Kids Control The Pony Show
Children riding at the Pony Club Mega Rally are serious about competing to be the best. And every horse has a story, just like Joanna Russell's mare.
"She's actually an ex-racehorse rescue mare. She was neglected for five years. I bought her because she had pretty eyes," Russell, a team captain, said.
She has been in the Pony Club for 12 years, and she returns each year to share her love of horses with rookies.
"That's part of what it's about, coming back so you can help the younger generation, set a good example, and it's fun," Russell explained.
Riders and their horses compete in dressage, show jumping, and tetrathlon at this annual event. This is an event where horses are hands-off to parents, and kids like Rosalie Purvis do all the prepping before and after riding.
"For my horse, I have to make sure he's got two buckets of full, clean, fresh water. I have to make sure he's got a salt block. I feed him morning and night. I feed him hay," Purvis said.
These steps are taken to make sure the horses pass inspection. Examiners check to make sure the horse is in good condition. Points will be deducted if the mane is dirty, if the bridle is not fitted properly, and if the girth is not fitted properly.
This is all new to Purvis.
"This is my first year in pony club," she said. "This is the first day we're going to ride today."
The rally crew says kids love horses because they are so forgiving.
"The horses just take it in stride. They're like, 'ok, whatever, throw it at me, I'll take it'," tetrathlon coach Melinda Sadler said.
And kids keep coming back for more.
"I think it'll be fun, and I'm going to want to do it again and again and again," Purvis said.
Every participant in this program has a goal to compete nationally. Pony Club is one of the oldest and largest junior equestrian organizations in the world. There are 17 Pony Clubs in the Midwest.