April 15, 1996 in Nation/World

Pony Club Breaks The Ice Two Dozen Young Riders Display Their Skills In Spring Show At Interstate Fairgrounds

By The Spokesman-Review

Carey Homan’s parents held their breath when their 11-year-old daughter fell three times from her horse.

Each time, they watched their tow-haired fourth-grader climb on her horse, Ali, to finish the ride.

“I know this kid likes to ride. Anyone who gets back up after three falls must love what she’s doing,” said Carey’s mom, Lou Homan.

Riding thrills definitely outnumbered the spills Sunday during the Spokane Pony Club’s spring “Icebreaker” at the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds.

The club, now in its third year, hosts the annual show to help horses and riders shake off winter dust and test their muscles.

About two dozen young members - most of them girls - took part, along with another 20 show jump-riders who use the event to get ready for serious competitions over the next three months.

Sunday’s program ranged from basic dressage - guiding a horse over a flat course - to three types of jumping.

“I must have pulled my head down to look at the ground,” Carey said later, after finishing her bruising morning “hunters” competition - a series of hurdle jumps - in the fairgrounds arena.

Her parents said Carey joined the 25-member Pony Club last year at the urging of a family friend.

Considered the equivalent of a 4-H group for riders, the club has hundreds of chapters across the country. Members ride ponies and horses - the difference being a pony stands 14-1/4 hands tall or smaller. A hand, the traditional measure for horses, is four inches in length.

In Carey’s case, she’s been riding horses since she was 4 years old, or about seven hands tall.

“This was her first real competition with Ali. I’m sure that’s why they had a little trouble,” Lou Homan said after her daughter ended her ride.

“What the club provides is a complete package, helping her with riding skills. They also emphasize safety and animal grooming,” the mother said.

“All I know is, her tack has never been so clean before, and she’s grooming her horse like it’s important.”

Riding has been a popular activity in the Spokane area for generations, and it seems to be going through a growth spurt, said riding instructor Gary Striker.

He started teaching riding in 1990, when he and only one other teacher were in the phone book. Now there are five, with each getting more than a dozen riders interested in skills either for pleasure or show.

“People need groups like the Pony Club,” said Striker. “This is a sport and it has do be done safely. They emphasize athletic conditioning of the animal and careful instruction for the rider.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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