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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Pony Club Australia names top achievers for the year

ABOVE: The Pony Club of the Year award went to Yandina.

THE 2022 Pony Clubs of Australia awards have been presented and the winners come from all around the country. Isaac Staley, from the Mornington Peninsula Pony Club in Victoria, took the honours for rider 12 years and under.

Isaac and his pony, Myles, have had a great year, and Isaac has also contributed to his club by helping out with working bees and fundraising.

ABOVE: Isaac Staley and Myles.

Isaac represented Mornington Peninsula at the zone games and pairs event, the youngest rider on the team. They placed third in the games and second in the pairs.

He went from completing the games in a trot at zone level to qualifying and competing at state level at a gallop.

More recently he competed at Werribee Pony Club Horse Trials HT where he showed great riding skills, jumping double clear to finish in the top 10.

The award for riders 13-17 years went to Abby Raymond from North Dorrigo Pony Club in NSW.

Abby has loaned members her outgrown horses to encourage new riders to the sport and when at gymkhanas she helps the younger kids present their horses and helps them with advice with the workouts and jump courses.

In 2019 she represented NSW at the PCA Nationals. Abby represented Zone three at the Sydney Royal Show for the team sporting events and both years they placed third. Abby has her sights set on the 2023 NZ Tour and has just completed her C* and B certificates.

ABOVE: Abby Raymond.

Outside of horse riding she is the vice president of her school and a member of the Student Representative Council.

The rider 18-25 years award was presented to Sharne Haskins, of Londonderry Pony Club in NSW.

Sharne has held a 100 per cent rally day (or event representation) attendance since 2008. These days she gives up riding some days to instruct.

She represented NSW for elementary dressage at the 2019 Nationals. By 2022 she and her horse, Oliver, had progressed from a novice to competent elementary/training medium combination and represented NSW at the Equestrian NSW Young Rider Dressage Championships.

Sharne represented Zone 19 at a state level in show riding, mounted games, team sporting and formal gymkhana. Sharne trained both independently and under professional coaching religiously, and all whilst working two jobs and studying full time at university.

ABOVE: Senior winner Sharne Haskins and Oliver.

The Volunteer of the Year was Dianne Ould from Peel Metro Horse and Pony Club in Western Australia.

Dianne has been a long term volunteer coach and educator in WA for several decades and has contributed more broadly to the equestrian sector in WA through the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale Equine Strategy.

An accomplished horsewoman herself, she runs clinics, webinars and assessments for gear checker candidates across WA. The head of the WA gear checking panel, she has been an extraordinary member of the National Gear Committee and willing to share her knowledge with others. Dianne spent more than 20 years developing state rules and has become the national “go-to” person on gear.

The Miss Kay Irving Coach of the Year winner was Jacqui Bladier, of the Mornington Peninsula Pony Club in Victoria.

Jacqui recently wrote a safety and horsemanship handout for her club members to help parents and riders to handle and care for their horses in a safer manner. She teaches positive reinforcement and praise for the horse.

Jacqui has her Level 1 NCAS coaching certificate. She is also helping mentor senior riders through their preliminary NCAS certificates and is always willing to share her knowledge and passion with them.

The Gill Rolton Memorial Alumni Award went to James Meyer of the Goolwa District Pony Club in South Australia.

James completed his veterinary degree in the inaugural class at the University of Adelaide. Spending his formative years at Goolwa District Pony Club, he remains an active member of Pony Club (past coach), FEI, Endurance and Equine Veterinarians Australia.

James grew up on the Fleurieu Peninsula and later ran Fleurieu Equine Practice in SA for five years from 2017 to 2022. He relocated to WA at the beginning of 2022 and now works at Oldbury Equine Clinic.

James frequently provides services for FEI events, such as the Adelaide International Horse Trials, as well as being an accredited Endurance veterinarian. His interests include equine dentistry as well as endocrine and metabolic diseases.

James is a previous pony club president (Goolwa Pony Club). He has officiated at pony club events, he took a pony club team to China in 2018 and has been a source of veterinary advice in SA and now WA. James has run sessions on horse health for coaches and riders and vaccination hubs for pony club members.

ABOVE: Riders from the Phoenix Acres Equine Centre.

The Accredited Riding Centre of the Year award went to the Phoenix Acres Equine Centre in Bundaberg, Queensland.

In the past year it has grown to a membership of 30 junior riders and two senior riders.

In January they held a start up camp to kick start the learning for the year. This proved to be successful because in the rallies that followed, the members knew the routine and basic skills needed to get themselves ready for rally each fortnight.

The centre took 13 of their members to one local gymkhana with great success. Many of them came home with a number of ribbons and achievements. Some of those riders have gone on to compete unofficially within the zone in show jumping and jumping equitation events.

In April, Phoenix Acres held an assessment weekend with Beryl Burkhardt, who signed off six students and awarded seven certificates. Another 25 members will sit their assessments in November.

Finally, the Club of the Year went to Yandina Pony Club in Queensland.

The last 18 months have been tough for all riders and their families during Covid and now floods and consistent rain. This led the club to implement many initiatives to keep the families engaged in activities, increasing membership from 51 in 2015 to 110 this year, including new memberships during the Covid lockdown This makes it the ninth largest club in Queensland.

“This year we implemented three new monthly activities in response to our growing diverse membership,” the club said in its application.

“As a club, we were acutely aware of the effects Covid had, especially on the children’s mental and social health, which is what led us to create the online exercises for riders to connect together in a relaxed format away from competition or pressure of any kind.

“Our committee works extremely well together as a team and we are all friends. We are able to have constructive, passionate debate whilst staying respectful and aware of each other's points of view.

“We are very aware of what our members want and try to fulfill this the best way we can. This filters down through our membership and we believe is a big part of the spirit of our club.”

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