A-Z of Pony club

The A-Z of Pony Club

A little History

Pony Club is one of the leading junior equestrian organizations in the world, represented by 30 countries.

New Zealand has over 8000 members belonging to branches and clubs.

Riding membership is for children and young adults up to 25 years of age. Riders between the age of 21 and 25 may sit certificates but are unable to participate in national competitions.

The term “pony” reflects the age of members, rather than the size of the mounts. Horses and ponies of many different breeds, shapes and sizes are seen at Pony Club.

A 1 – the senior division of the New Zealand Pony Clubs Association (NZPCA) Horse Trials Championships and refers to a rider 17 years and under 21 years of age.

Delegate to COM – elected at Area AGM. The Area Delegate attends Committee of Management meetings. They are an integral part of Pony Club providing a communication link between the Area, its Clubs and Branches and Committee of Management (COM).                                             

Areas - there are 16 Pony Club Areas in New Zealand.  Our Area is Canterbury.

Clubs –    there are 81 Clubs in New Zealand. Some have as many as 12 member Branches.

 Our Club is Amberley Pony Club and it is an Incorporated Club.

Branches – There are 230+ Branches throughout New Zealand. We are members of the Amberley Branch of the North Canterbury Pony Club Inc.

Certificates - Pony Club certificates are an essential part of the Pony Club system, providing incentive and encouragement to learn and improve at all levels. Qualified examiners examine each level once members have completed their record cards outlining the objectives of the level. Examinations are not compulsory.

Certificate Levels                             

Lead Rein Achievement Card - the Lead Rein Achievement card has been introduced to give young riders on the lead rein a programme of simple tasks so they can work towards gaining a certificate which can be awarded once all tasks have been achieved and the coach has signed them off.

D – recommended age 8 or 9 years.


  • To gain confidence in riding and handling a pony.
  • To be keen to improve and learn.

D+ – recommended age 9 or 10 years.


  • Work towards a secure seat on the flat and over simple fences.
  • Demonstrate increasing knowledge and confidence in the care of your pony.

C – recommended age 11 or 12 years.


  • To attain a firm seat, independent of the reins, on the flat and over small fences.
  • To know and be able to apply, correct aids for simple movements.
  • To be in control of the pony at all times.
  • To understand the Road Code, and to show common sense and courtesy when out and about with a pony.
  • To have a knowledge of the daily care and working of the pony.

C+ - recommended age 12 or 13 years.

O  - for Options and offers a range of practical, artistic and academic options. There is no set examination or test, candidates select the required options and on completing the requirements, qualify for a pass in Bronze, Silver or Gold O certificate. The pre requisite for bronze O is D certificate; silver O is C certificate and Gold O is C+ certificate.

B – recommended age – 14/15 yrs. An assessment is required prior to sitting and partial passes are awarded. A candidate may choose to sit the one section only i.e. riding or horse management.

H – Horse management.

A – Riding section. On passing both the H and A section a candidate has their full ‘A’ certificate.

Chief Club Coach – a Club position, liaises with Branch Head Coach.  Nicki Hubbard is the North Canterbury PC’s Chief Club Coach.

Committee of Management (COM) – is made up of delegates from each of the 16 Areas, President – Nicky Williams, 2 Vice Presidents -also Area delegates – Allan Ferguson and Marj Steiner, Past President – Barbara Harvey, Treasurer – Noel Griffin, Executive Officer – Keith Scarlett and Coaching Officer – Toni Gray. A National Coaches representative also attends meetings, which are held three times a year.

The role of the COM is governance, planning, setting policies and procedures and ensuring a vision for the future.

Competitions - riders are encouraged to compete at our Club competitions to put their skills into practice. Canterbury PC organises annual Dressage, Gamblers, Games, Gymkhana, One Day Event and Quiz competitions.

Cross Country – involves jumping fences that are fixed, (do not fall down) and riding over all sorts of terrain. We have a Club rally on our course every few years.

District Commissioner / DC – the key person at Club level, usually, but not always chairs Club meetings and ensures that the Branches within the Club run smoothly. Fiona Harris  is our District Commissioner

DC – refers to the junior division of  NZPCA Horse Trial Championships. Named DC after the founder of Pony Club in New Zealand, Dorothy Campbell.

Dressage means training, much of what Pony Club is all about!

Dressage test – a set of movements’ riders must complete with each movement scored out of 10, sometimes 20 marks. Experienced people judge the tests in a parked vehicle behind the letter C.

Dressage Arena – where training usually happens at rallies and dressage or riding tests are ridden at competitions.

Arenas come in two sizes, short (40 x 20m) or long (60 x 20m).

Riders enter at A.    

Equestrian Coaches Training Programme – a correspondence training programme for Coaches and any one else who wants to better their equestrian knowledge.  NZPCA National Coaches wrote the programme, which works through the levels from D to A. Our branch subsidises the costs for Coaches and parents wanting to enroll.

Executive Officer – is responsible for the management of pony club at national level.

Fair Play Charter – all members should have a signed copy of the charter.

Gamblers Event – a competition involving cross-country and show jumping where points are scored on height levels at the first clear attempt only.  This is not a common competition and we run it on the same day as our dressage competition.

Gear Inspection - before all rallies and competitions there will be an inspection for safety reasons and to ensure that all equipment worn is allowable under Pony Club Rules. At a competition failure to have gear inspected will result in elimination.

Gymkhana – a ribbon day competition involving jumping, games and flat classes (e.g. school pony, paced and mannered pony).  Our Gymkhana is held in April.

Head Coach – a position at Branch level to coordinate rallies. Clare Dunlop is our Chief/Head Coach.

Helmet Standards  When purchasing a helmet ensure it is made to a safety standard recognised by NZPCA:

PAS 015                                                                                BSEN 1384                           ASTM F1163

EN 1384                                                                                AS/NZ 3838.

