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Belfast Proves Brilliant for The Pony Club’s Annual Conference

The Pony Club’s Annual Conference was held across the water on March 7th at Belfast’s Waterfront and, alongside a full and varied line up, enjoyed a visit from HRH The Princess Royal, patron of The Pony Club.

The day opened with Eric Smiley FBHS, a member of the Pony Club Training Committee, speaking about the important role of The Pony Club in helping young riders to create a bond with their mount, giving them a solid starting point which allows them to progress successfully into competitive riding. As William Blane FBHS, Chairman of Pony Club Training, took the stage to speak on training principles for 2012, the audience were delighted to find out that HRH The Princess Royal had joined the Conference.

Following on from William Blane, HRH The Princess Royal went on to enjoy a talk from East Down Branch Members, Luke Kilmacki and Luke McMullan. Speaking on what The Pony Club had done for them during their successful Pony Club Tetrathlon careers, both boys gave the audience an insight into the benefits of training they received through The Pony Club, the friendships they have built along the way and how their lessons learned have stood them in good stead for life as they enter the world of work. 

With London 2012 uppermost in people’s minds Andrew Finding, CEO of the British Equestrian Federation, spoke about The Pony Clubs immense contribution to equestrian sport. Relaying some compelling facts, Andrew pinpointed many of the current and past achievers in equestrian sport who credit The Pony Club with giving them the very best start in their equestrian careers.

HRH The Princess Royal took to the stage shortly before her departure to address delegates. Speaking on the importance of recognising volunteers, HRH The Princess Royal commented on how the two key themes of recognising and rewarding volunteers will be paramount to the ongoing success of The Pony Club, as the largest equestrian youth organisation.  HRH also presented the Secretary of the Year Award to Mrs Doreen Carman, who has held the position of Secretary to the Lancaster and District Branch for over 30 years!

Local equestrian Diane Harron-Eakin treated the audience to a light hearted look into the world of horse breeding, including her successes in breeding everything from International show jumpers to Kerry bog ponies!

Following lunch, the audience then settled in to enjoy a truly inspirational talk from Dr Janet Gray MBE. Janet’s talk, titled ‘Blind Ambition’, gave the delegates a real feel for the incredible highs, as well as many of the lows, throughout both Janet’s personal life and her medal winning water skiing career.

As always, question time gave an opportunity for delegates to ask questions and suggest ideas that they feel may help The Pony Club to progress forward.  In her closing address Cherry Michell thanked the city of Belfast, and representatives from The Pony Club’s area 17, for such a welcoming visit before asking delegates to blow their Pony Club trumpets in 2012, and let as many people as possible know what The Pony Club has and continues to achieve.

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