Spring has finally returned bringing warm sun, bright daffodils, new-born lambs and also signalling the official start of the equestrian season.
Mangawhai’s local riding facility, the Hakaru Pony Club, is gearing up for the new season and is extending an invitation out to new enthusiastic riders.
Head Coach, Marj Steiner, says with a recently expanded 67m x 40m all-weather riding arena, two showjumping courses, a small cross country course and experienced coaches, the non-profit organisation is well equipped to train horse enthusiasts no matter their age.
“Over the years we have built up our equipment that is vital to the training of our riders, whose age ranges from four to seventy-four,” she says. “We can also boast one of the best cross country courses in the area located on a local farm a few kilometres away from our main grounds.”
The club, presently with 70-plus members, offers a range of tuition including dressage, showjumping, eventing, trekking, pony club camps, horse mastership and coaching support for riders to attain C certification, i.e. knowledge and understanding of riding safety, technique and horse care. Riders are also encouraged to adhere to the philosophy of ‘Play Hard but Play Fair’ and to be supportive of each other.
Steiner says on joining, members receive the the combination for the gate allowing crucial free access to the grounds.
“Riding is not about taking your horse out of the paddock just once in a blue moon. They need to be ridden most days for the horse-rider bond to happen… and to build riding confidence.”
Rallies geared around teaching riders the basics of looking after their ponies, keeping themselves safe and ‘to have some fun of course’ are often held by the club.
“The challenge is to not only get our young riders through their certificate work, but also get them out there confident to be able to join in on any competition and to do the very best they can. At present we have a lot of beginner riders who are well catered for with fantastic coaches who put in their time for free at the rallies, to ensure our riders get the very best we can provide… and this year there are plans afoot to make their time at pony club even more rewarding,” Steiner says.
“We also have senior riders who have attended national competitions and have been very successful. These riders are amazing ambassadors for our branch and as such are the icons that our younger riders aspire to be.”
Hakaru Pony Club’s current premises have been four decades in the making. Over the years, many hours of dedicated voluntary labour by both riders and their parents funded by donated grants, have seen the area transformed. The grounds were initially used by a local rugby club who raised team funds by grazing cattle on the domain. A tennis court once lay where the pony club’s arena is now
situated, and the old tennis clubhouse that was in ‘dire straits of disrepair…with young people often camping inside’ has been converted into clubrooms.
“We are always looking at ways to improve our facilities… without the use of these grounds we would probably not have a pony club. Ideally we would love to have our own grounds sometime in the future but for now we have great support from the local council who owns the grounds,” Steiner says.
“We just hope the general public will recognise the great values we are teaching our young riders and how important these grounds are to us all who use them. We welcome you all.”
n For more information contact Denise Rogers (secretary), or Marj Steiner (head coach).
HORSES FOR COURSES: Riders enjoy almost ‘unbridled’ access to enviable space and facilities at Hakaru Pony Club, pictured using the recently expanded riding arena.