Times are changing at the Pony Club under its new chief executive Pip Kirkby, with delegates at this week’s annual conference hearing of the organisation’s first major revamp since it was formed 87 years ago.
“The Pony Club is an icon of British society,” said Kirkby, who was recruited to her post from the Jockey Club. “Its timeless values and history are loved by all who are a part of it. At its core, the Pony Club is about young people having fun.
“Refreshing our ‘brand’ allows us to represent ourselves in a more modern way, while respecting our heritage and remembering what makes the Pony Club great. We need to move forward in order to continue to be inviting to both our current members as well as potential new recruits.
“The review emphasises everything that is wonderful about the Pony Club, including camp, our amazing alumni — many of whom are household names — our traditions and, yes, even our slightly daunting ‘District Commissioners’ who run our branches.
“We want the refreshed brand to re-introduce the Pony Club to those who know and love what is great about it, as well an introducing it to those who are yet to benefit from the fun at rallies and camps, as an integral part of what makes the Pony Club a part of British fabric and society.”
The Pony Club ’roundel’, most regularly seen on its badge, with tudor rose design and a central horse illustration flanked by spokes, is now notably streamlined.
The new design depicts what the organisation offers, while still ‘tipping its hat’ to the traditions that will always underpin it. The new look is part of a new continuous review.
Side by side: The two Pony Club logos
Members who gathered for the annual conference at Aintree Racecourse heard how the most comprehensive review of the Pony Club since inception in 1929 had been conducted in consultation with the organisation’s volunteers and members.
The Pony Club, of which The Princess Royal is patron, has greatly expanded over the years. There are now 900 branches and centres across the United Kingdom, while the institution has been replicated internationally, with 110,000 Pony Club members in 25 countries worldwide.
Still a largely volunteer-led organisation, it is for anyone aged from four to 25 years and includes young people with and without their own horses and ponies. As well as opportunities for riding and care of horses and ponies, it also offers social development and the chances to make friendships, as well as forming part of the rider pathway up into the Olympic disciplines.
The riding disciplines covered by the Pony Club are dressage, endurance riding, eventing, mounted games, polo, polocrosse, pony racing, tetrathlon and showjumping.
Eventer Mary King said: “The Pony Club was a huge part of my younger life. Everything revolved around the events, rallies, shows and quiz nights. I could not wait to hear of what was coming up for the school holidays. I hope the refreshed brand will mean it can continue to offer these benefits to a whole new audience for many years to come.
And her fellow eventing star Nicola Wilson added: “I have great memories of my time in the Pony Club, where I learnt so much, while at the same time having great fun.
“As an organisation, it is ideally placed to promote the highest ideals of sportsmanship and loyalty, while also creating character and self-discipline, which I know has helped me in my career as an event rider. I fully endorse the refresh of the Pony Club brand, as this will only further strengthen its appeal to the modern day young rider.”