From their regional Pony Club to the world stage: Australia’s oldest and largest equine organisation helped shape the lives of our Olympic Equestrian Team.

Australia’s most elite athletes are in Tokyo, Japan, not just bringing home medals but testing their skills against the best of the best. Amongst these is the Australian Equestrian Team, which consists of riders who all began their careers at Pony Clubs around Australia.

The Tokyo Olympics lineup of riders cements the notion that Pony Club gives its participants the foundations they need to succeed. Why? Because the peak of success comes when an individual represents their country at the Olympic Games.

Australia’s Eventing Team riders bring home Team Gold and Individual Bronze: Shane Rose riding Virgil, Andrew Hoy riding Vassilsy de Lassos (Individual Bronze) and Kevin Mcnab riding Don Quidam. Image courtesy Equestrian Australia.

Standing on the Olympic podium with a medal (or two!) in hand is a dream that every young rider aspires to recreate. When the children across Australia who are watching the likes of Andrew Hoy, Mary Hanna, and Edwina Tops-Alexander compete realise their career began at their local Pony Club, the dream becomes possible.

“For over 80 years, Pony Club has been the starting point for Australian Olympians. It provides an environment to develop riding and horse care skills for future careers, including elite competition,” says Dr Catherine Ainsworth, Pony Club Australia CEO.

Team Silver and Individual Bronze at his 8th Olympic Games, Andrew Hoy riding Vassilsy de Lassos. Image courtesy Equestrian Australia. 

Andrew Hoy who began his days at Holbrook Pony Club, has made history becoming the first Australian athlete to compete at 8 Olympic Games. Here he with Davey, the horse he rode at his first Games, Los Angeles 1984.

Right across Australia, attending your local Pony Club has become somewhat a rite of passage for any horse-mad young rider. It is a place where budding equestrians can fine-tune their abilities, make connections and be taught the highest ideals of sportsmanship, citizenship and loyalty, thereby cultivating strength of character and self-discipline.

Australia-wide, there are over 800 active clubs and more than 40,000 members, which makes Pony Club the largest equestrian organisation in Australia, a testament to its educational and instructional programs.

“What a great institution – so many happy children and wonderful memories for over eight decades! I fondly remember my Pony Club days in Holbrook, and I am very much looking forward to the next generation of Hoys joining Pony Club too,” says three-time gold medalists and current Australian Olympian Andrew Hoy.

Australian Equestrian Olympian Shane Rose

Team Silver medallist in Tokyo riding Virgil (top), Shane Rose is seen here during a Pony Club summer camp.

Within the Olympics, there are three equestrian competitions: dressage, show-jumping and eventing. To become an Olympic equestrian involves a long road of dedication, a willingness to seek out sponsors, and a commitment to the sport that often feels more like a way of life. It takes an entire team to get one individual to these top competitions, including coaches, grooms and veterinarians. It also requires an enormous amount of money to get from your back paddock to the Olympic podium.

Knowing each rider began their long journey to success on the back of a horse at an Australian Pony Club will inspire a generation of future equestrians to follow in their footsteps. “The Pony Club community are cheering on the Aussie teams, who are an inspiration to our current members,” Dr Catherine Ainsworth added.

Here is where our Olympians started:

Andrew Hoy – Holbrook Pony Club
Shane Rose – Forest Hills Pony Club, Avondale Pony Club and others.
Kevin Mcnab – Malanda Pony Club
Stuart Tinney (reserve) – Calliope Hack and Pony Club

An image that includes Olympians Shane Rose (Eventing) and Edwina Tops Alexander (Show Jumping) who were members of the Avondale Pony Club. Image courtesy Pony Club Australia.

An image that includes Olympians Shane Rose (Eventing) and Edwina Tops Alexander (Show Jumping) members of the Avondale Pony Club. Image courtesy Pony Club Australia.

Mary Hanna – Nambour Pony Club
Simone Pearce – Bamawn Extension Pony Club
Kelly Lane – Tallebudgera Pony Club

Dreams come true! Australian Olympian Simone Pearce began her days at Bamawn Extension Pony Club and just represented Australia in Dressage with her horse Destano at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Image courtesy Pony Club Australia. 

Edwina Tops Alexander – Avondale Pony Club

Sharon Jarvis – Capel Horse and Pony Club
Emma Booth – Upper Pakenham Pony Club
Amelia White – Orange pony Club
Victoria Davies – Shoalhaven Pony Club