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Archived Updates

This page contains previously-shared guidelines for Pony Club activities during the coronavirus pandemic. Please note that these guidelines may have since been superceded by more recent information - see the latest updates here for our current advice.

CEO Update 2nd October

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

I am pleased to announce this week our herculean effort to launch the new CRM System PELHAM is now complete. All of our Members, Centres, Branches and Coaches are now in our new central system. Beryl Stringer has been instrumental in leading this project and her team, who have devoted many hours above and beyond to get it to this stage, need to be congratulated.

Centre Proprietors will start receiving access to the platform next week, with 450 to work with, we will group Centres together and stagger the timeline to ensure we provide all the support and training needed. Please check your emails to receive further information.

Spring Festival - Arena Eventing

It has been great to see the enthusiastic response to the new Pony Club Arena Eventing competition. New dates and venues are being added all the time, thank you to all the organisers involved. Please note the updated Pony Club Arena Eventing guidelines which clarify the use of ballast to secure portable fences on an arena surface, available to download here.

Helpful tips for going to a show

I am currently attending all the autumn Area meetings and in Area 9 this very helpful guidance from Vicki Macdonald was shared, available to download above. These tips are to help competitors, parents and support team prepare for a show. They will help with the enjoyment of the event, making it more fun and less stressful. They will also help you support the organiser and make the event run more smoothly.

Paying The Pony Club

It would really help us if all payments to the Central Office were made by card over the phone or online. As you can appreciate, it is increasingly difficult to handle cheques or cash with the current restrictions.

CEO Position

I am also pleased to announce that after 14 months in post as interim CEO, I have now been appointed to the post permanently. As a volunteer in The Pony Club for over 30 years, a previous Executive Headteacher and 2* Eventer, I look forward to bringing my experience and knowledge to expand the reach of The Pony Club. As a former Pony Club dad, I have seen first-hand how my boys were welcomed and grew in confidence and skill, enjoying a huge range of activities and sports, particularly Mounted Games. I am passionate about including all young people in this wonderful organisation andam excited about the future of The Pony Club and the direction ahead.

CEO Update 25th September

Dear Members, parents and carers

Thank you all for your continued support to our Branches and Centres as they work hard to put on activities and continue to offer such a range of opportunities.

Our Pony Club activities are able to continue to run as they are organised events, run within approved guidance from us, as a national governing body. I am sure you will support all our volunteers and staff in the additional precautions and processes necessary to keep our fun training and competitions happening.

We must continue to adhere to local lockdown restrictions, which supersede national guidance. Where these are not in place, I have summarised the current national guidance for each devolved government below. In addition, there is a summary table available here.

Virtual Royal Windsor

I hope you have enjoyed engaging with the Great British Week of Sport. We finish this week with the livestreaming of the Virtual Royal Windsor Home International Dressage. Congratulations to all the team members, we look forward to seeing the exciting competition. We will be streaming the competition live on our Facebook page all weekend, the Dressage is shown on Sunday at 2pm.

Spring Festival Qualifiers

Many Branches and Centres are now organising qualifiers for the Spring Festival, to be held over the coming months in preparation for the Area rounds. Keep a look out for opportunities to compete in Dressage, Show Jumping and the new Arena Eventing.

National Quiz

The postponed final of the National Quiz is going to be held virtually on the 14th November 2020. Further details will be coming shortly. In addition, the National Quiz will be used to select a GB quiz team to represent us in the International Quiz, planned to be held online on the 5th December 2020.

COVID-19 Guidance

Following the announcements this week, it has been confirmed that organised sports and leisure activities that have been through “return to play” protocols approved by devolved governments CAN continue.

As a national organisation, The Pony Club has been through this process alongside fellow equestrian governing bodies in the BEF. Therefore, training activities and competitions can continue to be run, exempt from national social gathering restrictions. Please be aware that there may be local authority restrictions or lockdown requirements in place which will supersede national guidance.

England

Our current guidance still applies, the “rule of six” prevents any social gathering of more than 6 people, indoors or outdoors, in England. Organised outdoor activities can continue with numbers exceeding 6, with risk assessments and COVID-19 precautions in place. The continued guidance is to minimise numbers on site and run without additional spectators. Indoor sports can continue, provided that the number of people aged over 18 is limited to six. In England “covered arenas” have been approved by the Government as an outdoor activity area. "You are allowed to visit venues like a riding club to exercise which includes the use of large, open and well-ventilated equestrian covered arenas (these are sometimes termed ‘indoor’ arenas by equestrians but due to their size and ventilation are not considered indoor for the purposes of this guidance)."

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-phased-return-of-sport-and-recreation/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-phased-return-of-outdoor-sport-and-recreation

Below is a summary of what can continue (ref. Sport England https://www.sportengland.org/how-we-can-help/coronavirus )

  • Outdoor sports played formally and under government-approved guidance 
  • Outdoor sport and physical activity events following event-organiser guidance 
  • Informal indoor or outdoor sport and physical activity in groups of six or fewer while social distancing and following government guidance, and guidance from the sport’s governing body. 
  • Indoor sports involving children aged under 18, played formally and under government-approved guidance 
  • Use of indoor sport and leisure facilities, including gyms and swimming pools 
  • Organised indoor activities or exercise classes (these can take place in larger numbers, provided groups of more than six do not mix and the facility meets the government’s indoor facility guidance)

The Government has just launched the NHS COVID-19 App which can be used to scan QR codes in England and Wales.  https://covid19.nhs.uk/ businesses such as riding centres need to generate and display a QR code for attendees to scan with the app. Branches can also use this for rallies and events if they wish to support the track and trace. It does not remove the need to keep track and trace records in compliance with the return to play protocols. 

Northern Ireland

New restrictions have been put in place for private households in Northern Ireland: mixing of households in a private dwelling is not allowed and only 6 people from up to 2 households can meet in a private garden. Gatherings not organised by an equestrian organisation, riding school or equestrian centre are limited to a maximum of 15 indoors or outdoors. This would include leisure/recreational riders gathering informally. 

Organised indoor or outdoor equestrian activities can continue, with no limit on numbers and with spectators able to attend, provided that:

  • the organiser complies with the relevant legislation
  • undertakes a risk assessment
  • takes all reasonable measure to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

For indoor competitive activities, the relevant facility should not be capable of holding more than 5000 spectators.

Link to the health protection regulations: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/health-protection-coronavirus-restrictions-no2-regulations-northern-ireland-2020

Scotland

The First minister announced on 22nd September a tightening of restrictions, preventing people from visiting other households indoors. 2 households, up to 6 people can meet outdoors. Under 12yrs do not count towards the number limit. 12-18yrs must keep to the limit of 6 people but are exempt from the 2-household restriction. 

The major changes for equestrian activities are:

  • we should not exceed 200 people in any one day, at competitions, training and events, including organisers, officials and participants.
  • Activities scheduled to return on 5th October have been delayed, including indoor contact sports for 12 and over.

It is recommended that the Protect Scotland App is used to help reduce the spread of the virus. www.protect.scot

In Scotland, “covered arenas” have been approved by the Government as an outdoor activity area.

Horsescotland guidance https://www.horsescotland.org/equestrianphaseguidance

Wales

In Wales, only 1 household or extended household can meet indoors, up to 6 people, not including children under 11 or carers. Up to 30 people are allowed to gather outdoors with social distancing.

For organised activities, up to 30 people can gather indoors or outdoors. Coaches now must wear a facemask indoors when teaching, riders are exempt as they are deemed as ‘exercising’.  Please check that any indoor school used has followed the guidance from the local authority and their insurance company.

The pilot trials of sports with up to 500 people in Wales has been paused.

https://gov.wales/coronavirus-regulations-guidance

CEO Update 18th September

Dear Branch Officials and Centre Proprietors

In this update:

  • Local Lockdown
  • First Aid and CPD requirements extension

Local Lockdown

I have summarised the current level of restrictions across the UK in a table, which can be accessed here. I hope this helps clarify the current social and sporting guidance where possible. In addition to the guidance for the four home nations, there are different local conditions in place for The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Some areas of the country have just been placed under specific local lockdown restrictions by the Government, which take priority over the general, national guidance. Some local councils have allowed sport and leisure activities to continue provided they are organised by a National Governing Body, such as The Pony Club, in a risk assessed COVID-19 secure environment. Please ensure you check your local council restrictions carefully and follow them accordingly.

Thank you for all the hard work and ingenuity being used to run activities in these challenging times. It is because we have proven that we can run in a COVID-secure way, minimising the risk of transmission of the virus, that we can now continue with our training and events.

First Aid Qualification: further 3-month extension

The current extension for renewing first aid training was due to end on 30th September 2020. This followed the advice of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which currently states that to qualify for the extension you must be able to:

  • Explain why you haven’t been able to re-qualify
  • Demonstrate what steps you have taken to access the training, if asked to do so.

Although face to face first aid courses are up and running, in many areas there has not been the course availability. We are therefore extending the first aid requirement for a further 3 months until the end of the year, 31st December 2020. You should make every effort to update your training in this time. Online refresher courses are available, which are valid for 12 months. This may be a good option to take the pressure off finding a face to face course if necessary. A reminder that a coach with an expired first aid certificate can still teach, providing that there is an official with an up-to-date first aid qualification present.

We are reviewing the CPD requirement deadline, also currently extended up to the end of the year. There are many Pony Club CPD opportunities online, listed on our website, further sessions and topics are planned. In addition, there are several BHS CPD opportunities that may be appropriate, please check with your Area Rep or the office.

Disclosure checks and Safeguarding training can be undertaken online so these must be kept in date.

CEO Update 11th September

Implications for Pony Club activities regarding the new legal restrictions in England

The government has announced new restrictions in England which limit social gatherings to a maximum of six people from Monday 14th September.

The government has also confirmed that organised sport and leisure activity, run by organisations that have published “return to play” protocols and related guidance can continue without the new restriction in numbers. The Pony Club has been involved in discussions with and submission of plans to the government alongside fellow British Equestrian members right from the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. Our organised sport, including training, can therefore continue provided we all stringently stick to the agreed measures that make our activities “COVID secure”, minimising the risk of transmission of the virus.  If we do not all comply with the government requirements, there is the possibility of our activities being stopped.

