We have a great group of Pony Club members who are always thinking of ways they can help others. Zachary and Jacob Wallace, two of our Cedar Knob Pony Club and Cedar Knob Hounds members (who also play interscholastic polo for Franklin Polo Academy), were playing in a benefit arena match for Saddle Up Therapeutic Riding Center in October. After the match, kids from Saddle Up came to love on their polo ponies, and at that point, a day was planned for the Cedar Knob Pony Club members to volunteer and help at Saddle Up.
Pony Club members Rebecca McCormick, Emily Tripp, Ivy Grace Lacefield, Sophia Solomon, Zachary Wallace, Jacob Wallace, Cate Puckett, Linen Lacefield, and Olivia Davidson pose with some of the therapeutic lesson horses and Equine Manager Karlie Slaton and Barn Manager Mae Brennan. Photo courtesy of Jill Wallace.
Every quarter the therapy horses at Saddle Up go through a thorough saddle fitting, to ensure comfort to the horse and a secure saddle fit for the therapy rider. The horses also get weighed, dewormed if needed, and monitored for any changes that may need to be made. Saddle Up suggested this would be a great day for the Pony Club members to assist and to meet all of the horses. There were 29 horses and two rows (the length of the arena) of saddles to be fitted on each horse. Besides helping with the saddles, our Pony Club members received an education on saddle fitting. Most riders may learn how to fit their own saddle to their own horse; these Pony Club members learned about how to fit many types of saddles to many types of horses!
Our Pony Club members were so inspired how these therapy horses were changing lives, both for the individual rider and for the entire family, they wanted to do more. They learned that some of the therapy horses had big angular shoulders and fitting the saddle was a little more of a challenge. A couple of the Pony Club members ride horses that have to be ridden in “shoulder relief” girths for this same reason. Before the Pony Club members left Saddle Up, they were already figuring out how they could raise money to purchase these special girths for these special horses that were doing so much for their riders.
During the weeks that followed, our Pony Club members created “a script” for all of them to contact tack shops, friends and neighbors. The Pony Club members also decided they were going to put on their own “Mini Benefit” Show with the riders at the local farm where they ride for Cedar Knob Pony Club. Cedar Knob Pony Club might be a small pack but they have a huge heart and a keen sense to help others.
Enthusiastic Pony Club members prepare to match saddles to horses. Photo courtesy of Jill Wallace.
The Club was started almost ten years ago, just months after Albert L. Menefee, III gained his own pack of Penn-Marydels and began hunting on his own land in 2009. The enthusiastic founders of the Pony Club naturally were some parents of the hunt club that saw the needs of the children to learn proper care of their ponies while also becoming safe and effective riders in the hunt field. The Pony Club began in a backyard/pasture in Coldwater, Tennessee. Today we are proud to say we have never lost the grassroots of our small club and the mission of the USPC.
Over the years, Cedar Knob Pony Club has instilled the love of fox hunting, riding horses, good horsemanship, the importance to giving back to our younger generation and our older hunt members, community, horse rescue, therapeutic riding centers, and retraining of retired Thoroughbred race horses. Our “fun size” club has produced some exceptionally well rounded riders with the hearts of racehorses who will continue the mission of the USPC. Cedar Knob Hounds has always mentored our Pony Club members over the years and continues to mentor our new generation through joint Masters John Robertson Caldwell, II and Theresa Stewart Menefee.
We were very fortunate to have had the late Albert L. Menefee, III, MFH, personally invest his time in each of our Pony Club members. He taught them a passion for people, animals, and the environment. Albert’s gifts to our children will give for generations to follow as our Pony Club members give themselves to others- this is the greatest gift of all!