At the start of each rally day, it is standard procedure for all riding members of Arcadia Pony Club participate in gear check and troop drill.
Once riders are saddled up, they are gear checked by qualified instructors or parent volunteers that have completed the PCA NSW Gear Check Certificate. Gear check is a safety check where both the rider’s equipment (helmet, boots and clothing) and horse equipment – in particular the girth, bridle and bit are all checked to ensure they are in line with the PCA NSW guidelines. Whilst tightening a girth can be fairly straightforward, “bit checking” can be more complex with not only the position of the bit in the horse’s mouth being checked but also the type of bit and it’s appropriateness for the particular riding activity the rider will be undertaking. PCA NSW has a Bit Dictionary for referencing that explains the purpose of the numerous bits, bridles and spurs that are appropriate for the various PCA NSW riding disciplines.
Once each rider is gear checked, they are able to join the riders in in our large and fully fenced warm-up arena. Whilst the remaining riders are being gear checked, the riders already in the arena are under the guidance of the senior instructor and might start in single file and end in pairs with riders generally matched on the horses stride – this does mean our shorter legged ponies tend to be on the inside!
Riders then participate in “troop drill”. Troop drill provides a safe method of moving large groups of riders from one point to another. Furthermore, it is an effective method of warming up horses before more concentrated work is commenced. A pair of riders is appointed as lead riders and the instructor provides them with directions which can range from following the fence outside the arena to diagonally crossing over the arena and turning down the center line. The riders following must ensure they maintain the track behind the leaders. Riders can also be moved into a team of four line which requires a lot of focus at turns to maintain the line with the inside horse required to take smaller steps and the outside horse to take larger steps! This has the added benefit of socialising all horses in a group in preparation for the riding sessions run throughout the day.
At the end of troop drill, all riders “line up” facing the senior instructor for the count off – each rider needs to call out their number and it needs to be loud enough for everyone to hear it! Attendance for the day is recorded and the riders are then split into their riding groups based on rider ability, age and friendships. It’s a safe and engaging way to start each rally day.
Arcadia Pony Club has a “come and try” programme for riders aged between 4 – 25 years with their own horses or ponies where you can come along to a Rally Day and gain some riding instruction, meet new friends and have a lot of fun.
Do you love horses, enjoy teaching children and think you may have an interest in becoming a pony club instructor? We would love to hear from you. We provide a safe and structured learning program in line with Pony Club NSW guidelines.
Arcadia Pony meets the first, third and fifth Sunday of each month at the Rural Sports Facility in Galston. Want to find out more? Visit us at www.arcadiaponyclub.org