This year marked the first time Pony Club put on a North Atlantic Rally Exchange. In this “exchange” teams gathered here in the lower mainland from across Canada, the USA, and Ireland. (Great Britain was invited but could not make it.)
Local pony club families hosted the pony clubbers from out of town. We billeted a pony clubber from Connecticut, and the USA team chaperone, who was from New York. This gave us a chance to find out more about the different practices and events held in pony clubs other than our own.
On Saturday, April 12th, we had a barbecue to get to know everyone participating in the exchange. We also took part in a polocross demonstration, which is basically lacrosse on horseback.
On Sunday, we went for a trail ride at Campbell Valley Park. Most of the riders were on borrowed horses but it worked out quite well in the end. Unfortunately, one of the Canadian girls broke her finger and had to get a splint, but she managed. Throughout the rest of the week we did a lot of sight seeing. We went to Whistler, where we went on a ZipTrek; up to Grouse Mountain; to the aquarium; to Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge; and to Robson Street for some shopping. Even I got a chance to see many things that I had never seen before. On Wednesday, we went on a mock hunt out in Mission. That was quite an experience! By the end of the week, we were getting to know each other quite well, and it was sad having to say good bye.
All in all, this exchange was a great opportunity to get to know people from other areas of Canada, and other countries, and also to find out about their pony clubs. It is surprising how many differences there are between pony clubs of different countries, especially when it comes to testing.
This exchange will take place every two years. Next time, it will probably be in Britain. I would definitely apply to go again, and would encourage anyone to do the same, as it is a very worthwhile experience.
Hazelmere Pony Club, BCLM