Branches and Centres must follow the COVID-19 guidance, including the legal requirement of recording attendees at activities to support the NHS Test and Trace programme. Data should be held for 21 days, then safely destroyed and should be handled in accordance with GDPR. In addition, there may be local restrictions put in place by local authorities that need to be followed.

Riders meeting informally, for example going for a hack together, must legally abide by the restriction of six people or fewer.

Our updated guide for organising Pony Club activities, including rallies and competitions, can be found above.

The British Equestrian statement can be found here.

Northern Ireland

There are some localised restrictions being put in place in Northern Ireland regarding group sizes. At this point, organised activity, run with clear risk assessments and COVID precautions are exempt from the social grouping size restriction but must be run with stringent plans in place to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus.

Scotland and Wales

Currently there are no changes in group size in Wales or Scotland.

CEO Update 4th September

Dear Members, parents, volunteers and staff,

There has been a lot of discussion this week with BEF colleagues regarding changes in group sizes and increasing the numbers allowed for coaching and training sessions in England. Please read below for the latest information applicable to your area.  

I have also been responding to feedback regarding this CEO Update. I was pleased to hear the weekly communication has been much appreciated and served to keep everyone up to date with the ever-changing Government guidance. Now as we all move towards a more settled ‘normal’, the information needing to be shared does not always apply to everyone across The Pony Club.

I love the fact that our wonderful organisation caters from the youngest, grassroots riders right up to those with Olympic aspirations and our volunteers support them all the way. It does mean however, that by sending to everyone, information can be missed, especially when there is too much shared or it does not apply to them.

Therefore, I will be changing the format and role of our communications over the coming weeks.

  • I will continue to keep Branches and Centres informed of Government changes, technology developments and important news on a weekly basis.
  • Members will receive information on activities, events and news on a monthly basis and we may also send a short e-alert if there is something urgent to share.

I would encourage everyone to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and our website will also continue to be updated with the latest information. My aim is to continue to stay connected to you all and to keep you informed about developments in your organisation.

Latest Government Advice

  • England

An important update on group size:

The grassroots / sport and leisure guidance has been updated, including horse stables and arenas and, in England, the group size can now be increased from the existing 5 riders + 1 coach (total group of 6) to a number that is deemed manageable through an effective risk assessment. There is no specific number set, but it is recommended that gatherings are in separate and discrete pods of no more than 30 and everyone keeps within local restrictions / guidance.

This will be a great relief for organisers of lead-rein rallies in particular as they can now be run viably, with riders, leaders and coach in total exceeding 6.

The BHS has published some very useful advice which can be accessed here, including guidance on risk assessment for larger groups.

In addition, as we move into the autumn season and Branches and Centres are considering organising stable management rallies indoors, we will follow the National Youth Agency advice, which allows for youth work numbers of 15 plus leader indoors in England - https://nya.org.uk/guidance/.

  • Northern Ireland

Groups of 15 can meet for indoor or outdoor recreational / leisure activities. There is no restriction on the number of people that can take part in organised equestrian indoor or outdoor activities providing that the organisers comply with Northern Ireland Health Protection conditions and take all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the virus.

  • Scotland

Organised group coaching can take place for up to 30 people at a time. General meeting restrictions are for 15 people, with no limit for under 18s.

The Scottish Government confirmed that indoor spaces can open from the 31st August 2020. 

It is important that all guidance should be read in conjunction with the Approved Sport specific Phase Three guidance for risks assessments, physical distancing, hygiene measures and essential Test and Protect procedures which can be found here.

When opening indoor facilities please refer to the sportscotland guidance on getting facilities fit for sport which can be found here

I highly recommend the dedicated COVID Officer e-learning module which can be accessed here. This is quick and easy to follow, with very informative video clips, interactive quiz and useful documentation to support activities. Worthwhile looking at for all COVID officers, committee members and parents.

Note: If you wish to receive a certificate after completing the module, the sport’s governing body referred to when completing the form is HorseScotland.  

  • Wales

Gatherings up to 30 people can meet outdoors but there is still a restriction to only 2 households indoors.

In all parts of the UK, covered arenas (indoor schools) can be used but it is recommended in Wales that organisers contact the local authority to inform them of their plans. Similarly, if you are considering running an organised activity with multiple groups of 30 on site, it is recommended that you liaise with the local authority.

CEO Update 28th August

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

It has been an incredibly exciting week as we released the news of The Spring Festival, please note a slight adjustment on the date for the final taking place in England, it will be held at Arena UK on April 10th-11th. The final for Scotland and Northern Ireland takes place at the SNEC on April 6th-7th.  

This festival is the first event where we have seen the addition of Arena Eventing and I know many of you are ready to get going. We have our first set of event dates live on our website here, but please also note that we have additional eligibility rules for 2021 Championships, Dressage, Eventing and Show Jumping, all of which can be found on our website.

I was saddened to hear of the death of Ross Nye, who established the first London Branch of The Pony Club in Paddington, allowing riders of all ages and abilities the opportunity to ride in Hyde Park. We are very fortunate to hold a wealth of experience and knowledge passed down from our wonderfully passionate volunteers. As we look to the future evolution of The Pony Club we will always hold our heritage close to us.

Virtual Dressage Home International

The Virtual Dressage Home International competition has been heating up this week. We have received numerous requests to take part, but they didn’t quite fit the eligibility criteria. The Dressage Committee felt it was important to allow as many Members as possible to have the opportunity to compete for their nation and have refreshed the rules. British Eventing tests, My Quest and Team Quest are now all eligible tests to qualify with, please visit here for more information.

You must register your entry by September 4th, but you have until September 7th to submit your video.

Over this Bank Holiday Weekend we hope you have the chance to record your tests. We have been monitoring the weather as we know many of you are struggling with finding a suitable grass arena, videos can now be submitted from all-weather surfaced arenas.

Local Government Advice

  • Scotland

The Scottish Government have announced a move to Phase Three of their Route Map out of the lockdown restrictions. This phase allows further coaching activities to be undertaken, providing all activity is consistent with current Scottish Government guidance on health, physical distancing and hygiene.

Horse Scotland have released more detail surrounding the changes here.

Please continue to monitor local authority updates and ensure all activities are compliant with the latest Government advice.

PELHAM Rollout

We are pleased to announce the rollout to Branches of the new central database and CRM system, PELHAM. The first phase is Membership and Coaches and will take 5 weeks from 1st September to migrate all 330 Branches onto the new system.  Please bear with us all during this time, as there may be a delay in processing memberships, both Branch and Centre, whilst we complete this complex activity.  Branches will be receiving training via online meetings and documentation and all Branches should now be aware of their migration date.   

The Centre database has been fully migrated onto PELHAM and system access for Centre Proprietors has started and will proceed in parallel with the Branches. Please contact your Centre Coordinator if you have any queries.

Microchipping

As you will know the microchipping law came into effect in June 2018 to help tackle abuse and improve animal welfare. The law states that all equines will need to be microchipped by the dates indicated below, which varies slightly according to the location of the Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO) to which your horse is registered.

England: 1 October 2020
Scotland: 28 March 2021
Wales: 12 February 2021

For more information please view the British Equestrian website here.

Gift Aid

We would like to thank all Members who allowed The Pony Club to claim Gift Aid on their membership application forms. We will continue to reclaim this money from HMRC to support our developments and Branches will see the benefit in their accounts today!

Virtual Safeguarding

This week we are launching virtual training sessions for the ‘Safeguarding for Equestrians’ course, whilst our usual face to face sessions are postponed.

Virtual sessions will run in their place and will count as your face to face attendance. Bookings are £25 per person and will be limited to 10 participants per course to maintain engagement and interactivity.

For a full list of virtual sessions, click here: https://events.pcuk.org (Scroll to the bottom of webpage). All dates will be added here so do keep an eye out!

Pony Racing

We are pleased to announce that the Racing Foundation have approved a recent grant starting in 2021 to help members explore the world of racing in conjunction with Racing to Schools and the Pony Racing Authority.

Over the course of the past 13 years The Pony Club Racing Committee has worked with the two organisations separately and is formalising the pathway for our members to progress in the sport in the hope that this can lead on to a career in the Racing Industry. Further information for members, Branches and Centres will be available in the next few months.

The full press release on the Racing Foundation Grant may be found here.

Have a wonderful long weekend.

CEO Update 21st August

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

I really enjoyed the Art Competition judging and the standard of entries was very impressive, including the stories behind the creations. There was much discussion between the judges to select the winner because each piece was so unique, after 2 hours of judging they finally reached their decision.

Congratulations go to our overall winner, Jasmine from Cantref Pony Club Centre. It certainly would be a shift to our new normal seeing horses dressed up for work on the London Underground! If you haven’t had chance to watch the judge’s video please do, as they share their favourite pieces with runners up and overall winners for each category. We really look forward to running the competition again next year.

Competitions

On the theme of competitions, I wanted to remind you of some qualifiers that are coming to a close, so I encourage you to get your entries in.

  • Virtual Dressage Home International - Entries close on September 4th

We are looking for members to make up teams from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland. You will compete against each other virtually and then the recordings will be judged live at the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series on September 25th-27th. The teams will be made up of four members: two Open level riders, one Intermediate level rider and one Novice level rider where you will ride the Pony Club Championship Test at the relevant level and under Pony Club rules.

To find the teams we are inviting all eligible Pony Club members to enter an online qualifying round. This will require the combination to submit a video of the relevant test being ridden for judging. The combination with the highest marks will then be chosen to make up the teams. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible please see our website and enter online at http://events.pcuk.org/

  • Pony Club at Home with Land Rover Burghley – Photo Competition – Entries Close August 31st

Pony Club Members all over the world are invited to participate in ‘𝐏𝐨𝐧𝐲 𝐂𝐥𝐮𝐛 𝐀𝐭 𝐇𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐖𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐋𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐑𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐁𝐮𝐫𝐠𝐡𝐥𝐞𝐲 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟎’ with an online photograph competition. As many entries as possible will be featured in a special Pony Club Gallery on the Land Rover Burghley website during Burghley Weekend (September 4th- 6th 2020).

The winning photograph must feature your horse or pony and will be the image that best captures the essence of Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. It may be an existing photograph taken on Pony Club Team Jumping Day at the Event in previous years or a new photograph that recreates a Burghley tradition, memory, or goal at home with your horse or pony. Be as creative as you wish!

There are some fantastic prizes available - for full competition details click here.

