North Hill Pony Club History 25 Years Young

Manitoba's North Hill Pony Club (NHPC) celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2007 and although only a third the age of the Canadian Pony Club who marks it's 75th Anniversary in 2009, its members have a wealth of experience and memories.

Established in 1982, NHPC first began as a small club hosting lessons and stable management out of Brentwood Farms owned at the time by Gary Lundman, just outside of Oakbank Manitoba in Eastern Manitoba. Riding lessons were convened by skilled coaches: Tecla Dopheide, Robin Hahn and Jan Stephens (one of the founding members of NHPC) to name a few. Riding lessons ran from early Spring right through to late fall and during the winter months stable management / theory was taught in nearby Oakbank. Many levels of riders participated at Brentwood Farms.

Founding members included, but were not limited to, Cornelia, Gerd, Mark & Eric Martin, Danae Stephens, Jane & Jennifer Dyck (sisters responsible for designing the NHPC logo which continues to be used today) to name a few. Over the years, several members have completed their A level (Danae Stephens, Jane Dyck & Robby Norris) and at least two their HA level (Cornelia Martin & Lindy Norris). Many of our members compete at B, C and D levels.

As the pony club developed and membership grew North Hill was fortunate enough to call the Manitoba Horse Council Equestrian Centre situated in beautiful Bird's Hill Provincial Park, site of the 1999 Pan Am Games, their home. That facility (grand prix style and dressage arenas, cross-country courses) coupled with miles of trails have provided our members with opportunities for extensive learning and challenges with their equine partners as well as having served as the backdrop for many memorable cross-country lessons and trail rides, not to mention its own schooling show (which ran for many years and eventually grew into a very successful two day event).

Since its inception, NHPC members have been versatile, active and enthusiastic about their sport, participating actively in Quiz, Dressage, Show Jumping, Horse Trials as well as other equine sports: endurance riding, natural horsemanship and driving. Every year members represent Manitoba at the Canadian Pony Club National Competitions. Additionally, many members have excelled at national and international events with significant accomplishments.  

In the early years NHPC members participated in several rallies per year, then qualified for national rallies, (usually riders were NHPC members with a captain from a rival Manitoba club such as Baldur. Typically the club was able to field A teams, B teams and C teams to national Rallies and Quiz , with NHPC members being chosen to represent Canada at several Interpacific Rallies, such as Alison Fentum & Danae Stephens attendance at the Western Canada Games in 1990, and achieving Gold. Many members participated at National Rallies & Quizzes in various locations across the country as well as many camps held all over rural Manitoba. Some of the early membership, and their successes include:
From the time of these original members, many local Springfield children and their parent volunteers have participated in Pony Club and enjoyed sporting excellence and the pursuit of the ultimate partnership with their equine friends through NHPC.

Early members Danae Martin (nee Stephens) and Jane Payment (nee Dyck) reminisce about cross country rallies held in at a variety of facilities such as: Dauphin, Westgates, Souris, and numerous pony club camps conducted over a week with two rides a day, lessons, skits and stable management holding a special place in their memories of childhood/adolescence through pony club. They both noted rivalries with competing clubs particularly at rallies, but noted that despite lower marks on stable management the NHPC riders were top notch and able to "pull it off" in the saddle. NHPC had a long history of provincial rally championships.

Eric Martin noted that in the early days most everyone rode to the club lessons, noting that the Stephens rode 1.5 miles each way while he and his siblings hacked 5 miles to lessons and 5 miles home, assuring the writer it was uphill each way!! In true Pony Club fashion - Character building!   Congratulations Canadian Pony Club on your 75th Anniversary!

history prepared by Kit Anderson