pony club monumentThe United States Pony Clubs, Inc. (USPC) annual meeting and equine symposium will be held Jan. 21–25, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Arlington, Va., and will be co-hosted by the Capital and Virginia regions of the USPC.

The annual meeting and equine science symposium gathers USPC youth and horsemaster members, volunteers, and club and regional officers for workshops, meetings, educational activities, and an equestrian anatomy lab with hands-on activities designed for all levels and ages of Pony Club members.

“We expect a terrific turnout as we enjoy the benefit of many horse enthusiasts in the area,” said Cheryl Clark, Capital Region Pony Clubs Regional Supervisor.

Virginia Region Pony Clubs Regional Supervisor Carolyn Lorenzen agreed, stating, “This is a wonderful opportunity for people; people who attend who usually fly now have the chance to drive. The location is great for all of the horse people in the area!”

This is Clark’s first year as regional supervisor of the Capital Region; she met Clark at the 2014 USPC meeting in Portland, Oregon.

“I met Carolyn at the last event at Portland; we really get along and have a blast together,” Clark said. “We’re looking forward to this year’s meeting and we think it’s going to be fantastic.”

Added Lorenzen, “We hope people will come in from all over the country and we hope local groups will come for a day trip.”

The two Pony Clubs will have an opportunity to raise funds for their groups, including a silent auction and selling apparel, such as t-shirts. The two clubs also are responsible for finding sponsorship money, local speakers (although the national office will assist with scheduling coordination), and gift bags for the volunteer speakers.

The annual meeting workshops begin Friday afternoon and are held through Sunday morning. Participants may attend workshops of their choice, and many have been organized into specific tracks. The USPC website states workshop descriptions and details will be available “in the fall.”

The corporate members of USPC will meet for business of Pony Club, include electing a new board of governors, reviewing reports covering the past year, and the presentation of “special recognition and awards.” The meeting will also host leadership training sessions for DCs/CAs, RSs, NEs, RICs, and HMOs.

The popular horse anatomy lab, presented by Brad Gordon, DVM, and Cindy Healy, returns at this year’s meeting. Equine bones and specimens will be displayed to provide a hands-on education about horses.

Opportunities for members include a research and science fair, which provides youth members of USPC to research and to present equine topics of interest, with entries judged by local equestrian experts.

“The science fair is an opportunity for budding veterinarians and nutritionists to show what they know,” said Clark.

“The USPC is not just about riding; education about and care of horses is emphasized and this aspect sets Pony Club apart,” she continued. “The science of horses and how we care for them is a way for kids to demonstrate what they’ve learned and participate in the annual meeting.”

The spring meeting will also feature an art fair, an event not held in previous years. In addition, a banquet on Saturday night will honor individuals receiving the Founders’ award, which is presented each year to members who have made significant contributions to the USPC at the local, regional, or national levels over a period of 20 years or more.

“The big thing about Pony Club is the knowledge of horse management; the things the kids learn, such as medical issues and environmental factors—this is what makes Pony Club unique and valuable,” Lorenzen stated.

Both Lorenzen and Clark stressed the importance of the horsemasters group, an option that allows individuals older than 18 to learn about horses and improve riding skills.

“The horsemasters offers an opportunity for continuation with the club and also provides volunteer assistance to the younger members,” added Lorenzen. “This is critical to the success of Pony Club.”

Registration for the USPC 2015 meeting opened Oct. 16, and early bird registration continues through Nov. 15; registration closes Jan. 2, but on-site registration is available and equine education symposium day passes also will be available for participants not attending the annual meeting activities.

For more information about the Capital Region Pony Clubs, visit capitalregionponyclub.homestead.com; for the Virginia Region Pony Clubs, go to www.vrponyclub.org. The United States Pony Clubs Inc. website is www.ponyclub.org .