The Trustees have paid due regard to the Charity Commission guidance on public benefit when reviewing the aims and activities of The Pony Club.
The Pony Club is a voluntary youth organisation which is open to all young people under the age of 25 throughout the United Kingdom. The aims of The Pony Club are:
- To encourage young people to ride and to learn to enjoy all kinds of sport connected with ponies and riding.
- To give instruction in riding and horsemastership and to educate Members to look after and to take proper care of animals.
- To promote the highest ideals of sportsmanship, citizenship and loyalty to create strength of character and self-discipline.
The Pony Club promotes the education of young people through the provision of instruction and examination in riding, horse care and animal welfare. At camps and rallies children are taught best practice in a fun and safe environment.
Competitions are held at Branches and Centres, and the National Championships allow Members to compete at the highest level. Tests and competitions help young people to develop potential and encourage them to strive for the highest standards of equestrian achievement. Many former Members go on to compete at international competitions which helps to raise the international sporting profile of the nation.
In determining the fees and charges for membership, the Trustees' priority is to set these at a level so that membership of the charity is accessible to the widest possible section of the public. Traditionally, Pony Club Members had to have their own ponies, but the charity has established Pony Club Centres, which offer membership to children who do not have their own ponies.
An additional focus is to raise public awareness of the charity across as wide a spectrum as possible, and to that end the Trustees are looking at increased advertising and the use of social networking sites (subject to child protection considerations), to reach children who may not yet be aware of the charity and its work. The Pony Club website is free to all and aims to educate all young people interested in riding and animal welfare. The Trustees are delighted to report the considerable success of the charity's free e-learning initiative launched in December 2010, 'PonyPrep'. This provides a fun way for children to learn about proper horse care, riding and animal welfare through the creation of virtual stables and ownership of a virtual pony. It is estimated that in the course of its first year, PonyPrep will have delivered 16000 hours of free education to the general public who are not Members of The Pony Club.
The Trustees are currently working with primary schools to introduce a syllabus of countryside and equestrian issues culminating in the award of Achievement Badges, which form part of The Pony Club's qualification system.
The physical training offered by horse-riding brings considerable health advantages associated with rigorous exercise. Training is offered to Members and volunteers in Road Safety, First Aid and Health and Safety. They are also taught how to assess risks through practical instruction and educational DVDs. This encourages young people to ride safely and helps to reduce accidents and injuries
The Pony Club publishes the Manual of Horsemanship, which is widely regarded as the most reliable and informative book in this area, and is distributed worldwide. The charity aims to educate everyone about riding and animal welfare, especially health and safety aspects, through its various publications, DVDs and educational material. Much information is available for free download from www.pcuk.org.
In conjunction with the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and the other British Equestrian Federation (BEF) Member Bodies, the Trustees have recently introduced the Young Equestrian Leaders' Award (YELA), an initiative recognised by Sport England to develop leadership skills amongst young riders. This will build on The Pony Club's well established programme of Young Instructors' Courses, which enable our older Members to become the instructors of the future Some 300 members attend these courses annually. The Pony Club is a committed participant in the national UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC), and a further 150 instructors of all ages are accredited through this scheme each year.
The great strength of The Pony Club is its army of dedicated volunteers, numbering in excess of 10000. It is continually looking at ways that it can refresh itself through real and relevant initiatives, whilst always taking account of the twin pillars of high class instruction and animal welfare, which are central to its ethos.