Kachemak Pony Club riders capriole to victory at U.S. Pony Club Virtual Quiz Rally
COVID restrictions and mitigation practices have curtailed sports and activities over the past year but Kachemak Pony Club has found a way to engage riders.
They haven't been able to meet at the Cottonwood Horsepark on East Road in Homer but Melon Purcell, Pony Club District Commissioner, and her pony club colleagues devised a way to train riders and include clubs across the United States.
The club has a yearly Quiz Rally that calls together riders from different regions.
"There's a written test, an oral, classroom test, they identify lots of different things that have to do with horses, they have a group problem solving event and then they have a barn phase where they actually have to demonstrate things," said Purcell.
Purcell says that this year, because they couldn't gather riders together for the quiz, she and other club commissioners put together a quiz that could be done online and reached out to the National Pony Club headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky to instutite a nationwide Virtual Quiz Rally.
Through the national office, they sent out an invitation to pony clubs across the country and hoped that people would sign up.
"And low and behold," Purcell said,"lots and lots and lots of people signed up, like 900."
The rally happened February 27-28 and March 6-7. Quiz topics included horse management, health, tack, safety, nutrition and breeds.
In the Novice D Division (11 and under) 80 teams competed and 4 young women from Kachemak Pony Club placed first overall: Ahni Cook, Sadie Gibson, Phoebe Lang and Catherine Robertson.
Individually, Catherine Robertson placed 8th and Ahni Cook placed in the top 10%. Kachemak Pony Club member Evelyn Trejo also competed in the Junior division for 12 year olds. The Alaska Region had a total of 19 participants in the quiz.
Purcell says there were a few Kachemak Pony Club riding events last summer, following mitigation practices like masking and social distancing, but not nearly as many as usual. They didn't do any traveling to meet up with other Alaska pony clubs or host their usual Memorial Day and July 4th pony ride events. Also, their children's riding clinics had to be canceled.
"It's a lot of body contact and fitting of helmets and things. We were just too close for comfort. To help little kids ride, you have to help them physically for safety purposes. We are beginning to plan beginner rider camps for this summer. We are not going to do pony rides yet," Purcell said.
Kachemak Pony Club started meeting in person again recently but Purcell says they have divided into groups so the can meet in smaller numbers. They have 25 members right now. And, no, you don't need a pony to join this pony club.
" Maybe half of our members have ponies. But we are always looking for ponies either to lease or to borrow. Pony Club is looking for some beginner safe horses for this summer," said Purcell.
Kachemak Pony Club has age divisions from 11 and under to over 18 age. To find out more about the club and events this summer, or if you have a pony who might like to join the club, contact Melon Purcell at (907) 299- 2519 or email melonpurcell@gmail.