  • Dressage Anywhere - The Pony Club Online Dressage Championships – Entries Close August 31st

If you are an avid online dressage competitor, or you are still riding within local authority restrictions, we encourage you to look at www.dressageanywhere.com where you can enter The Pony Club Online Dressage Championships. They are open to all Pony Club Members at all levels and are a great way to practice preparing for a competition and competing without leaving your home arena!

The Spring Festival

For those of you looking to future competitions and wishing to plan ahead we have some exciting news. We are launching a brand-new competition called The Spring Festival which has evolved from the Winter Series. It includes Dressage, Show Jumping and now Arena Eventing. Riders will compete to qualify for the Spring Festival Championships in April. It will become one of the main sporting events in The Pony Club calendar!  

The Spring Festival will be split into two regions with two separate finals, as we hope to accommodate more Members:

  • England and Wales Final – Arena UK 11th-12th April 2021
  • Scotland and Northern Ireland – SNEC 6th – 7th April 2021

Please be reassured that any competitions that have been arranged under the Winter Series rules will automatically be included in the Spring Festival 2021.

For more information and to keep up to date with preliminary qualifiers click here.

Updated Eventing Rules

Thank you to the Eventing Committee for updating the Eventing rules including the eligibility for the PC110 Championships 2021 at Gatcombe. To view the rules click here.

Local Government Advice

  • Northern Ireland

There have been very recent updates and tightening of restrictions in Northern Ireland. Outdoor gatherings from next week have been limited to 15 people, reduced from 30. Indoor gatherings from private households are limited to 6 individuals from 2 households. Sporting events can be bigger if there is strict social distancing in place.

Please check your plans carefully as the situation develops.

  • Wales

For clarification in Wales, larger gatherings of up to 30 people outdoors are allowed where these are organised and supervised by a responsible person for sports and other leisure activities.

  • England and Scotland

At present there are no further changes in England and Scotland.

As always please be aware of any local restrictions that come into force. We are all working extremely hard to support our Members, wherever you are based. So I hope you are able to enjoy some summer sunshine this weekend.

CEO Update 14th August

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

Happy Birthday for tomorrow to our Patron, Princess Anne!

We have seen increased activity across the country as restrictions ease in many areas, however we are facing localised lockdowns and changes in Government guidance across the UK. We all need to play our part in minimising the transmission of the virus and keeping ourselves and everyone around us safe.

I would like to thank all the volunteers who are making the activities happen – the Government has issued a useful reminder on how to ‘help safely’ under Covid19, including links to specific guidance from the devolved governments. Please click here

The key message is to stay alert and safe and maintain social distancing. It is easy to forget and fall back on old habits and routines, for example simple things like handshakes and gathering too closely together.

Training and Competitions

It is great to see all the activities and events that are being run in accordance with the Government Guidelines. We are moving towards a “new normal” as we adjust activities to enable them to take place now and in the future. Thank you to everyone for their hard work in enabling these to happen. Please can everyone respect the effort needed to organise events under the current restrictions and follow the organisers’ guidance and instructions. We run the risk of activities being stopped by local authorities and the police if they feel that they are not safe so we all have the responsibility to play our part in complying and may be asked to leave an event if we do not do so.

We are still being asked to minimise the number of people and the time spent on site, together with making every reasonable effort to restrict the transmission of the virus. For a reminder of the current guidance for training and competition activities please click here.

Information for Branches and Centres

PELHAM

The rollout of the new central database and CRM system, PELHAM, is gathering pace and those Branches who have not yet been migrated from UNITY have been contacted this week with the timetable for their migration. Further details on training and system features will follow next week – please ensure you check your branch@pcuk.org email account regularly.  Centre Proprietors will also be able to start accessing the system and I would like to thank the Centres Committee and the Coordinators for their support with this.

PVG - Disclosure Checks for Scotland only

We have been working hard to review and improve the application process for all Disclosure Checks in order to improve the efficiency of the process and support our Branches and Centres. All applications will now be made directly by the Branch or Centre to either HorseScotland or Disclosure Services, without coming through the Central Office.

Branches:

HorseScotland will now process PVG applications for Pony Club Branches. As a voluntary organisation themselves, they can process applications on behalf of other voluntary organisations enabling branches to take advantage of the free-of-charge for volunteer applications.

Centres:

Disclosure Services offer the PVG service for Linked Centres through electronic applications, they currently process DBS checks for Linked Centres in England and Wales which keeps this process consistent.

During lockdown, priority for PVG processing was given to key workers and, as a result, applications have been on hold since March 2020. This has created a backlog for Branches and Centres. We will be contacting those Branches and Centres who applied to the Central Office during this time to help them reapply through either HorseScotland or Disclosure Services.

For more information on what you need to do next, please take a look at the information available on the website - click here.

As a reminder, Disclosure Checks for England and Wales are undertaken by the Branch or Centre through Disclosure Services.  Northern Ireland applications to be handled via the Are Rep.

Coach information updates

A reminder please for coach updates to be completed by the Branches on the database where possible. Centre coach updates should be emailed to centres@pcuk.org

Although a long way from normal, I hope you are all able to enjoy time with your favourite horses and ponies. Have a good weekend.

CEO Update 7th August

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

The announcement last week around a step forward in team sport was welcome support to those planning Mounted Games, Polocrosse and Polo training and competitions. We look forward to members being able to access these sports again whilst reducing additional risks of spreading the coronavirus.

We are also pleased to share an update from Horse Scotland this week announcing an easing of restrictions for our Scottish members. Outdoor non-contact competition may resume in Scotland, but Horse Scotland are awaiting approval of equestrian specific guidance which they hope to have shortly. To keep up to date with the latest please news please visit: www.horsescotland.org/news.

I am also excited to share some special events happening in August.

The Pony Club Home International Dressage – Virtual Competition

We are pleased to have the opportunity to stage our Pony Club Home International Dressage virtually this year. The competition is usually a chance for riders to compete against the backdrop of Windsor Castle so, despite the disappointments that Covid‐19 has brought to 2020, our members will be able to ride at the virtual Royal Windsor Horse Show and to compete in this challenge online.

Entries for the competition open Friday 14th August, so make sure you are prepared, to find out how to enter please click here

The competition will be live-streamed on social channels from 25th-27th September where you can cheer on your favourites from the comfort of your home!

Equestrian Hopes and Dreams Art Competition – Finalists

Those following this competition since it launched back in April will know that the entries have been exceptional this year. We have seen over 125 people produce artwork that has shown great effort and passion. You can still view all the entries here.

We have been lucky enough to have a range of talented judges working together on our panel: Jocelyn Magnus, Hannah Gifford, Katie Falcon, Cornelia Fitzroy, Henry Symington and Bazil Leith. Last week they had the tough job of selecting the finalists for each category. We have contacted each finalist via email, so please check your inboxes, their first names are listed below:

11 Years and Under

Elizabeth, Jasmine, Seraphina, Suuki and Furla

12-16 Years

Grace, Macy, Charlotte, Fearne and Arthur

17 Years and Over

Katrina, Nicol, Maria, Lucy and Lauren

I look forward to seeing the entries in person as I will join the judges and watch them make the hard decision to select the winner on August 14th. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to enter.

Pony Club at Home with Land Rover Burghley – Photo Competition

Pony Club Members all over the world are invited to participate in 'Pony Club at Home with Land Rover Burghley 2020' with an online photograph competition. As many entries as possible will be featured in a special Pony Club Gallery on the Land Rover Burghley website during Burghley Weekend (September 4th- 6th 2020). There will be a packed schedule of online and social activities, including a feature programme on Sunday 6th September to celebrate the Event.

The winning photograph must feature your horse or pony and will be the image that best captures the essence of Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. It may be an existing photograph taken on Pony Club Team Jumping Day at the Event in previous years or a new photograph that recreates a Burghley tradition, memory, or goal at home with your horse or pony. Be as creative as you wish!

Entries are now open and close on 25th August 2020 and there are some fantastic prizes available for full competition details click here

I look forward to watching all the competitions take place this month, I hope you enjoy taking part.

Marcus

CEO Update 31st July

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

This week we launched our new webinar series, Centres Connect, for our Pony Club Linked Centres. The first episode was called ‘Embracing Change Together’ and has been designed to offer support and share best practice in these changing times. We have received a great response to the content and for proprietors who haven’t seen it, please check your emails for the link to watch the recording. It has also been great to see many Centres starting up activities with socially distanced riding bubbles and unmounted activities.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all our District Commissioners and their dedicated committees. As the holidays are upon us many Branches have been working extremely hard to run activities for members. They have been adapting to their new normal and have been focused on keeping everyone safe whilst having lots of fun. In the office we have started work on online resources and training for volunteers and Branch officials to support all their hard work.

As I mentioned last week, queries about your membership should be made in the first instance to your DC or Centre Proprietor. If you need to directly contact the office, please dial the office number and press 1 for membership.

Latest Government Advice - Team Sports

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has given the green light for the team sports of Mounted Games and Polocrosse to resume, following their approval of plans submitted by British Equestrian and The Pony Club.

The Return to Equestrian Team Sports Action Plan and the sport-specific action plans and risk assessments are available here.

In addition, Polo can also start running under HPA guidelines which can be viewed here.

Devolved Government Update

The latest guidance from Scotland allows a coach to teach more than 4 households in a day. We anticipate from 24th August outdoor contact sport will be allowed.

The latest announcement from Wales is that, from Monday, up to 30 people will be able to meet outside, while social distancing, regardless of how many household they are from. Children under 11 will not have to social distance in Wales from Monday. 

For Branch Officials

DBS (England & Wales)

Disclosure Services have provided the online DBS service on behalf of The Pony Club for several years now with most Branches and Centres holding their own accounts.

To help Branches, processing of disclosure checks in Wales and England will be directly between the Branch and Disclosure Services for all accounts needs, queries and payments. This should be more efficient, flexible and quicker than the current arrangements.

Branches have full responsibility for ensuring their volunteers’ and coaches’ DBS checks remain up to date on Unity until we migrate entirely to the PELHAM system where this should continue. There will be no need to separately notify the central office of checks via the e-notification function, provided Unity/PELHAM are kept up to date.

If you aren’t currently set up with an account to process DBS checks online, please contact Disclosure Services directly to discuss how to do this.

