If your little jockey is into the faster side of horse riding, and prefers galloping over rather more sedate dressage, you might want to get them started in racing. We’re not talking the Kentucky Derby here; youngsters are understandably not allowed to compete against adults. But there are many other avenues open, and many great ways for younger jockeys to get involved with racing. But how to start pony racing?
It can be a bit daunting if you’ve never done it and don’t know where to begin!
What You'll Learn Today
How To Start Pony Racing 101
Pony racing is incredibly popular with young people (and their parents and carers). it is great fun, and can be very rewarding in giving confidence and ability to a young rider. It is just like the adult version of racing; young jockeys get to weigh in and out, wear their personal silks, gallop down the line, and parade around the winner’s Paddock just like any other jockey.
There are different levels depending on different skill levels, and it is open to members aged between 9 and 15 years, with ponies under 14.2 hands.
Getting into pony racing is easy. Just have a Google (or ask other parents of pony mad children) to find a race club near you, and approach them for advice. Most clubs will run taster days, where your little ones can go along for a day and give it a try, and most will offer more intensive training such as exercises that can help young riders with their fitness and abilities. These may include:
- Balance and fitness – These exercises will test the balance and help the rider build muscles in all the right places.
- Equicisor – This is a mechanical horse, like those seen at country fairs, that gives your little ones a chance to sharpen up their forward racing seat position.
- Cantering in an enclosed space – This will help with the racing position and shortened stirrups.
- Gallops and field practise – This is a more practical, hands on experience, where both jockey and pony can experience what racing is actually like.
Pony Racing Clubs
You can find pony racing clubs that allow your youngsters to bring their own ponies, and some that will provide mounts for them – the only requirement is that they are below the maximum height range. Some ponies love racing, others not so much – by joining one of the clubs that allows you to bring your own horse you will be able to gauge whether your little one’s pony is cut out for racing.
All the clubs that offer pony racing options will be run by highly experienced, accredited riders who will be able to give you little ones the most top end instruction there is, including:
- Types of tack and equipment
- Race day procedures and etiquette
- Fitness advice
- Pony and rider nutrition and exercise regimes
- Balance and control in a forward seat
There are various pony racing clubs all over the US, as horse racing is a very popular sport with young and old alike – the thrill of watching a horse gallop over the finish line, streets ahead of the competition, is like nothing else. Just like adult racing, it is competitive and great fun – though there are not the same opportunities to win money betting on the outcome!
Types Of Pony Racing
The three types of pony racing are:
- Pony Club Race Days – The chance to spend a whole day on the race track learning the ropes and finding out if it is what they want to do.
- PRA Point To Point Fixtures – Like the adult version, ponies and riders will race from one fixed point to another. This type of race requires a Level 3 qualification.
- PRA Racecourse Series – This takes place after a rider and their pony have qualified, and are usually held before or after professional racing.
What Do You Need For Pony Racing?
One bit of good news for parents is that you won’t need to fork out on a whole pile of new equipment for your young racers – a general purpose saddle will be fine, and you will need a breast plate and an over girth.
For the jockeys they will need safety stirrups, and half chaps and jodhpur boots will do fine. They should have their preferred colors to wear though, and you may even wish to deck the pony out in the same finery. As with all public horse events, your pony will need to be up to date with his vaccinations and have certificates to prove it, and you will need to have both him and the rider insured.
Many clubs also offer the chance to take part in training days, or even residential camps, to learn more about the world of racing in an intensive fashion. At a residential, all participants will start with the basics at Level 1, and move onto Level 2. If, after this, your little jockey wants to go further, they can take part in a Level 3 course, which when completed allows the rider and their pony to enter a Point To Point pony race.
You will find that wherever you take your young future race track star, that the focus is on the safety and well being of the rider and the pony, so you won’t ever have to worry that they are being taken out of their depth or put into harm’s way. This sport is about encouraging the younger generation, not putting them off racing for life!
Getting into pony racing is great fun for kids, especially those who have already discovered the thrill of going fast! The training is fun, and includes things like space hoppers for balance training, and other new and innovative ways of training. How to start pony racing can open up a whole new world for the little jockey in your life, and who knows – it might even start a long and lucrative career.