NZ Horse and Pony Magazine Team Mounted Games Finals - the National Team Mounted Games Competition is held in Zones throughout New Zealand. We compete in Zone 2 along with teams from our neighbouring 3 areas. Up to 20 teams (5 from each Area), of 4 or 5 riders take part. Branch teams qualify to compete at Zones at our Area games competition

Horse Management – an integral part of rallies where members learn to care for their ponies and their saddlery (tack)

Horse Trials – another name for a One Day Event (ODE)

Inter Pacific – a biennial rally involving teams from Australia, United States of America, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan and New Zealand. Each nation hosts the rally on a rotational basis. Teams comprise of 5 riding members, manager and coach. Each Area in New Zealand may send 2 candidates forward for national selection. Candidates must have attained their B certificate, be good ambassadors and be able to ride a variety of horses. New Zealand’s selection policy states that the team shall include a minimum of 2 members of either gender and a minimum of 1 member from either Island.

Coaches – we usually have four coaches at each rally, either taking a group or rotating around groups. Most of our coaches have attended courses and have commenced the NZPCA Coaches Training Programme.

National Coaches – NZPCA has seven National Coaches. Each Coach has obtained the British Horse Society qualification. They are available to take courses throughout New Zealand at Branch, Club and Area level and also facilitate at clinics and courses organised by NZPCA.

ESNZ – Equestrian Sports New Zealand, an equestrian body whose main focus is competition at National and International level.

NZPCA – New Zealand Pony Club’s Association Inc.

ODE – a competition, in three phases; dressage, cross country riding, and show jumping. Our ODE is held in May. Our ODE has classes for the four recognised divisions – introductory, pre training, training and open. The degree of difficulty for each division is increased by way of the height and spread of the jumps and the length and speed of the courses, and also by the movements in the dressage test.

Ask your coach for more information on the divisions.

Parents Role - Parents play an important role in Pony Club. Assistance is always required at rallies and competitions. Many coaches started their involvement with Pony Club as parents and like any organization, it requires parents as volunteers to make it all happen. The volunteer role is varied and the involvement at Branch level can provide the pathway for roles at National and sometimes International level. There is plenty to do including – administration, judging, working bees, equipment maintenance, fund raising, managing teams, stewarding, catering, picking up rails and of course instructing. 

Plaiting – enhances any pony’s appearance. Ponies are expected to be plaited for the Gymkhana, ODE, Dressage competition, and must be for certificate examinations at C+ level and above.

Rally – the engine of Pony Club. Where all members are entitled to attend and some coaching is given or received.

National ruling stipulates that members must have participated in at least 5 working rallies to be eligible to sit certificates and compete in representative competitions. 3 of the 5 rallies must be on the mount entered for the certificate or competition. At Amberley Branch  we hold rallies on the second and fourth Sunday’s of the month. Rallies are held at on John Savill’s property,  ‘Lindfield’, Reserve Road, Amberley. Mounted rallies include learning riding skills, horse management, games and other activities. Sometimes a rally will include a trek, and sometimes  we may have guest Coaches. Coaching follows a certificate syllabus, is fun and varied. The rallies start at 10am, which means being on your pony ready to go at that time.

Rider Turnout – we always expect riders and ponies to be well turned out. Pony Club uniform should be worn at all rallies, certificate examinations, North Canterbury club competitions and when competing outside our Club and Area.

Riding jackets are worn at Area dressage trials and for the dressage phase of the Area horse trial and for A riding examination.

Rule Books – can be purchased from the Executive Officer. They are available as individual books (Association; Area, Club and Branch; Certificate; Horse Trials; Dressage; Team Mounted Games).

Safety - we are involved in a high-risk sport, and for that reason we emphasise safety at all times - wearing a helmet while mounted, wearing sturdy footwear around horses, no jumping on pony club grounds without adult member supervision.  NZPCA also recommends the wearing of back protectors. A rider who has been concussed must not ride for the mandatory minimum 21 days without a Doctor’s written clearance.

An adult holding a current first aid certificate will always be at a rally and there will always be a mobile phone available in case of emergencies.

All accidents of a serious nature are required to be reported to NZPCA.

Show Jumping – show jumping involves jumping fences that can be knocked down as opposed to fixed cross-country jumps. Pony Club uses the rules of Show Jumping New Zealand (ESNZ) for competitions.

Sponsors – NZPCA Perpetual sponsors are Sport New Zealand & Quality Presentations. Dunstan Horse feeds sponsors our local North Canterbury showjumping circuit

Technical Delegate (TD) – a position requiring good knowledge of the rules. A TD is necessary at certificates at C+ level and higher and for competitions. TD’s must ensure that the facilities/courses etc are acceptable. The TD must be impartial and may be required to adopt a mediatory role.

Uniform – full Amberley Pony Club uniform consists of a helmet with a recognised standard as above, white shirt, blue branch tie, yellow club sweatshirt, jodhpurs, riding or jodhpur boots and pony club badge. We present new members with their badge on joining.  Starting out, the two essential items required are a helmet and footwear with heels.

Volunteers – are needed to make Pony Club happen. Required at rallies and competitions for all sorts of jobs. Doesn’t pay well but often a cup of tea and entertainment is provided. Sometimes expenses are reimbursed. Training is provided for most positions, and for the really keen volunteers, established pathways lead to higher levels of judging, coaching, team managing, TDing and administration.

www.nzpca.org - the pony club website. Covers Team Mounted Games, Dressage, Horse Trials, Show Jumping, other competitions, Inter Pacific rallies, Training, Riders pages including quizzes and chat page, Area pages and photo galleries. Many applications forms can be downloaded.


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Phone: 03 3149488 Nth Canterbury New Zealand

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