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Virginia Region Pony Clubs

Sportsmanship ~ Leadership ~ Stewardship through Horsemanship

What Parents Can Do

This is an easy one! Parents and chaperones… you do almost nothing! 


One of the goals of Pony Club is to produce competent independent horse people. The clubs teach this (and very well! A BIG “Thank you!” to all the DCs!) and then the members come and compete at rally to show off those skills. At rally the HM staff wants to provide a safe, educational, and fun environment and we evaluate the competitor’s performance at being competent independent horse people taking their rating into account.

So, during setup time (the time from initial barn open until the stable area closes to non-competitors – this is typically briefing time) there are four things that parents can do:

  • Unload ponies.
  • Unload heavy things.
  • Hand walk/graze ponies.
  • Hang fans.

Parents are not to label things. They are not to set up tack rooms. They are not even to DIRECT the setup of the tack rooms. If you find yourself with ANYTHING in your hand that is NOT heavy, and NOT a leadline connected to a ponies face, you are probably engaging in the most feared term in the Pony Club vocabulary… Outside Assistance. Likewise if you are saying anything much beyond, “Have fun this weekend!” OK, maybe there are a few other phrases, but you get the idea. So once the four tasks are completed, go find the volunteer coordinator and let your children shine!

I know this is a difficult thing for parents, especially new to Pony Club parents. Especially if you come from the horse show world where you are the grooms for your children. But the members truly are able to do the setup all themselves. And they do a fine job at it!

One thing that frequently confuses parents is that once barns close at the start of the rally, from that point until awards, parents are not to be doing anything in the stable area except making one trip in in the morning to drop off a cooler. After that, all interaction should be conducted at the neutral zone. Once rally starts, they are no longer allowed to hand walk ponies.

We are not interested in how well parents can clean ponies, or create stall cards, or hang water buckets. But sometimes parents can get all wrapped up in “the competition”. I know that competition is a big part of life, but I like to reduce the emphasis on that on the members as much as I can. They worry on that way too much. My 2 cents anyway . So let them come and setup everything, and blow our socks off at their abilities. You would be really surprised at what the members can do. And watching the bigger ones help and teach the littler ones… teamwork. Another thing that Pony Club teaches.

If there are tasks that are too hard for a member to perform, maybe a larger member can help. There’s that teamwork thing again! Or they can always ask an HMJ for help. What we will usually do is more teach and oversee than actually do. You’d be surprised at how well a D1 can turn in a screw eye with a screwdriver.

I always love to tell stories at rally, and I am always gathering new ones. There was a D that had SPIT POLISHED boots at turnout. I asked, “Did you do those?” “No, my Dad did it.” I told her, “I appreciate your honesty, but when you go home, you tell your Dad to teach you how to get a shine like that and then I can give you an ‘Exceeds Standards’ on those boots!” The next rally came, and she marched up with spiffy boots and proudly said that she had done them herself! A well earned and deserved ‘ES’!

Under the category of “Don’t let this happen to you”… I walked past a stall with a Mom picking it out. I told her that that was “Pony Clubber work”. She said, “It’s OK. I’m an NE.” BAAPP!! WRONG ANSWER 

So, at rally we are educating the parents about what they are allowed to do, but if you are a Pony Clubber, and you notice your parents being a little too “sticky”, do not be afraid to educate them yourselves!


This is a job description that is frequently confused. The role of chaperone at rally is identical to parent except in one regard. A chaperone must remain on rally grounds within earshot of the announcing system. Chaperone duties can be transferred to a backup, but the chaperone must always be available if needed.

So all the above information about parents also fully applies to chaperones!

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