In this series, the United States Eventing Association (USEA) is partnering with Athletux to bring you business tips from top eventing riders and coaches. Do you have a business question you’d like to see addressed by an eventing professional? Email us at [email protected].
Building a strong lesson program can be a great boost to any eventing business. A riding school that complements the training and show program can provide a steady stream of training horses and competitive riders as the riders learn and become addicted to the sport. Creating the perfect environment for your lesson program can be challenging; you want a team atmosphere, where your riders root for each other and are always willing to lend a hand. You also want serious students who want to learn about horsemanship as much as they want to jump everything in sight. Managing to run a fun barn with a serious side when it comes to horse care is the tightrope most trainers find themselves walking.
Auburn Excell Brady of Excell Equestrian in San Juan Capistrano, California has found a solution in the form of a group you’re probably familiar with, the United States Pony Club (USPC). Adding a Pony Club chapter to your barn can be a great supplement to an already developed lesson program, and for programs that just beginning, a recognizable group like Pony Club can only help to promote your business as reputable and well-rounded. Excell Brady decided to bring Pony Club into her businesses, knowing what the program could bring to the table. “I wasn’t able to be a part of Pony Club as a kid, but I saw the benefits through a friend who rode with a local chapter. I was able to attend a meeting with her and I was hooked. When it was time for me to start my own program I remembered how badly I’d wanted to be a part of Pony Club as a kid and I knew it was something I wanted to offer.”
Collaborating with an established group like Pony Club adds a strong emphasis in horse care to a lesson program, which Excell Brady thinks is an important aspect of riding for all young equestrians to focus on. “Their curriculum is so focused on the horse care, and the horsemanship aspect is so pivotal to a rider’s development. Especially for a child that might not own a horse, the Club really gives the kids the opportunities to be around horses and be responsible for their well being in ways that weekly riding lessons can’t do.”
Besides the obvious enhancements to a rider’s education, Excell Brady also has noted the benefits Pony Club has on riders mentally and emotionally. “Riding and competing with horses is an individual sport in a lot of ways. It’s good for kids to learn the teamwork and cooperation that sports like soccer and basketball require. The cool thing about Pony Club is it gives horse crazy kids an opportunity to experience working on a team while still being at the barn and getting all those benefits: the responsibility, compassion, and work ethic that go hand and hand with riding.” Combining the positives of both types of sports creates well-rounded athletes who have all the independence of cross-country runners with the communication skills of a volleyball player.
Not only is adding Pony Club good for your students in general, the decision is also great for business. “Pony Club is nationally recognized, so being associated with them definitely lends some credibility to a program. Of course, there are a lot of factors a family looks for when choosing a lesson barn, but I have received countless inquiries because of our Club,” Excell Brady said. “People look for that affiliation. Parents love the focus on safety, kids really like all the opportunities to go out and compete and meet other young riders. It really helps bring in business as well as give you opportunities to grow and promote yourself and your business.”
Growing your business through Pony Club doesn’t mean just bringing in new clients, establishing solid business relationships is also an important aspect of the network of Pony Clubs. “When you go to a rally you might need to fill in some riders here or there, and meeting new coaches and visiting their farms is a really great way to build your reputation and get involved in the community where you are. The people involved are all incredibly welcoming and eager to help. Starting my club was a process where I felt so much support from other nearby clubs, it never felt like a competitive group. We all know that the more good clubs there are the better off the entire sport is, it’s a really refreshing feeling knowing we’re all on the same team in the end,” Excell Brady said.
Excell Brady notes that becoming certified with Pony Club as a riding center isn’t an overnight development, but states that the registration process is more than worth it. “I would highly recommend starting a Club if you can. The process is outlined on the USPC website and your other local Club sponsors will surely be willing to answer any questions you might have. I’m incredibly grateful I have the opportunity to be involved with Pony Club and offer it’s benefits to my students.”
For more information on becoming a United States Pony Club Center, visit the USPC website.
Auburn Excell Brady is an upper level rider and trainer based out of San Juan Capistrano, California. Her lesson program and Pony Club are important aspects to her business. To learn more about Auburn, her riding program, and Pony Club visit her website.
Pan Am Games team gold medalist Tamra Smith and Mai Baum and five-star pairs Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 and Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin headline a strong Advanced field when Twin Rivers begins an exciting season of eventing competition this weekend.
The USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) and Young Event Horse (YEH) programs have around 30 qualifying competitions each, and youngsters around the country are about to begin their seasons aimed at Championships.
As the season begins to turn, the temperature begins to drop, turnout time becomes more limited, schedules shift to accommodate the waning daylight and the possibility for a colicky horse increases. While the exact environmental causes of colic are not well understood, a commonly accepted theory is that any abrupt changes to a horse’s environment or schedule can increase the risk of colic.