Youth Groups for Horse Lovers
 By Winniefield Park   •   29th Jan 2016   •   1,029 views   •   0 comments
Want to meet other like minded horse lovers and learn about horses? A club might be the way to go. You can start your own club if you know enough people who are interested, or you can participate in one of the many existing clubs. Here are a few examples of youth horse groups.

Pony Club
Pony Club is perhaps the best known horse club for youth riders. Pony Club originated in Great Britain in 1929, but is now in over two dozen countries around the world. Clubs exist in many areas, or it is possible to start one if you have enough people interested and you have a willing adult volunteer or two. Very often, Pony Clubs are based in stables where there are already enough riders for a club. Not all Pony Club members must own a horse, but itís recommended that you be taking riding lessons.

In Pony Club you work through a set curriculum to earn levels, starting at Beginner: D1, D2, and D3, to the intermediate: C1, C2, and C3, to Advanced: HB, B, HA, and A. Much of the information required to earn the levels is in the Pony Club manuals. These manuals are respected as handbooks for any horse owner or rider. There are opportunities to compete with and without a horse, exchanges, clinics and social activities available.

4-H is similar to Pony Club in that there is a curriculum. This is set up by age group. There are clubs, after school programs, in-school programs and programs for all ages from public school to university level youth. 4-H emphasizes hands-on learning. So while there are books for every program, the focus is on learning skills by carrying them out. You donít have to own a horse however, and although 4-H was originally aimed at rural kids, thatís no longer the case.

For those that do have access to a horse, there are shows and exhibitions. There is a program for riders with disabilities. And, there are opportunities to compete in public speaking, demonstration days and to take part in exchanges and travel within your country and internationally. Unlike Pony Club that runs year round, 4-H Clubs many run for a specific number or weeks or until a project is complete.

Breed Associations
Many breed associations have clubs just for youth and youth riders. The American Quarter Horse Youth Association is one of the largest. Membership and participation benefits include rewards for hours spent in the saddle, judging and speaking contests, seminars, scholarships, competitions and much more. You don't have to have a horse, but it helps if you want earn riding awards and compete. The Arabian Horse Association, The Paint Horse and the Morgan Horse Associations all have similar programs and are run on a local level by volunteers.

Rodeo Clubs
If rodeo is your thing, National Little Britches Rodeo Association or National High School Rodeo Association offers opportunities to learn and compete in rodeo events for youth aged 8 to 18. There are also seminars, career guidance, grants, scholarships are awards.

Horse Councils and National Associations
Many state horse councils and national and provincial horse associations such as The American Horse Council and Equine Canada have youth programs. These associations, while not as locally based as the ones above, do provide education, scholarships, and funding for youth riders who participate in many different riding disciplines. These groups may support other youth groups such as Pony Club, Future Farmers of America, or discipline based clubs such as rodeo, jumping or distance riding.
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