Disclosure Services contact details are as follows:

Tel: 01978 510100
Email: info@disclosureservices.com

Note, this service is only available to Branches and Centres in England and Wales. Scotland require PVG checks and Northern Ireland require Access NI checks

I do hope all our members are enjoying some form of activity with their horses and ponies in this lovely weather. I am still very aware that not everyone can move back to full activity, which can be frustrating. Please do not forget your online members area where you can download some fun worksheets to complete and keep building your knowledge.

CEO Update 24th July

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

We are excited that, in many areas, competition planning and preparation for the future is underway and we are thrilled that The Pony Club Home International Dressage has a stage at the virtual Royal Windsor Horse Show in the autumn. Our central team of dedicated staff have been working hard to adjust to new working patterns and continue to focus on projects that will benefit our members most. Many of our team are still only working part time, whilst we continue to be prudent with our finances and access the Government furlough scheme.

Competitions

As we start to plan and run training and competitions, where we can around the country, it is important that we continue to do so under current Government restrictions. Virtual competition is in full swing and is an ideal option available to many. However, we have seen the appetite for live competition to begin again. Working with our BEF colleagues we continually meet to review our plans and support each other as we resume activities.

To support our Branches and Centres who are exploring running Pony Club training and competitions, our updated document is available to download above.

This document holds a wealth of information around how we should be running all activities. It is important for both organiser and member to review this document to understand what is expected at an event. The priority is always the safety of our volunteers and members at all times, please remain patient and respectful as we all adapt to the 'new' normal.

Latest Help and Advice

We pride ourselves on offering the best customer service to our members with only a team of 20 supporting a membership of over 30,000. However, it is important to recognise that our team is still not running at full capacity and we are juggling our priorities. We want to continue to focus on those important tasks that help and support our members and volunteer network most.

We have all expanded our roles and have been manning reception, answering helpdesk enquiries and the continued stream of emails. We love speaking with our members and volunteers as it ensures we stay connected to what you need, but I would like to ask for your support to help us increase efficiency levels.

We are working hard to keep our website as up to date as possible and before you contact us directly I would ask that you check there first - www.pcuk.org. Your District Commissioner or Centre Proprietor should be the first point of reference for additional support before reaching the central team. DCs and Proprietors are in turn supported by the Area Representatives and Centre Coordinators who have access to the latest updates and news.

For ease of use here are a few quick links to frequently asked questions:

  • CEO Update and associated documents are available to download on this page.
  • Help and Advice on Disclosure Checks, Safeguarding, First Aid, CPD, Insurance, Vaccinations and much more is available here.
  • Don’t forget your membership area, it is full of activities to download here

We will of course continue to be available on the phone to help but please do check the online and local support available first. Thank you for your continued support of The Pony Club and have a great weekend.

CEO Update 17th July

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

Thankfully, it has been a quieter week regarding announcements from local Governments. We can celebrate the pockets of the UK clear of coronavirus, but we must also remain aware that so many are still battling against the spread. Watching how everyone in The Pony Club has come together over these last five months has been nothing short of exceptional. You have all been a testament to our values of Togetherness, Empathy, Respect, Learning and Passion, thank you.

Former Pony Club Chairman

It is with great sadness that we have to inform you that Cherry Michell, Pony Club Chairman from 2008 to 2014 and Life Vice President, sadly died last week. We all have so many fond memories of her energy and enthusiasm and deep love for The Pony Club, she will be greatly missed, and our thoughts are with her family.

PELHAM

The IT and Membership team are working extraordinarily hard to continue the roll out of our brand-new CRM system. We are pleased to see The Pony Club moving into a place where we can increase efficiencies and provide an improved experience for Centres, Branches, Members and Volunteers.

There is a phased plan in place over the next few months to accelerate the final stages of the project. We are pleased to report that all Centre and some Branch memberships are being processed on the system and we now have new capability to keep these members up to date with the status of their membership. We endeavour to keep any challenges with the system to a minimum, but if you are encountering errors/issues please email enquiries@pcuk.org to keep us informed.

Centre Proprietors

We are delighted to announce our new webinar series called Centres Connect starting this month. These webinars are going to be a place where we provide support, share useful ideas, latest advice and answer questions from Centre Proprietors. We will also be connecting with a different Centre every time, to share best practice.

Our first webinar is called ‘Embracing Change Together’ and it will be available on Wednesday 29th July at 2pm. We will send all Centre Proprietors a link to join and it is recorded for those who would like to view it at a different time.

We hope these webinars offer a useful way to support you and your business as we progress in these changing times.

Social Media

We hope you have all been enjoying the variety of posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We are continually looking to share member stories, educational posts and bring the latest news directly to you. We are also pleased to announce that the very popular Pony of the Week is returning. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing our members favourite ponies, and we have missed them!

Every week we ask that you send your pictures to communications@pcuk.org and we will pick the Pony of the Week to share on Wednesdays. Hopefully, we will all enjoy a little smile to help us through the rest of the week.

CEO Update 10th July

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

This week all Governments appear to be picking up pace in the easing of restrictions. In this week’s update we try to unpick the various local Government guidelines and what it means for Pony Club activities. I would ask you all to ensure you continue to review your Local Authority guidance, as some are interpreting the Government advice differently. Our Area Representatives, Centre Co-ordinators and I are trying to keep abreast of changes as they happen, we communicate regularly internally and provide a round up in this weekly communication to keep everyone informed and up to date.

General Advice

  • Covered Arenas (previously called indoor schools) can now be used in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and we expect them to be allowed in Wales from August 3rd.
  • Advice from BETA is that hats are not shared between riders.
  • It is considered best practice for Health and Safety if a rider needs assistance with tack, the person assisting should be wearing appropriate PPE, such as mask and gloves. The rider should turn their face away from this person in order to minimise droplet transmission.

Current Local Government Guidelines

We need to ensure that all activity is conducted in a COVID Secure environment and that our procedures and protocols are managed and policed effectively by venues.

England

  • Social distancing remains at 2m or 1m+ PPE where 2m cannot be maintained.
  • You can meet indoors with one other household (support bubble is one household), but you should socially distance from anyone not in your household or support bubble.
  • Outside you can meet in groups of up to 6 people from different households, following social distancing guidelines.
  • It is against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place in private homes or gardens. However, as a result of the new Statutory Instrument 2020 No.684, business and charities can have more than 30 people on site, provided all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission are taken and the appropriate risk assessments are in place.

As a general rule, and in line with BEF members, for England if a group is in close proximity or interacting with each other or a coach, then this is restricted to a group size of 6 (a lesson for example). Whilst numbers for gatherings are not limited parents / siblings / additional adults around an arena should be kept to a minimum and must be socially distanced and not interacting.

England remains in Phase 4 of The Pony Club Operational Plan, unless in a local lockdown area.

The link to the latest Government advice for England is available here.

Scotland

  • From Friday 10th July up to 4 households can interact per day, in a gathering of up to 15
  • Social distancing remains at 2m
  • Under 11s no longer need to physically distance indoors or outdoors
  • Young people aged 12-17 must continue to physically distance
  • From Monday 13th under 18s can take part in organised outdoor sports and are not limited to the size of gathering amongst themselves. Coaches can teach multiple groups of under 18s
  • We do not anticipate larger events being able to run before 31st July

From Monday 13th July Scotland can move into Phase 3 of The Pony Club Operational Plan.

The link to the latest Scottish Government advice is available here.

The link to the latest advice from Horse Scotland is available here.

Wales

  • From Monday 13th July Wales will allow larger gatherings of up to 30 people outdoors only where these are organised and supervised by a responsible person for sports and other leisure activities and classes.
  • Social distancing remains at 2m

From Monday 13th July Wales can move into Phase 3 of The Pony Club Operational Plan.

The link to the latest Welsh Government advice is available here.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland remains in Phase 4 of The Pony Club Operational Plan.

The link to the latest Government advice for Northern Ireland is available here.

To help everyone digest the above updates we have updated The Pony Club Operational Plan Infographics for phases 1-3 and we have released phase 4 today. They can be found above.

Competitions and Events

We are closely monitoring our BEF member bodies’ events this weekend and are working hard with our Sports Chairs to draft guidance for running Pony Club competitions.

We were also pleased to announce the winners of the Write2Ride competition this week. We were astounded by the response receiving over 450 entries, well done to everyone who took part. We would like to extend huge thanks to the sponsors for their generosity, as well as the judges Penny Grubb, Danuta Kot and John Fairley who were great at reading the many submissions. A big thank you must also go to Pippa Ireland who organised this competition and offered such a fantastic opportunity to members. To view the list of winners please visit: https://bit.ly/2W089bB.

CEO Update 3rd July

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

As we approach the easing of Government restrictions for many areas of the UK and Ireland there is excitement about the possibilities of more activity, but I do feel it is important to remember that COVID19 has not disappeared. It is still vital that we follow local Government advice and adhere to the new laws in place for the safety of our members and volunteers.  We must also acknowledge that for some of our members they will not feel the easing of restrictions, as they have returned to lockdown, and are re evaluating how they manage their horses and ponies.

Local Lockdown - England

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock set out the local action being taken in Leicester this week, following a surge in coronavirus cases in the area. A zone incorporating Leicester city and a number of its adjoining suburbs are under increased ‘local lockdown’ restrictions and this will be pending a review on July 18th. Other potential lock down areas around the country are also being considered. Travel restrictions in a lock down area will be essential travel only and therefore  Branches, Centres and Members impacted in a localised area will have to move back into Phases 1 and 2 of The Pony Club COVID19 Operational Plan. Travelling to attend Pony Club training within the lockdown area is not essential and therefore should be avoided.

Country Updates

Scotland has lifted the travel restrictions, with the exception of some postcode areas. Wales have also announced easing of travel restrictions but no further restrictions have been lifted. Northern Ireland have moved forward with easing the social distancing rules and they have released a timetable of further restrictions lifting in the following months.

The Pony Club phases for these Countries currently remain the same, Scotland and Wales are in Phases 1 and 2, Northern Ireland and England are in Phase 4.

For further information visit www.britishequestrian.org.uk/news.

Pony Club Activities

Whilst there have been changes to our summer activities Branches and Centres are planning day rallies, training, fun rides, tests and badges, social activities and local competitions.

