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Next Step in the Evolution of Pony Club Coaching

Pony Club Australia has developed a new education and training course for Preliminary coaches.

The new PCANCAS Preliminary Coach course is aligned with the PCA rider syllabus and brings together a range of material produced since the launch of the new PCA rider syllabus in September 2019.

The new Course Outline has been structured around the format used by the Australian Skills Quality Authority and has been developed in association with state Pony Club Association representatives working on the Pony Club Australia Coaching Advisory Council.

The course outline available on the PCA website will guide candidates on the course content and assessment requirements.

PCA recognises that horse riding is a unique sport that involves teaching riders, training horses and teaching riders how to train and care for horses. Pony Club coaches require a broad skill set to teach riders pursuing a large number of different horse sports, from beginners to high level competitors, and in a group teaching environment. They need to manage the physical and mental safety of riders as well as horses.

To help Pony Club coaches meet these challenges with confidence and enthusiasm, the Preliminary Coach course includes resources adapted from Sport Australia, such as teaching older riders and teaching indigenous riders. It also includes recent advances in veterinary understandings of horses’ digestive systems and how horses express pain or comfort.

“We are confident that our new Preliminary Coach course will increase the effectiveness of coaches, the performance of riders and the welfare of horses around Australia”, PCA Participation and Development Manager Dr Kirrilly Thompson said.

The mentor system, and coach networks at the zone and state level, are important parts to support PCANCAS candidates.

“Pony Club is the grass roots of equestrian sport in Australia and our coaches are central to the aims of Pony Club to develop safe and competent riders who are also knowledgeable horse people”, Kirrilly said.

PCA is increasing the amount of online education content for riders and coaches to make it available to our members across Australia and work is in progress on the PCANCAS Level 1 Coach course. Kirrilly explained that “COVID19 has made the need for flexibility content delivery apparent, but the mentor system, and coach networks at the zone and state level, will always remain important parts of the support we provide to PCANCAS candidates”.

What’s new in the PCANCAS 2021 Preliminary Coach Qualification?

The 2021 PCANCAS Preliminary Coach Manual contains the following updates:

Pony Club Coaching

  • The history of Pony Club in Australia
  • How to motivate young people
  • Explaining and self-monitoring for coaching bias
  • Identifying the needs of older riders
  • Identifying the needs of Indigenous riders.

Risk Management

  • Tools for estimating and mitigating risk
  • Incident reporting
  • Knowing how to manage a horse exhibiting flight response
  • Knowing a loose horse-protocol.

Horse Care

  • Recognising and interpreting horse body language (previously recognising aggression)
  • Hosing the hot horse
  • Knowing how to use the six-point body scoring chart to evaluate a horse’s condition
  • Recognising signs of pain in horses
  • Using a taper gauge to check noseband fit
  • Understanding the five freedoms
  • Knowing how to take the horse’s vital signs
  • Knowing how to make scientifically informed decisions about rugging horses
  • Fitting, storage, maintenance and care of rugs
  • Understanding the importance of horses as grazing animals.

Horse Riding and Training

  • Knowing how to respond to a horse that stops or runs out
  • Understanding and explaining the concept of self-carriage
  • Communicating position corrections to riders in an effective manner
  • Giving a basic description of Equitation Science
  • Knowing the main traits of horses and explaining and identifying their flight response
  • Knowing the 10 Equitation Science principles of training
  • Explaining pressure-release training (negative reinforcement)
  • Explaining reward training (positive reinforcement)
  • Explaining punishment and why it should be avoided
  • Explaining habituation
  • Explaining the importance of safe groundwork and what that entails
  • Knowing Positions 1 and 2 for conducting groundwork
  • Knowing the aids for the first three foundation responses on the ground
  • Knowing some exercises for teaching the first three foundation responses on the ground
  • Understanding why ‘following’ should be discouraged
  • Explaining how to use the whip as a training tool and not as a form of punishment
  • Being familiar with the Equitation Science training scale.

Alongside these additions, some sections have been removed from the PCANCAS Preliminary Coach Qualification and will be integrated into the PCANCAS Level 1 Coach Qualification, including but not limited to: removing a shoe, weighing a horse, and advanced arena figures and tracks which are not required for teaching riders up to and including D*.

Download the PCA Preliminary Coaching Course Outline here. 

Learn more about the PCA syllabus

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