who take on extra volunteering responsibilities, who help other Members, and who really embody The Pony Club ethos.

Volunteering continued as a hot topic for the day, and Matthew Cobble spoke about the success of the BEF initiative in the Young Equestrian Leaders Award (YELA). Matthew was joined on stage by one of YELA’s most successful candidates, Katie Midgeley who commented that “some people think they will not have the time or the skills to volunteer but it’s worth making time.  You will learn something, improve your skills and gain further skills, which can only improve your chances of success in the future”.

Continuing on the theme of volunteering, and with London 2012 still fresh in the minds of many, delegates were treated to an insight from Peter Richards and Melanie Stewart-Smith, who were selected via The Pony Club to be Young Games Makers for the Eventing cross country day at Greenwich; this was followed up with some fantastic memories of the equestrian events from Mike Tucker, from a commentator’s perspective.

Pony Club Endurance has been slowly growing as a discipline since it was introduced in 2009, and FEI Endurance rider Rachael Farley-Claridge gave delegates a flavour of her own personal Pony Club journey, Endurance as a sport, and how Branches and Centres can encourage their Members to try Endurance within The Pony Club.

Following lunch, Irene Sutton from the West Lancashire County Branch was announced as Secretary of the Year, and received her award from current Pony Club President Lady Lloyd Webber. Everyone was then able to sit back and enjoy a humorous, and lively, speaking slot from well known figure in racing and sport Brough Scott MBE, before an opportunity for delegates to address council members and discipline chairman on Pony Club areas they feel could be improved or adapted.

Addressing the conference the Chairman of The Pony Club, Cherry Michell,  stated that this would be her final Annual Conference as Chairman, commenting “I will have been Chairman of The Pony Club for six years at the end of 2013 and feel that I must stand down to allow someone else to take on this amazing role”. Cherry went on to inform delegates that despite stepping down her wish is to “leave The Pony Club in the best possible health and fit for the 21st Century” and to this end she has asked the Board of Trustee’s and the Equestrian Council to consider performing a strategic review of the organisation. 

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