Centrally we are looking at the Winter Series qualifiers and allowing them to run sooner if possible and exploring opportunities for new Home Nations Championships for the Winter Series Finals allowing us to be more agile and flexible in 2021.

We also have the exciting development of The Pony Club involvement with Virtual Royal Windsor Horse Show and we are exploring virtual National and International Quiz events. 

We are also pleased to announce that we still have funding available from The Hurlingham Polo Association Polo Charity. They awarded the Pony Club a donation to be put towards the development and growth of youth polo through training and taster days. Pony Club Branches and Centres who may wish to apply for all or part of the cost of their taster, rally or training day, please contact us.

I am looking forward to seeing further activities resuming soon.

Marcus

CEO Update 26th June

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

Many areas of The Pony Club are gaining pace at the moment as we prepare for further easing of restrictions in July. In this update we are pleased to share more clarification on next steps, as we open activities in a phased and sensible manner, in accordance with local Government guidelines.

Thank you to all the volunteers, in particular our Area Representatives. They have worked tirelessly over the past few months to share ideas, encourage, and support branches and thank you to our Centre Coordinators who have been there to assist Centres in this challenging time.

Pony Club Activities

In many parts of the country, competitions are now being run by the affiliated sports under regulated and controlled guidance. This varies according to the sport; British Dressage and British Showjumping are limiting numbers within the gathering size of 6 and British Eventing are using the larger space available to avoid close contact. All are restricting numbers on site, based on sport or venue guidelines, enforcing social distancing, and using their entries system to track and trace competitors.

It is anticipated that, in addition to small group lessons and training, branches may want to start planning their own competitions. We expect these to be run in line with National Governing Body guidance and we ask that prior to planning or taking part in any Pony Club activity you review our Pony Club Guidance for Activities under Covid19 restrictions.

To review your Country specific guidance please click here.

We appreciate a few Branches or Centres are planning some camp activities and are looking at innovative ways for these to happen. A lot of hard work and planning will need to take place in order for any type of camp activity to run, within Government guidelines and we all acknowledge this just may not be possible. Venues and facilities may be challenging about camps being run and I ask that everyone respects the individual circumstance of each Branch or Centre.

There is no obligation for any Branch or Centre to be putting on activities that they are not comfortable with. Similarly, it will always be a member’s/parent’s choice to attend an activity or not. Everyone is different and will be in a different place for adapting to new measures.

Guidance is being updated constantly; we all need to use our common sense to interpret the government easing measures. Our priority is always the safety of our members and their families and our hard-working volunteers. We ask that all members remain respectful of the decisions made by their DC’s, Branch committee, Centre proprietor or the venue they are attending. By not adhering to instructions members may be asked to leave the planned activities. We are all mindful of the impact breaching guidelines could have on the availability of future equestrian events.

Centre Funding

We know many Centres are now starting to open their doors to clients and we are looking forward to supporting you all in the coming weeks. We are also pleased to hear that 24 Pony Club Linked Centres benefited from Sport England’s Community Emergency Fund to a total amount of £129,643. This fund is currently paused, and applications are not being accepted for the time being. However, if you are still looking for funding support, there are a couple of further Sport England funds that you may be interested in below.

  • Innovation call for innovative solutions to address those underrepresented in sport and impacted by COVID-19 – specifically focused on women, older people, those from BAME backgrounds, disabled people – deadline is 1 July. More information can be found here.
    • Active Together Crowdfunder Scheme – this is match funding for centres/ clubs/ branches/ groups facing short term difficulty. They would need to crowdfund in the usual way and then this could be matched by up to £10,000 of Sport England funding. More information can be found here.

Thank you for taking the time to read all of this information, we will continue to keep you updated in the coming weeks.

CEO Update 19th June

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

This week we have received updates from the Scottish Government on their gradual introduction of Phase 2 of their Route Map. The Welsh Government have also released changes to their Coronavirus regulations that will come into effect on Monday 22nd. Horse Scotland are reviewing the update in detail together with BHS Scotland and Sport Scotland and we will look to provide further clarification next week on how this affects Pony Club activities. Currently there doesn’t appear to be significant lifting of restrictions that would allow an increase in further Pony Club activity. We will of course update you further next week.

Local Authority Restrictions

I would also like to highlight that whilst we are working within different Government guidelines, we are also aware of Local Authority restrictions based on the interpretation of the national advice. The biggest inconsistency appears to be around the group gatherings and whether these can only be the maximum number of people onsite at a venue or the maximum group allowed together at any one point.

Before organising or participating in your planned activities please ensure you are aware of how your Local Authorities are requesting residents to comply with the Government guidance. This is frustrating and is causing confusion for different areas of England when considering how to best run their local Pony Club activities. Please understand we are all trying to comply with what is being asked and, of course, prioritising the safety of members and volunteers. We do not wish to see any Branch or Centre receiving a consequence for not following local restrictions.

Members

We have seen a flood of members renewing to join activities in their Centres as more reopen and offer one to one coaching or small group lessons. It is great to hear stories of excitement as members are reunited with their horses and ponies and some Centres are pleased to be open and busy again. Thank you to all those who have renewed so quickly, and we look forward to welcoming you all back when the time is right for you.

As you may have seen there has been much discussion around competitions as the three Olympic sports, Dressage, Showjumping and Eventing, resume or plan to resume. I have spoken with our Sports Chairmen this week to start creating a plan we feel is appropriate and safe to enable members to return to some local competition. This is very much in the early stages of discussion but we are hoping to share more information in July so you can all start planning.

Pony Club Camp is also very important to many of our members and we are aware that it is that time of year now. Many Centres and Branches are currently looking into what is possible if camps are planned for late July and beyond. We are aware a number have had to be cancelled and we are so sorry for all those who have been disappointed. However, I know many camps are being adapted, they won’t include overnight stays for members at this point, but day camps are being planned. Everyone is considering how to run a safe, socially distanced event where only small groups of members could be in contact at any one time. We are hopeful that the Government restrictions continue to ease and that we do get to enjoy the spirit of camp in some capacity.

We are continuing to update our Help and Advice page, so please do check for the latest here.

The BEF also continue to update their guidance, particularly regarding Wales and Scotland. For their latest updates please visit: www.BritishEquestrian.org.uk.

12th June

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

We hope many of you have started enjoying some local riding activities and I hope we will all be able to do so soon. With some branches and centres starting to run small group lessons, it is great to see smiling members reunited with their favourite horses and ponies. We are continually reminded what a powerful influence having ponies in our lives is and it should not be underestimated.

I have welcomed conversations with our Area Representatives and wider volunteer network as they all seek out advice on the resumption of small group activities. They are all striving to ensure they offer the best experience for members whilst keeping everyone safe, so thank you to everyone for all their hard work.

Members

I would like to extend a warm welcome to the new Pony Club members joining us for the first time, we hope you have a great time exploring all we have to offer! Also, a big welcome back to everyone renewing, it is great to see so many familiar names joining us again this year, thank you for your continued support. Please remember your membership is active for 12 months from the date of joining, so if you join or renew now you will have a full year of Pony Club activities.

I am also aware that many of you are awaiting your membership letter and number in anticipation of joining activities. I wanted to let you know they are all starting to be processed, as we had a delay due to the current circumstances, but we are looking to catch up as quickly as possible. If you are looking to take part in your branch or centres activities imminently and need confirmation of your active membership please don’t hesitate to contact your Branch or Centre in the first instance or our central office at membership@pcuk.org.

Competitions

I have also enjoyed celebrating the competition winners from the Decorate Your Pony and Hobby Horse entries. All the winners’ images are up on our website for you to enjoy and you can see the tremendous effort everyone put in. Alan Davies, Valegro’s super groom, certainly had his work cut out to judge the champions. Bradley and Sophie did a fabulous job, I don’t think I have ever seen so many flowers on a pony!

I was also pleased to see that a winner from our Easter Competition received her Pony Club Pony in Jamaica! What a journey that was, even with all the restrictions. They travelled well on the flight to America, where they had a short stop over and then jumped on another plane to Jamaica. After a short stay with the authorities, the pony was cleared to be received by Victoria-Rose and named ‘Aquaelius’ upon arrival.

Our Art Competition entries are also building up, it is great to see our international members taking part and we have over 45 entries so far! The competition closes on June 30th, so don’t miss your opportunity to send in your artwork, visit: http://artcomp.pcuk.org for more information.

We look forward to hearing the results of the fantastic Write2Ride competition, thank you to everyone involved for such a great effort and brilliant prizes.

Next week I expect to provide an update on the latest changes in Government restrictions and how they affect The Pony Club.

CEO Update 5th June

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

It has been a busy week here at The Pony Club, many of our branches and centres are starting to explore how to re start small group activity. It is important though that we recognise this is not The Pony Club back to normal, we are not there yet. Please continue to be patient and understand the decisions we make are based on the latest Government guidance and everyone’s safety which will always take priority.

As I am sure you can appreciate Pony Club Area qualifiers and the championships including regionals, The Pony Club Open Eventing at Gatcombe and the Tetrathlon championships have been cancelled. However, we are all working hard to explore what events and competitions could be run if the Government continues to relax restrictions and we do not step backwards this summer. Sporting and other committees are looking at what could be possible, such as local, area or regional friendlies or festivals.

Help and Advice Page Update

We have updated and clarified the help and advice page on our website under the Coronavirus menu heading. Please click here for clarification on coach requirements, online learning and vaccinations.

Volunteers Week

I want to say a huge thank you to all our wonderful volunteers who are keeping this great organisation going. Watching the innovative ideas and creativity from our volunteers over the last few months has been inspirational. I have particularly enjoyed seeing the diversity of our volunteers in the social media posts during this week.

CEO Update 1st June

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

The Pony Club is an International charity working within the guidelines currently provided to continue to keep our members, coaches, and volunteers safe. It is vitally important that we continue to follow and adhere to Government guidance. We must also be respectful of the differences in our areas, which can cross borders in some instances.

Today we can start to expand our training sessions from one to one to small groups in many areas of the country. As we step into Phase 3 of our Operational Plan in some areas, I wanted to share further advice and guidance.

Scotland and Wales - Phase 1 and 2
Only outdoor one to one coaching is permitted, and in Scotland, a coach can only meet one household a day. Horse Scotland and Sport Scotland are continuing to lobby hard to get this changed and offer more flexibility for coaches, we will update you as we know more.

England, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man - Phase 3
Your locality will determine what size of gathering you are permitted, but you must remember if it is a gathering of 6 people for example, this is 5 members and 1 coach, in a mounted or unmounted session. Pony Club activities may only take place outside, they are not permitted in indoor facilities.

Things to Remember

  • It is vital that social distancing of 2 metres is observed at all times.
  • When travelling to a training session you must only be with a member of your household in an enclosed space.
  • Upon arrival to a training session think about where you are parking and the proximity to others when moving around your vehicle with and without your horse.
  • Please do not greet other members closer than 2 metres and do not congregate in groups larger than those allowed.
  • If spectating because your child is being taught you will be included in the ‘gathering’ number if you are within the perimeter of the ridden arena, or similar space within a field. Observe the appropriate distance to ensure the safety of the coach, riders, and other spectators.
  • You must abide by all venue rules, they have specific policies and procedures in place to ensure everyone’s safety, please follow these.

A branch or centre should complete our COVID-19 Risk Assessment, in addition to existing risk assessments. We must continue to limit risks to members, coaches, and volunteers as we resume activity.

The latest infographics for Phases 1, 2 and 3 of the Operational Plan and COVID-19 Risk Assessment can be downloaded above.

To read today’s advice from British Equestrian (BEF) please follow this link.

A useful reminder of the group gatherings can also be seen via the BBC’s latest infographic ‘UK rules on meeting up’, published online today.

The Pony Club are currently focused on the safe resumption of group riding and rallies, we will of course inform you when we move to Phase 4 of the Operational Plan. Our sporting committees are currently assessing how best to support members as restrictions are lifted. However, it is important to remember that the facilities required for some sports may still be unavailable. For example, whilst horse racing is resuming behind closed doors it is not possible to arrange any racedays for our Pony Racing members until further restrictions are lifted.

Please continue to follow Government advice and be responsible for the safety of yourself and others around you. We all want to return to normality, but we are not there yet. We should be thankful for the opportunities we do have to enjoy training again.

CEO Update 29th May

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

It feels like change is happening rapidly around the country at the moment and we are all in slightly different phases. The announcement from the Scottish Government last night relaxed some restrictions for our members and centres and we have been in discussion with Horse Scotland on the implications of the change in guidance for The Pony Club. I have been advised that this is a ‘moving treadmill’ and will be updated as the situation develops. The UK Government are making a shift to allow small group gatherings, as have Northern Ireland, and in Wales we are currently awaiting an update.

As these changes come into place The Pony Club will move forward in our phased Operational Plan.

  • Scotland will stay in Phase 1 and 2, with the possibility of one to one coaching, however currently a coach can only meet one household a day. Horse Scotland and Sport Scotland are lobbying hard to get this changed.
  • England, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man will move into Phase 3. This will allow small outdoor rallies/group lessons. I hope to have further clarification, including training for different sports, after meeting with BEF colleagues on Monday.
  • Wales is currently in phase 1 and 2, however we await further Government guidance and will of course update you next week.

It is vital that we all remember that social distancing is still key in all activities. We must continue to limit risks to members, coaches, and volunteers by following our COVID-19 Risk Assessment, in addition to your existing risk assessments.

The Operational Plan and COVID-19 Risk Assessment are available to download at the top of this page.

Pony Club Staff

As activity starts building there will be an excitement to get going. As you know we made the decision to furlough most of our team in the central office. To support phase 3 of the plan, we will be bringing back three members, they will support Membership (including the Branch rollout of PELHAM, our new central database), Governance and our Pony Club Centres. We still have 9 (40%) of our staff on furlough, so the office is not at full capacity. We will continue to review this as activities resume. I would like to thank everyone who is able to work for continuing to share the load and support the running of our charity.

Members Area

Whilst we are all moving forward with our riding and training plans, don’t forget we are still running online activities. We hope you have enjoyed The Scrapbook Games this week, they will remain in your members area, so you can always revisit them. Check the email version of this update for the password. Don’t forget to enter The Scrapbook front cover competition! Visit Facebook to learn more.

Thank You

I want to thank you all for being patient and continuing to follow The Pony Club plan. Our aim is to be consistent and clear as much as possible in this challenging time. We are working with 330 branches and 450 centres in different locations across the UK to help the resumption of activities, in line with Government guidance. Let us remember that we are all still in different phases of the plan and we should continue to be supportive to everyone.

CEO Update 22nd May

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

This week there has been much excitement around getting our horses and ponies fit. I have seen some wonderful stories about how riding again has been much needed to support our mental health, as lock down has proved a challenging time for many of us. Mental Health Awareness week helped us highlight the importance of connecting with people, so please do reach out for support if you are struggling. It is important that we continue to look after each other as we move on our journey back to some form of normality.

I am aware there are still some of you waiting for your riding school to reopen. Please be a little more patient, our centres want to create the safest environment possible to allow you to enjoy riding again. There are new procedures in place for them to follow, so it might feel different when you return and one to one coaching only is allowed under Government restrictions at this time. I know our centres are looking forward to welcoming our members back.

Following Government Guidance

It is important that we all continue to follow the current Government guidance and that we remember COVID-19 has not gone away. We are lucky to be part of an outdoor sport, that can start enjoying activity. However, I would ask that we stay respectful of others who are not enjoying their 'normal' activities and we should continue to minimise pressure on our NHS services.

  • The Government has restricted sporting activity to outdoors only, so please do not use an indoor arena for one to one coaching.
  • As I shared last week, there is an additional COVID-19 risk assessment available that is to be used in addition to all existing risk assessments. These should always all be followed to protect ourselves and those around us.
  • If you are hiring a venue, please respect and follow the venue rules. This will allow everyone to continue to enjoy the facilities.
  • I also wanted to highlight that there is a lot of advice available for venues, coaches and riders on our BEF partners’ websites, British Dressage, British Showjumping, British Eventing and The British Horse Society, visit their websites to find out more.

Please remember if we choose not to comply with the current guidance and act in a way that is reckless and endangers others, it is possible that the Government will impose additional restrictions on equestrian sport and this will delay the resumption of Pony Club activities. For a useful reminder of The Pony Club Operational Plan and our current Phase 1 and 2, please view our new infographic in the downloads section above.

Furloughed Staff

As activities are restarting, please be reminded that many of The Pony Club staff are still on furlough and we have a limited capacity to support all enquiries. We will continue to do our best to support everyone, but please be patient if there is a delayed response from our team at this time.

Online Competitions and resources

Please also don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and to check the website, to keep up to date with the new additions to the members’ area and with all our online competitions.

  • If you like writing we have the Write2Ride competition with fantastic prizes available - Entries for Juniors close today, Seniors you have until June 14th.
  • If you prefer designing enter the ‘Decorate Your Pony or Hobby Horse’ Competition – closing June 1st.
  • For the artists among you we have Equestrian Hopes and Dreams art competition – visit the dedicated website here and view the amazing entries so far.
  • Next week marks the start of scrapbook fun! Gathering your pens, pencils, glitter, stickers and be prepared to decorate your front covers for the chance to win a surprise and join in the daily games to have some fun!

Enjoy your bank holiday weekend.

Marcus

CEO Update 15th May

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

This week has been full of information and updates due to the changes in the Government’s advice, regarding the lock down.

After speaking with the BEF and the member bodies, I issued The Pony Club's Operational Plan on Tuesday, which provides our phased approach to returning to full activity, at the appropriate time. We were also awaiting further guidance from The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), regarding the opening of outdoor facilities and specifically addressing riding. This has now been released and can be read in full here: GOV.UK – guidance for providers of outdoor facilities. This guidance has not changed our operational plan, but it enables us to provide additional clarity around coaching. At present, this applies to facilities in England, but not Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales. There are further updates expected and we will keep you informed if guidance changes.

It is important to point out that face to face group Pony Club activities are not permitted under the current Government advice.

We are aware that many of our centres are choosing to stay closed at this time to bring their horses and ponies back to full fitness and ensure they can offer a safe working environment. Centres and coaches that are choosing to reopen should feel adequately prepared and be confident that they can do so safely for their participants and staff.

  • We have drafted a Pony Club Covid-19 risk assessment for face to face activities to be used as appropriate and in addition to the usual risk assessments. Click here to view it.

  • For those offering one to one coaching to under 18’s, a parent or guardian must be present for one to one training sessions for safeguarding purposes, but they must adhere to social distancing and hygiene requirements.

  • All virtual activities should follow our online learning advice available on our website here.

The BEF have also released a statement, including a list of requirements needed as you consider reopening and they can be viewed here.

The British Horse Society have also released risk assessment guidance and templates to support riding centres, which can be viewed here.

I will continue to share urgent updates swiftly and provide you with our weekly update to keep you regularly informed.

CEO Update 12th May

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

Today I have been in further consultation with a number of BEF member bodies as we discussed the best way forward for the equine industry’s ridden and sporting activities. We have been awaiting a plan from the Government and DCMS to provide further guidance in relation to equestrian sport, coaches and centres. This is yet to be released, but we felt we should share our plan today and we will update you as soon as we have more detail.

In preparation for the lock down easing and the resumption of activities The Pony Club has created an operational plan, which has been designed to guide our members, branches, centres, staff and volunteers on the journey to resume all activities over time. At the heart of our phased approach is the welfare and safety of everyone involved in The Pony Club.

It is important to acknowledge that our club is International and that we have many countries that are in a different stage of the pandemic. We have provided 5 phases post lockdown and we ask that you work within the phase appropriate following your local government or country’s advice. We are not in a sprint to reach phase 5 and we will adjust our position should we need to slow down or indeed if we can speed up, in line with the latest Government advice and data.

The operational plan will commence from Wednesday 13th May, with phase 1, riding from home. This phase is about bringing our horses and ponies back into full work and doing this where they are usually based, at livery or at home. We know some have been turned out to grass or just had a maintenance programme in place for welfare reasons and is important we look to increase their fitness slowly. As we have heard the burden on the NHS has lessened and we feel moving back to sensible, considered riding plans to increase fitness is appropriate. As always, we would ask that riders consider the risk of their activity and ride within their capabilities. Take care to bring yourself and your horse or pony back into work slowly. As appropriate online competitions can also resume from home.

We also must remember that the Government have not removed the social distancing guidelines. They have advised us to meet with only 1 person outside of our household. As many of our members are young, a parent or guardian is typically always present when they are tending to or riding their horse or pony. Please remember this when interacting with another person, such as your coach.

