Sour economy taking toll on local club
By Lee Ann Sides Garrett
“Legs up,” Jenny Majors calls out as she watches her daughter, Sammi, sail effortlessly over a jump on her horse,
Bailey. Sammi turns and jumps another, making it look easy. “I’m as proud as I can be of her,” Jenny says. “I love that she’s as passionate about horses as I am.” She has good reason to be. Sammi received high marks at the U.S. Pony Club Nationals in Lexington, Va., in July, with her team placing first in horse management and second in Polocrosse.
Jenny competed when she was younger, but says cost prevents them both from competing now. So she teaches Sammi. According to
www.ponyclub.org, Pony Club is one of the leading junior equestrian organizations in the world with chapters in 30 countries. The U.S. has more than 600 clubs with more than 12,000 members. Jenny is the District Commissioner for the South River Bend Pony Club in Cleveland.
Sammi, who has been riding horses since she was 2 years old, has been a member of Pony Club for years. Jenny says the Cleveland club now has only four members, but would like to have more.
“The high price of fuel has made it harder to travel long distances,” Jenny says.
In Pony Club, kids learn valuable skills such as horse care, care of equipment, cleanliness, grooming, veterinary care, feeding, shoeing and other areas of horse management. During competition, judges quiz riders on all these areas. Riders work to achieve rankings in nine stages of progressive standards of proficiency. They also participate in such events as show jumping, dressage and polocrosse. Polocrosse is a game related to polo, but it is played with a racquet similar to the kind used in lacrosse. “When you get your next ranking,” Sammi says, “it
feels like you accomplished something big.” Due to the small size of the South River Bend club, Sammi competed at nationals on a team made up of riders from different clubs. “It teaches you responsibility to do well for the team,” says Sammi. “And you learn how to get along with
others whether you like them or not.”
The club will host a mounted meeting, or clinic, at Tanglewood Park on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1p.m. The main focus will be polocrosse, but organizers invite anyone interested in checking out the club to come unmounted to learn, but to bring a horse if they have one. Owning a horse is not a requirement for membership, but potential members need to have access to one. The club is open to riders up to age 25.
Carolina Polocrosse Team will attend to help teach club members. Jenny says the size of the horse doesn’t matter. Pony Club isn’t just for ponies. The word “pony” reflects the age of the members, not the size of the mount. Sammi’s horse, Bailey, stands 15.3 hands, and Jenny says some are bigger.
South River Bend Club treasurer Sarah Frederick says the club provides more than just education about horses.
“In an organization like this, it’s not all about ‘me,’ ” Frederick says. “You build good relationships that will carry into adulthood.”
For information, contact Jenny Majors at 704-798-0836 or e-mail