Horse clubs are the place to be if you own a horse or are planning on purchasing your first horse. The benefits to equine owners are numerous. Whether you are into jumping, horse shows, driving competitions or trail riding there is bound to be an equestrian club in your area that supports your riding interests.
Most every horse show, every Rodeo, every gymkhana, every trail trial or dressage competition is hosted by a local horse club. If there is a horse event in your town it is likely being supported by a local horse club.
The great thing about a horse club is that it is very locally oriented. You meet and ride with your neighbors and build a real sense of community.
Different clubs offer different advantages, but they all have something wonderful to share. They are a vibrant part of any community. Here are a few examples of the variety of clubs in my small Northern California area. You are likely to find clubs very similar to these in your area as well.
Pony and Pals hosted our local gymkhanas and play days. It was the club to belong to if you wanted to learn how to do barrel racing. They also rode in the Pony Express Days parade and hosted the Pony Express Race (a town favorite), which was great fun as a kid!
Our local horse 4-H group offers scads of hands on riding lessons with the kids to develop their skills. They tackle obstacle courses, learn good hand/feet/seat position, learn about good saddle fit and prepare for a year end horse show. Every year they offer something new. It’s a great confidence builder for kids and they get to do it with their peers.
NCHA is an equestrain club that used to focus mainly on trail rides but has since expanded its activities. It was through this club that I gained access to horse trails that I would otherwise not have been able to ride on. I took my first pack trip into the mountains via NCHA. The club hired professional packers to haul in all our gear for a 5 day pack trip. What a blast! Today they hold seminars with various trainers, riding events and trail rides too. At this time it is 18 years and over only. To join you must be sponsored by a member in good standing.
CSHA is a family oriented horse club that sponsors horse clinics, gymkhanas, play days, Jr. Rodeo events and all sorts of horse activities. They have been known to hold benefit rides for local families in need. This club has a strong membership and is a great place for grown-ups and kids to get involved with the local horse community.
The backbone of this club is to act as a political advocate for trail use for horsemen. This bunch is a hardcore outfit of back country packers and trail riders. They host work parties to improve trail heads and pack clinics to teach back country packing skills and educate the public about the use of stock on trials. They also host a phenomenal annual catered ride that attracts riders from far and wide. Riders rant and rave about the Tri tip and clam BBQs hosted by our local Backcountry Horsemen!
As the name implies, this horse club is all about endurance and trail riding. It is a family oriented club that caters to casual trail riders and those endurance riders who want to compete at the National level. They host 3 endurance rides annually with large numbers of horsemen attending.
Start with a local search on the web. This will turn up a few. All states have ‘State horse clubs’, like California State Horsemen’s Association. These clubs will then be divided into smaller regional groups. Once you find the main club’s website you can be directed to your local chapter.
Search for your local 4-H clubs via the internet or your child’s school. Many horse breed associations have club representations scattered throughout the states. Do an internet search for Rodeo and Jr. Rodeo associations. Look up Backcountry horsemen.
Some local (non-regional) clubs have names that you wouldn't know to search for. To find them check with local businesses like the Chamber of Commerce, feed stores, local farriers, local horse trainers, your large animal vet, local boarding stables and local fair grounds.
Horse clubs provide a wonderful resource for horse owners to get involved with other horsemen and expand their equine horizons. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and find a great club for you and your horse!
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