Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
I only know about the Australian pony club but I am guess it's similar to NZ.
Like Foxhunter said, it began in the UK and branched here but now our organisations are independent.
Pony Club is separated into clubs that span a certain area. Often they hold "rally days" once or twice a month, sometimes more or less, it's at the discretion of the individual club. It functions on it's own in the way that it usually elects it's own president, chief instructor, secretary and treasurer (and more) and these people are usually parents, or old members. Each club is a bit different. Some focus on dressage or jumping or eventing or mounted games, or it might just be a casual mix. Some really focus on the traditional pony club side, with troop drills where others seem to forget it. Some are quite elitist where as others are really laid back.
Each club is a member of a "zone" which is a larger area usually consisting of about 5 - 20 clubs. While each rally is attended only by club members, gymkhanas (competition days run by an individual club) are usually attended by other zone clubs. The zone will also have elected officials, and often competitions that zone members must qualify for. So at individual club's competitions the winners may gain points, or there might be "qualifiers" and then they can compete in the "zone" championship, and the winners of that may go on to state competitions competing for their zones.
The great thing about pony club is it's for everyone. There are people who are only led at the walk or trot, up to people who are jumping and cantering and competing. So it's up to you when you go but you don't have to do any of those things before going. Raw beginners can go.
Pony Club offers very cheap instruction from a range of people, opportunities to try new things and meet new people.
They are a bit funny with tack/gear, so make sure all your stuff is up to standard when you go. Correctly fitting tack, including bits. All leather in good conditions. Proper ankle riding boots, with a finger space in the stirrups. All stitching in good nick (I've seen gear checkers literally rip the stitching out of stirrup leathers), helmet. Also saddles must have stirrups bars and at least two girth points. That rules out pretty much all westerns and some stock saddles.
The best thing to bring is a good attitude. Sometimes they'll do things you like and things you don't like, some instructors you'll like others you won't. Sometimes there will be groups perfect for your level, and other times you'll be doing things that aren't really up to your skill. It's a great club to be a part of though.