Support to Further Allow Side Saddle in the Pony Club Australia National Gear Rules

From the 1st of July, there will be changes to the way gear rules are delivered across Pony Club in each state. Moving forward, gear rules will be set by Pony Club Australia as a National set of rules and not by state bodies as currently done.

Presently, side saddles are allowed to be used for pony club rallies and competition as well as in open sections at competitions/event run under pony club rules. For many side saddle riders, pony club has been one of the very few avenues (especially in Victoria) in which we’ve been able to compete freely across multiple disciplines. With the enforcement of these new National Gear Rules this will see the exclusion of side saddle across the large majority of pony club disciplines. Side saddles will now only be allowed for use in "Group A" activities as per below. It is proposed that side saddles should continue to be allowed for use in all of Group A, B, C, D, F and G within the new rules.
Screen_Shot_2022-04-18_at_9.39_.27_pm_.pngTaken from the Pony Club Australia National Gear Rules: https://ponyclubaustralia.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Pony-Club-Australia-Gear-Rules-National-2022.pdf

This new ruling will not only effect side saddle riders in pony club but will limit other associations desire to make changes to their own rules to include side saddle in future.

It has been indicated that should Pony Club Members wish to use a side saddle in activities outside of Group A to apply for an exemption. The exemption must include support from the members club, Chief Coach, President and District Commissioner. Applying for an exemption is not guaranteed and it is still unclear whether or not exemptions will be granted on the basis that someone would just 'like to ride side saddle' and not because of a physical horse or rider limitation. It has been confirmed exemptions will NOT be granted to those riders not members of a pony club which applies to all riders competing in open sections at competitions and events run under Pony Club ruling. 

Pony Club Australia has published that “External experts were consulted as needed by the committee” during the formulation of these National gear rules. As one of only three Qualified Side Saddle instructors in Australia, I can confirm that no external expert consultation was made for side saddle. External expert consultation should have been needed for ANY specialist discipline listed.

Through my teaching at pony clubs, new riders are constantly emerging and taking side saddle up as an extra discipline with some even going on to compete. Without the ability to now do so, this will see side saddle rider numbers drop even further as opposed to being on the rise. I have always praised pony club for its inclusivity of side saddle riders and have had nothing but positive experiences from everywhere I have taught and competed.

These rule changes will see Pony Club Australia fall behind every other country with a Pony Club Association.

Now you may say “but why does it matter? You’re such a minority discipline anyway?” - If we mattered enough to be mentioned and about 95% excluded, we mattered enough to be consulted and INCLUDED. If we mattered enough to be featured by Pony Club Australia as a “Discipline of The Month” in their newsletter, we mattered enough to be INCLUDED across more disciplines in the new rules.

If you are a pony club member, rider, coach, parent, volunteer or supporter. If you are someone who competes in open sections at pony club events. If you are a side saddle rider, supporter, enthusiast or just someone who doesn't want to see a whole discipline cast aside and feel that what is happening is wrong - please, please read and sign the petition in support of change.

If you feel as strongly about this in the way that I do, PLEASE sign this petition in support and in addition, fill out the Gear Change Request Form: https://form.jotform.com/PonyClubAust/GearChangeForm as I have done.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
I have been a member and supported of Pony Club Victoria for 11 years. For 9 of those years I have ridden at rallies and competed side saddle extensively within both official pony club competition and open pony club competition in dressage, showing, show jumping and combined training (including training at rallies in cross country, games, polo cross, working equitation, etc). For 7 of those years I have instructed side saddle at pony clubs across Victoria and Southern NSW.

Im an International Side Saddle Organization Level III Advanced Qualified Side Saddle Instructor as well as a Pony Club Association of Victoria Registered Instructor for teaching side saddle. I have completed my New Zealand Side Saddle Association Grade 1, 2 & 2+ side saddle exams (similar to the pony club certificates but side saddle specific). I have competed side saddle at Royal and National Level as well as having been published in many national and international articles.

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Stacey Rusic - Same Side Equestrian    Contact the author of the petition

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