The A Test Reunion gave Test holders the opportunity to share their experiences since gaining the qualification, and observe coaching sessions hosted by two Olympic riders.
Proceedings began with a Gala Dinner, where guests enjoyed a speech from Pony Club stalwart Angela Ellis who passed her A Test in 1948. Angela talked about her days as a Pony Club Member and her long standing position as Secretary of the Crawley & Horsham Hunt Branch; a role she began 67 years ago.
Bestselling author, world renowned breeder and coach William Micklem FBHS was guest speaker and thrilled the audience with his entertaining stories. William talked about his time in The Pony Club where, trained by his father, he passed his A Test with Honours and qualified for The Pony Club Championships on three occasions. William also spoke about how important The Pony Club is for laying the foundations of riding and horsemanship, and stressed the need for all A Test holders to be generous and involved in inspiring young riders.
The Gala Dinner was attended by nineteen year old Flora Campbell who achieved her A Test just two weeks ago. Flora commented: “I have met so many incredible people with such great stories! Everyone was so enthusiastic about The Pony Club and the opportunities it has given to so many generations.” Flora continued to say she was inspired to see how many places the A Test can lead you, and that she is excited about her future.
Celebrations continued the following day at Addington Manor Equestrian Centre, where Richard Davison (four-time Olympian, European Medallist and A Test holder) and John Ledingham (Olympian and celebrated International Coach) worked with A Test holders to demonstrate how to apply the basic principles throughout dressage and jumping levels, how to structure training sessions to improve way of going and how to prepare for competition.
Rachael Clark, who passed her A Test in 2010, rode Wilhemina II in a Dressage session with Richard Davison. Rachael commented: “I gained a great deal from the coaching, and learnt some very simple training methods which will be useful for my training going forwards. Richard presented his processes and ideas clearly which was really helpful.”
Over 200 guests joined in the celebrations across the two days, including members of the Slinn family who have a long affiliation with the A Test. Wynford Slinn passed his A Test in 1966 at 20 years old and Jenny, who later became his wife, passed in 1967 at 19 years old. Their daughters Debby and Emma were active Pony Club Members and both also hold their A Tests.
Also present were sisters Shelagh, Shonagh and Catriona Steven who were all active Members of The Pony Club from a young age. They passed their A Tests in 1994, 1997 and 2001 respectively, and have since carved out successful careers within the equine industry. They say The Pony Club was essential in helping them to develop a wide range of skills which continues to benefit them today; both in their work and competitive lives.
William Blane FBHS, Chairman of Pony Club Training, said: “I am delighted that the A Test Reunion brought together so many Test holders, several of whom went on to fulfil equestrian careers at the highest level after gaining this qualification. Guests came from as far away as Sudan which highlights what a special and unique gathering the A Test Reunion was.”
The Pony Club are keen to continue compiling photos and stories from A Test holders, so if you passed your A Test we want to hear from you! Please email [email protected] for more information.