In January 2017, Covertside Online reported on Woodbrook Hunt Club member Kathryn Craig's performance at the United States Hunter Jumper Association Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals, where she earned the overall Silver Medal and the High Point Practicum Award. Craig continues to excel as a young leader and shares her experiences on the United States Pony Club (USPC) National Youth Board.
Craig, center in green, with some of her Pony Club peers. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Craig.
“The USPC National Youth Board serves to create a vital communication bridge between the USPC Board of Governors and the youth membership," explains USPC Executive Director Theresa Woods. "The NYB members play an important role in helping to shape the future of USPC. The member insights, ideas and proposals regarding important issues that the NYB bring forward to the USPC governing officers, distinguishes this group as not only future leaders, but leaders of today.”
Covertside Online: How long have you been involved with Pony Club? What disciplines have you participated in?
Craig: I joined Pony Club when I was 15 years old. I have been a member for seven years. I have participated in showjumping, dressage, tetrathlon, quiz and a small amount of polocrosse. Growing up without my own horse, quiz was my primary discipline. I focused on my horse management and teaching skills. I attended USPC quiz championships three times and the USHJA horsemanship quiz challenge.
Covertside Online: How did you decide to pursue becoming a Youth Board member? Are you elected or proposed by your DC? What are your responsibilities?
Craig: I have always been a very involved member in my region. I wanted to be a youth voice at the national level. This year I was able to work with the dedicated people who plan pony club championships. I applied for this position. It is available to members between the ages of 18-23 of any certification level. The National Youth Board has 24 members from across the country.
I am the chair of the Regional Youth Board committee. My committee and I work to support the formation and running of youth leadership groups within Pony Club regions across the country. I established and was chair of the Regional Youth Board in my region. This experience motivated me to help other groups across the country. As members of the National Youth Board, we each also write articles for the USPC magazine, attend the USPC annual convention, participate in an annual service project and we each sit on a larger committee.
A Pony Club project on the circle of Willis, part of the equine circulatory system. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Craig.
Covertside Online: Can you comment on the connection between your Pony Club experiences and your foxhunting experiences? Has one area prepared you to excel in the other? Are there skills that overlap between the two activities?
Craig: One of my past Pony Club instructors introduced me to the sport of foxhunting. My interest grew quickly. I became hooked on the Rita Mae Brown foxhunting novels. Soon after that, one of my friends attended the USPC foxhunting exchange in England. After hearing her story, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I was working at Woodbrook Hunt Club with my instructor, who at the time was the kennel master. In 2015, I attended the USPC international foxhunting exchange in Kentucky. There were four riders from each country; the US, Ireland and England. I had the time of my life and made amazing friends.
Since then I have been an active member in my hunt supporting youth members. I try to organize a pony club/ junior hunt every year. The past two years I have organized a North American Field Hunter championship qualifier for my hunt. My huntsman and masters have been training me as a staff member. I have been riding as a field master to second flight.
Covertside Online: What are the most valuable "life lessons" (beyond equitation or horsemanship knowledge) that you have gained both from USPC and from foxhunting?
Craig: Pony Club had taught me leadership skills, organizational skills, and has given me independence. Pony Club has shaped me as a person. Pony Club and foxhunting have given me the opportunity to travel all across the country. I have hunted on white sandy beaches and jumped stone walls in Massachusetts. And I spend my weekends riding through the forests and across prairies in Washington state. These my experiences have made memories that will last a lifetime. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
"Kathryn has become an integral part of my staff, she's always up for whatever we need her for," adds Woodbrook Hunt Club joint Master Melody Fleckenstein. "She is excellent as a field master at taming a boisterous group of juniors or instilling confidence in new members out for their first hunt. She can whip, help with laying the drag, and has been a big help with our new litter of puppies. I don't know what we'd do without her, we're very proud of her accomplishments!"