Shared from the 2018-01-01 Pony Club News eEdition

A Pony Club Milestone

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Judy Sophianopoulos is a Pony Club first. She is a Horsemasters member of Atlanta Riding Pony Club Riding Center in the South Region. Judy just eared her D-1 certification and at 85 is the oldest Pony Club member on record to achieve this distinction. There are over 400 USPC members that are over the age of 50, which is almost half of all Horsemasters registered as Pony Club members. Did you know there are only 24 members above the age of 70 in Pony Club?!

Judy rode as a child, and started riding again when she turned 70 because she missed horses. She and her horse of now eight years, Panda, enjoy all types of riding. Currently they stick mostly to dressage and pleasure riding. When asked what made her join Pony Club Judy stated, “A lot of the children at my barn are a part of Pony Club and my riding center decided to include Horsemasters. I thought I would give it a try.” She knew about Pony Clubs existence, but never knew how much she was missing. “It’s great because I have made lots of new friends and really reinforced information I knew, but didn’t practice as much or as well,” Judy shared.

Atlanta Riding hosts many schooling shows and Judy tries to attend as much as she can, to ride in dressage classes. Her goals for the future include improving her dressage skills and seeing just how far she can go in Pony Club. She really enjoys going on trail rides and hasn’t gone off the property much, but has plans in the next year to try to visit new trails and shows with her friends.

We asked Judy what her aspirations were in Pony Club, her response was surprising when she stated, “it would be awhile,” before she attempted her D-2 certification. Why, you ask? Well, not because of a riding injury, as most horse people would guess. Judy was visiting family in Las Vegas recently and had an accident where she broke her shoulder! It’s not keeping her down though. She is proverbially chomping at the bit to get back out to the barn with Panda. In the meantime, Judy keeps busy volunteering with the Georgia Equine Rescue League, which is an organization that offers castration assistance to low income horse owners as well as law enforcement equine education and help with the humane society. When she isn’t volunteering, she’s learning more about Pony Club and its standards. Judy appreciates her riding center meetings because they encourage all of their members to come dressed in informal riding attire each time. She feels it is, “good discipline” and lets them all practice correct dress and behavior for future certifications. Her favorite things about Pony Club include the importance of safety and good horse care. The thing she finds most difficult is not the learning, it’s just mounting. Physically, mounting and dismounting are difficult for her, but because of the therapeutic riding program at Atlanta Riding, there is a ramp that is quite helpful. Thanks to Pony Club, she has learned to correctly and accurately articulate “why” she needs and uses the ramp and how it is safe for her and for Panda to use this tool.

Judy wants to tell others who are interested that they should join Pony Club because there is so much you can learn, there are many new friends to be made, and Pony Club is great at encouraging safety with horses. She is continuing to inspire her barn mates to join and to get higher certifications. Look out for Judy and her Atlanta Riding Center friends at local shows and trails in the future!

See this article in the e-Edition Here