The Pony Club operational plan does share the journey to reaching full Pony Club activities, however as we are all aware this could take many months to achieve. I wanted to share the full plan with you all, to be transparent and open around our thinking. We will update it if we feel necessary to do so and I plan to keep you all informed should our thinking change. We are working collaboratively with fellow member bodies of British Equestrian and we will share updates and guidance as soon as they are available.

You can view The Pony Club operational plan at the top of this webpage.

For the latest updates from British Equestrian click here.

CEO Update 7th May

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

It feels like we are all approaching a rather momentous weekend. VE Day celebrations seem even more pertinent at this time, as we reflect on all that happened in World War II, with the steely determination and bravery of everyone involved. I am also aware that we are all watching the news and waiting for the big Sunday update from the Government. I wanted to send this short update so you feel connected to our thinking, but rest assured we will send more news early next week, after we have had a chance to reflect on the latest announcement.

The Pony Club and all BEF Member Bodies have their recovery plans ready to enact if restrictions are lifted to a level where it would be safe to resume ridden activities. We predict this will not be an easy or fast road back to full competition, the safety of all our members and volunteers is paramount. We have been working very hard with member bodies to help develop resources and guidance and we will be sharing support materials next week. These will include the British Horse Society risk assessments for riding centres and coaches to help them on the journey back to normal levels of business, within the phased steps of our recovery plan.

We are ready and waiting for Sunday’s news, so please can I ask you to ‘hold your horses’ until we know further from the Government. I am proud of The Pony Club and how we have represented the equestrian world during this time. We have shown great empathy and compassion to the NHS and Key workers. We have shared our spirit of togetherness and I want us to stay focused on a safe resumption of our sports. 

I also wanted to say thank you to our digital expert, Marty Bibby, for recovering content from our Pony Prep website, which was unfortunately not accessible due to being built on old technology. There are videos, interactive quizzes and some great ways to test your knowledge on points of the pony! Our members area continues to grow with exciting new content every week, remember you can access your area via our Online Activities and Online Resources pages (check the email version of this update for the password).

Enjoy your bank holiday weekend and I will be in touch early next week to share relevant and appropriate updates.

Marcus

CEO Update 1st May

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

I would like to open this week’s update with a thank you to our community of volunteers, centres, members, staff and trustees. These are challenging times and yet we are continuing to show The Pony Club values of Togetherness, Empathy, Respect, Learning and Passion.

We are all pulling together to seek out new ways of working and supporting our members by increasing access to The Pony Club resources and activities. Do not forget we still have our writing and art competitions running. If you are looking to supplement school learning with an equine theme, you can enter a competition with great prizes at the same time. We have also added more resources to the members area which offers an opportunity to keep building your knowledge and could add some fun to your daily exercise.

Information for Branches, Centres and Coaches

Online Learning

Online learning is becoming the new normal and as we become more adept at using the range of platforms available, we need to remember our safeguarding training, the security of the platform and any age restrictions in place.

Centrally our team are using Microsoft Teams to connect virtually, but we are aware many of you are turning to the Zoom platform to deliver or access online training and coaching. There are many documents available to help you navigate how to use Zoom, but we thought we would share a document created internally on best practice and top tips to help you get set up. You can view this here.

Please ensure you are not communicating with young people if they are not of the correct age to use a platform, it is vital that parents or guardians are informed of all communication taking place, to protect both parties. Standard Safeguarding practice is that no adult should be having direct private contact with U18s. Contact from Area Reps, DCs , Proprietors and Coaches should be made to the parent. Please also note that WhatsApp has a minimum age of 16 and displays users’ numbers.

Safeguarding Training

For those looking to renew Safeguarding qualifications, I have been in discussion with British Equestrian and ALL training can now be done online during the current restrictions (including when you would have previously needed a face-to-face session). There is a discussion at the moment about how long this training will be valid for: if you would normally have been due the online refresher, this will be valid for the normal three years, if the online course is replacing a face-to-face session then it will be valid for 18 months in the first instance. This is because you may then be in the situation of going 6 years between face-to-face sessions, which is not being advised. I will keep you updated on this. To book onto the online Safeguarding Course, please go to the PCUK events page here.

First Aid Training

We have also been advised that those with expiring First Aid certificates have been given an extension for a further 3 months on the advice of the HSE. The training at the moment has to be carried out face-to-face but again, online training is being explored.

CPD Training

The Training Committee met today and agreed that CPD can be undertaken online provided you can participate with live interaction and have an element of self-reflection. CPD has to be approved by the Area Rep, who will consult with the Chair of the Training Committee before it will be recognised as an official Pony Club CPD.

Efficiency Tests and Achievement Badges

There are some excellent resources to support The Pony Club efficiency tests and badges. Several Branches and Centres are allowing members to take their achievement badges online if appropriate. The Training Committee is, however, keen to stress that the efficiency tests are not suitable for being taken and tested online. Work towards them and learning in preparation for them can all be done online but the tests need to be taken by the examiner in person.

I hope you have found this update useful and I will continue to communicate weekly, whilst we are in this period of uncertainty. Do continue to visit our website for the latest information and updates on the Creative Activities page and in the Membership Area. Enjoy your weekend and stay safe.

CEO Update 24th April

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

What a busy week at The Pony Club. We were pleased to announce the winners Mary King selected for our Easter bonnet competition. If you haven’t already seen who’s won, please visit our creative activities page and view the wonderful creations, as I mentioned last week, they are spectacular. We are now looking forward to watching the submissions come through for our Art Competition. We know we have many talented members out there and hope you enjoy our theme of Equestrian Hopes and Dreams. You have until June 30th to submit your work, so please visit https://artcomp.pcuk.org, for all the details on how to enter.

Keep checking our Creative Activities page here.

Riding

We know the conversation on riding is a contentious issue, but we do feel it is important to highlight our guidance again. Our stance has not changed since the Government began restrictions and we remain aligned with the BEF and member bodies.

We ask that you do not ride, unless it is necessary for the welfare of the horse or pony.

We do understand that this is an individual decision and that you know what is best to keep our members and your families safe, as well as the best way to manage the welfare of your horse or pony.

However, we should all respect the Government’s message of ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’, and carefully consider the risks associated with riding. As a community, we should not be putting any additional pressure on our emergency and NHS services.

The Pony Club does not endorse any group gathering, online competition or activities involving jumping your horse or pony.

Shared Resources

We have been working hard with our branches and centres to ensure we offer as much support and guidance at this time. As part of this work we have created a collaborative space on Google Drive to post resources everyone can leverage. We have sections on Arts & Crafts, Badges, Quizzes, Pony Club Tests and much more. However, it has come to our attention that many of our volunteer network are part of the vital group of key workers supporting us in even more wonderful ways. Therefore, their time has been limited to make all our resources available to our members.

In light of this, I would like to announce that we have created a member only area on our website, where you can get direct access to many of the resources shared on the Google Drive. We will continue to keep the area updated with new documents over the coming weeks, but we wanted to share the news as soon as possible. To access this new page please check your email for the link and password. We hope this offers more support for members and we hope you enjoy completing the activities. We would love to hear your feedback on the area as we look to develop it in the future. To send your feedback please fill in our contact us form on the website.

Online Safety

As we invite our members to spend more time online joining our competitions, accessing resources, and connecting with their friends, we want to ensure everyone is staying safe. We have very robust safeguarding policies in place to protect our members taking part in Pony Club activities and now more than ever it is important to address keeping yourself safe online. I would encourage all parents to visit the NSPCC website where they share a raft of useful information and links to other organisations who can inform us all when it comes to staying ahead with the latest online risks to our young people.

Looking to the future! It is still an uncertain landscape and the news can change daily, but at The Pony Club we are starting to look ahead. We are mapping out what our summer activities could look like under the current discussions around future restrictions. We want you to be assured we will do all we can to offer our members the best summer possible and we hope this will be spending time with our horses and ponies enjoying the sunshine. I will keep you up to date in the coming weeks and when we can plan more concretely.

Please continue to stay safe in these times and thank you for your continued support.

CEO Update 16th April

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

As we are set to face more weeks in lockdown it is a difficult time for us all. Many of us would be having fun with our horses and ponies planning activities and enjoying sporting competitions but may now have less time with them. At The Pony Club we are working hard to continue to provide you with activities. Easter weekend was great fun to watch firstly with the Easter Bonnet competition, the standard of creations was spectacular. We also had our 2 Legs Not 4 competition and the effort put into your videos was just fantastic to see. Thank you to everyone participating in the fun and I hope the winners are looking forward to receiving their prizes. We continue to plan more activities; the new writing competition has just launched with some amazing prizes, and our art competition will be live on Friday 17th April, open to all our members across the globe

Keep checking our Creative Activities page here.

Funding

This week we have updated information on our website about the Economic Resilience Fund released by the Welsh Government to support local businesses and voluntary organisations, which we hope our centres and branches can benefit from. The Sport England Community Emergency Fund is also available to support those in immediate need, designed to assist grassroots sport and physical activity providers, which covers our branches and centres. There are many more local funds available through an application process which have been shared with us and are listed on our Help and Advice page. Please do contact your Area Rep or Centre Coordinator if you need support.

Welfare

We have also shared advice on how you can be prepared if you do need to call on your vet during this time, with access to The British Equestrian Veterinary Association’s (BEVA) helpful videos. Visit our Help and Advice page to read more.

As we all rally together to support one another it is important that we continue to think about our actions and the impact on the wider community. Whilst we all support the work of our NHS and frontline workers, I am concerned about how fireworks and sky lanterns are now being considered as an addition to our Thursday 8pm clapping. The dangers to animals and buildings could place more burden on our emergency services than people realise. Please stay vigilant of your animals and buildings to mitigate any risks they may face.

Please continue to stay safe in these times and thank you for your continued support.

CEO Update 9th April

Dear Members, families, volunteers and staff,

This has been another varied and challenging week. I am really excited about the launch of the collaboration between The Pony Club and Horse and Country TV. I enjoyed my chat with presenter Jenny Ruddall for her “Check In” series and the opportunity to launch our Easter competition 2 Legs not 4, with the great prize of an interview with Piggy March. International trainer Caroline Moore offered to share her superb training videos with The Pony Club and I am very grateful that these will now be available for free on Horse and Country TV in the “4 years to 5*” programmes, featuring Ros Canter.

