Fifty years in the saddle

Yass Pony Club held a successful gymkhana recently to commemorate its 50th anniversary. Over 50 riders travelled from within zone 16 and also from further afield to attend the day.

Every rider was given a special gold 50th ribbon to mark the occasion and it was great to see all riders in the main arena for Best Presented Club on Parade. Burra took home the trophy this year. There was a birthday cake as well and it was wonderful to hear over 100 voices sing happy birthday to Yass Pony Club. The day began with ring classes and showjumping, with the famous Yass obstacle course running throughout the morning. The lunchtime fancy dress was a highlight, with some commenting it was the best turnout they had ever seen. The afternoon also consisted of games which everyone enjoyed.

 Anniversary dinner

A full house was treated to an enjoyable evening at the Yass Golf Club on Saturday night when the Yass Pony Club celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was a night of learning and laughs, as everyone listened to the guest speakers and then shared some stories of their own. Our own Jenny Sheppard spoke about her beginnings at Yass Pony Club at age seven on her dear pony Smokey, and how she has gone on to be a highly respected national competitor, mentor for current international equestrian athletes, trainer, horse breeder and advisor to national organisations including the Sydney Olympic Committee.

Stuart Williams, our local vet, hosted the evening and kept everyone entertained with his travels through the crowd searching for lively candidates who would share their funny memories of the pony club.

Stuart’s father, David, presented some very precious history, recounting the days when Pony Club first began in Australia at the hands of his own father, Charles Douglas Williams, Stuart’s grandfather. Charles fought in World War I, serving with the Seventh Light Horse, and some years later on his return settled in Merriwa in the Hunter Valley. He soon realised there was little in the area to entertain the children and set about to organise the town’s first Sports and Gymkhana Day in 1945 (a slide of this very first program was a highlight of David’s presentation). The next year, in 1946, Charles was instrumental in drawing up a constitution to form Australia’s first pony club, named the Merriwa Pony Club. David recited to the dinner guests the aims and objectives of the Pony Club from its constitution.

The Yass Pony Club would like to thank the speakers for making the event such a memorable one, all the dinner guests for attending and participating in this historic event (some travelling significant distances), the Yass Golf Club’s Nathan Philpott and chef Jonathan Edwards for a fabulous venue and catering, Skye Silcock from Love Photography for her graphic design services and the Yass Pony Club committee for their hard work.

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