Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
Pony Club can be really helpful, but I think the US one is a bit different to the British/Australian one.
I'll give you a little run down of what generally happens (at least at an Australian club - i've been a member of 3 different ones).
Generally a club services an area, and the club is part of a region called a zone. Once a month the club will have a rally day. Often these days will have themes. Each rider brings their own horse and is then grouped by age and ability. Each group will go off with a different instructor for a session. There are usually 3 sessions a day, the morning are often more theory like dressage, rhythm for jumping, turns for sporting etc, where as the afternoons are often more practical with actual sporting, jumping, mounted games etc. Sometimes morning session will be a theory session. Each session is usually with a different instructor.
In addition to rally days there are competitions and camp. Pony Club is an English riding club, while they may have a few different things the primary riding style, theory and tack is English. Competitions are held in most areas but there seems to be an emphasis on eventing, mounted games and showing/gymkhanas. Each club in the zone usually holds an annual gymkhana and other event and members from other clubs in the zone come to compete.
Camp is very fun and is basically a whole week of instruction with a 'troop'.
PC has certificates for horsemanship which you work your way through as you get older, and grading certificates for SJ and eventing.
It can be fun but there are a lot of rules and you have to do things their way, but the rules are generally pretty reasonable. You can receive good, basically free instruction but the quality of teaching varies as the instructors are volunteers. It is good to start young and be part of the community to make friends and learn. A parent will be expected to help out.
Some clubs focus on different disciplines so if there are a few around your area search for one that suits you.
Once you hit 17 you become an associate member. You can still do everything but generally don't. I'm an associate but I mainly help out with camp and rally days rather than riding, although associates still compete.
I recommend you go have a look at one unmounted and see if it looks fun, and if it does become a member. You can get a lot out of it.