We really appreciate the involvement of such high-profile international event riders – both Piggy and Ros are of course Pony Club alumni having been members respectively of the South Norfolk and South Wold Hunt North branches.

I have also been enjoying the wide and varied activities that our members, branches, centres and Areas are getting up to. There are so many creative ideas being passed around on social media and on our Pony Club shared Google drive. The Pony Club together and in action!

For examples of ideas and activities please click here, to view on our Creative Activities page.

As I mentioned in my last update, we are continuing to run The Pony Club carefully and prudently and our team has been working extremely hard over the past few weeks. The trustees took the decision last week to prioritise projects and leverage the Government Job Retention Scheme. This has resulted in more than half of the staff being placed on furlough. We have retained a core of staff who maintain our essential infrastructure, trustees are reviewing this regularly as the situation develops.

Please do view the relevant contact details below, should you need to our support. Our last full staff meeting was emotional this week, but spirits are high and staff are looking forward to coming back as restrictions are lifted and activities restart, so that they can continue to work hard for our members and volunteers.

We have just updated our website Help, Advice and FAQs with the latest information before the Easter weekend - to view it please click the link above.

CEO Update 3rd April

We hope you are keeping well as we come to the close of our 2nd week in isolation. As I am sure you have seen this has been a difficult week for the member bodies within the BEF.

At The Pony Club, the priorities are our members and to ensure we make the best decisions to support the charity.

Cancellations

I am sure you can appreciate we are doing our very best to provide activities and sporting opportunities for our members this year, when it is currently so hard to predict what will be possible. As time has progressed, we are understanding better the medium-term impact of Coronavirus on The Pony Club.

It is with the deepest regret that we have made the decision to cancel the National Championships at Cholmondeley Castle, in light of the scale of this competition, the organisation required and the ongoing uncertainty. This also means the cancellation of area and qualifier competitions until the end of June. We will continue to monitor the situation - individual sports are currently making plans for what might be possible at a local or regional level. As soon as we have the latest on each sport we will share it with you.

Central Pony Club Team

In the current challenging times with our activities being seriously curtailed, fortunately, The Pony Club is in a stronger position than many as a result of previous restructuring and financial prudence. In order to protect that position and keep the organisation with the right skills and structures in place, we are going to take advantage of the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

As a result, 12 out of 22 staff members will be furloughed for 3 weeks from Wednesday 8th April after which we will review the situation. This will mean a reduction in service as projects and activities are prioritised. The situation will be constantly monitored by the Board of Trustees and myself.

Member Support

In normal circumstances we answer over 600 calls a week. This has reduced significantly in the last week to 60 as a result of the reduction in activities. If you have a query or concern please contact your local branch or centre, as our help desk will be unmanned from Wednesday 8th April until further notice.

For specific enquiries please contact the following:

Enquiry Type Contact
Safeguarding

Safeguarding Officer within your branch or centre

Health & Safety

Health & Safety Officer within your branch or centre

To escalate an urgent Safeguarding or Health & Safety concern please ring 02476 698300 and press 9 to speak directly to me.

Membership

Branch Secretary / Centre Proprietor

Branch Returns

Email: finance@pcuk.org

PELHAM – for pilot branches and centres

Email: pelham@pcuk.org

Your Support

Please continue to support our charity by maintaining your membership. We will continue to provide the latest advice whilst also giving our members opportunities to feel part of our community through these difficult times.

  • Your third-party liability insurance will continue to cover horse and rider. We are however advising, in line with BEF guidance that you do not ride, unless it is necessary for the welfare of your horse or pony.
  • We are partnering supportive volunteers and other equestrian organisations to launch online competitions, so please watch our social media channels for more information in the coming days.
  • Our hope is that you continue to build and share the resources available in our online shared drive. Our branches and centres have access to this to support our members locally, for example with the syllabus for badges and tests.
  • Our aim is to continue to provide you with resources to keep building your equine knowledge and staying optimistic about the future.

CEO Update 27th March

Thank you to all our members, families and volunteers for their continued support and understanding in these challenging times. After the announcement from the Prime Minister last night we are all aware of the need to stay at home and keep ourselves and others safe. Our Branches and Centres are full of ideas for home activities to keep you in touch and busy but more ideas are always welcome. Please share social media posts with the hashtags #PonyClubCarryOn and #PonyClubTogether so that we can all see what fun things are happening around the country.

As well as looking after each other, we all want to look after our horses and ponies. We have added to our previous advice the latest update from the British Equestrian Federation (“BEF” - our parent body, which includes the Olympic Equestrian Sports, RDA, BHS and World Horse Welfare as members).  The information includes useful advice on managing the care of horses, whether at a yard or home and further notes on riding, veterinary and farrier care. To view the full document, please click here:  https://bef.co.uk

Statement from the BEF;

The British Equestrian Federation urges all members of the equestrian community to strictly adhere to the Government’s directive to stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary to travel. The welfare of horses, and other livestock, is still essential, making your travel as an employee, owner or volunteer to provide care valid under the current guidance. Please keep your own health and safety in mind, as well as that of everyone around you.

Summary of the BEF information headings:

• Guidance for looking after horses at a shared yard
 - Practising good hygiene and other tips for going to the yard, at the yard, leaving the yard and arriving home
• Prepare for self-isolation
 - make a plan for someone to care for your horse if you are ill or unable to get to them,
• Riding
 - There is currently no Government guidance that we are aware of to stop riding, it is down to an individual decision if this necessary. It is sensible to avoid activities with an increased risk of injury and be mindful of other people if you must hack out. Unnecessary travel is to be avoided, including lessons or training and transporting your horse for anything other than emergency care.
• Equine professionals
 - Please contact your own vet for their current policy on essential visits, which may include booster vaccinations.
 - Farriers are permitted to work, please contact yours for advice if needed.

Horse Feed and Bedding

Advice from the BEF:

We have all been asked not to panic buy household food and items. The same applies to our horses. Feed merchants and bedding suppliers hold plenty of stock and there is no need to stockpile excess amounts.

Shopping for animal feed and supplies is classed as essential activity.

Previous Updates

21st March 1pm

The Pony Club Shared Resources

Staff have been working really hard to create the peer sharing platform “The Pony Club Shared Resources”. We are using Google Drive to save and share ideas and resources. All branches and Area Reps have an existing Google-based email which will give them access to the suite of Google apps. Centres and coaches will need a Google account to access this drive and we will be working over the next few days to develop the permission to allow access. In the meantime, we would ask that people support each other and share their expertise and develop our community resource. Go to https://drive.google.com and log in with the branch email and click the “Shared Drives” tab.

We plan to share these alternative activities across social media, so please do take photos and post with the hashtag #PonyClubCarryOn so that we can share nationally some of the great ideas and fun you are all having.

Video Conferencing

There are many solutions for face-to-face online contact which will be useful for meetings, discussions and also sharing live activities. We are using Microsoft Teams for our staff and national committee meetings, we also recommend Google Hangouts as a useful tool. Online Tutorials are easily available.

Online Competitions

We are working with partners to set up and deliver online competitions.

Dressage Anywhere
The Pony Club and Dressage Anywhere have teamed up to offer a special Online Dressage Championships for all Pony Club members. Dressage Anywhere is a great way to compete online from anywhere, without having to leave your yard. Simply register for free, choose a class to enter, then ride and film your dressage test and upload it for judging. You’ll receive a link to download your score sheet and be in the running for rosettes!
This year each monthly competition from April 2020 to July 2020 will be a qualifying round towards The Pony Club Online Dressage Championships 2020. There are classes from Walk & Trot all the way up to Open level. All you need are two scores at 60% or above to qualify! Go to www.dressageanywhere.com to get started.

Horse Events
Horse Events are promoting three separate competitions; a Virtual Team Challenge, Virtual Dressage, and Virtual Jumping with Style. All have classes and prizes for Pony Club teams and members. Find out more on https://www.horse-events.co.uk/events/virtual/

With more of us having to stay at home and keep physically away from others, it is important to keep in contact and enjoy activities within the government guidelines.

Please continue to keep yourself and your friends and family safe.

18th March 7pm

Today we have been investigating options to facilitate the use of a peer-sharing platform.  This will enable our Pony Club community to share your creative and innovative ideas and resources for enjoying Pony Club activities within the government guidelines of restricted social contact and travel. We will set it up, initially as a pilot, and provide basic user guides to be a self-running and self-supporting tool.  We will be releasing details in the next few days. We are also exploring the use of an online learning platform to support test and badge preparation, online horse and pony care etc.

I would like to apologise to members for not receiving the initial communications directly by email. The information went on the website and Facebook and was emailed to branches and centres. I have included the last two communications below and we will ensure members are included in all future emails.

Everyone is pulling together. I would like to paraphrase the words of the World Board Chair of Guides, Ana Maria Mideros “We face difficulties with optimism. We are resourceful. We are creative. As a global youth movement, we are building a generation of responsible and resilient citizens.”

17th March 7pm

Thank you for your support and understanding of the need for The Pony Club to comply with government advice to safeguard our members, families, staff and volunteers.

We are planning to provide regular updates as the situation changes. This page will hold information and provide you with the latest advice, together with FAQs.

In the short term, lots of centres and branches are exploring activities that can still be undertaken whilst following government guidance, such as online learning, video dressage competitions and bringing The Manual of Horsemanship to life with video how-to’s and quizzes. There are many creative and innovative ideas being shared. Our Training Committee is meeting next week and will be looking at practical tips and ideas from across our Pony Club community and how these can be shared. 

If you missed last night’s announcement, here it is:

Covid-19 Statement 16th March 7:30pm

The Pony Club Board of Trustees has been in discussion today and has made the very difficult decision to cancel all centrally organised events.

This includes the Winter Triathlon at Stoke Mandeville on Sunday 22nd March and The Winter Series Final at Arena UK 4th / 5th April.

Following The Prime Minister’s announcement this evening, requesting that we minimise social contact and non-essential travel, we advise that ALL Pony Club activities cease with immediate effect.

We would like to thank our members, parents and volunteers for their support of The Pony Club in this decision to play our part in preventing the spread of Covid-19.  

Please continue to stay safe and well during this difficult time.

We will keep you updated as soon as we have any further information.