By Steph McNicol
Eighty years of show jumping, cross country and dressage is a reason to celebrate this year for pony clubs across Australia.
The first recorded pony club in Australia was in Ingleburn New South Wales, formed by Marjory Hirst and her family in 1939.
Pony clubs in Victoria began as a result of an article published in a popular English magazine ‘Riding’.
Mountain District Horse and Pony Club in Croydon was the first Victorian club, established in 1944.
The aim of the club was to welcome all, no matter how broken down the horse or how inexperienced the rider was.
To celebrate the 80th anniversary of Pony Club Australia, Kilmore and District Pony Club will enjoy a lunch and cake with all club members.
Currently with about 44 members, the Kilmore club aim to provide a harmonious environment where families can come together to enjoy and learn about horses and horsemanship.
Kilmore and District Pony Club secretary Amanda Knight spoke about the history of the club and said they celebrated 50 years of establishment in 2013.
“Since 1963 Kilmore and District Pony Club hosted rallies,” Ms Knight said.
She said a central location was ideal, with a permanent home made in 1978 at Kilmore Race Course and club rooms following in 1980.
Ms Knight said there were three past riders who became apprentice jockeys in the horse racing industry, as well as a young woman who began as a harness racing driver.
“A member of the Kilmore and District Pony Club, Haylea Wright, was awarded the 2017 Pony Club Senior National Dressage champion travelling from Kilmore to Toowomba with her horse to compete,” she said.
Broadford and District Pony Club was established in 1994 at a property in Wallan East.
However, since 1995, the Broadford Common has been home to the club.
Club secretary Lisa Barns said the club offered something for everyone and was a friendly environment.
Ms Barns said it was amazing that Pony Club Victoria had reached the 80-year milestone.
“There are thousands of riders who have benefitted at grass roots level from pony club and have gone on to do amazing things worldwide,” she said.
“We have had riders that have competed at the Royal Melbourne Show and more recently one of our riders moved into the Western Riding disciplines travelling to the USA.”