The United States Pony Clubs, Inc., establishes Standards of Proficiency within the framework of the international Pony Club movement as the educational curriculum for a program of instruction and evaluation of its members for certifications in three primary areas: Horse Management, On the Flat, and Over Fences. The USPC Standards of Proficiency provide a core curriculum for individualized instruction. The Standards describe a clear progression of skills in riding and Horse Management. The Standards also provide opportunities for goal setting, as members are encouraged to proceed through those skills at a pace that is comfortable for them.
Clubs and Centers use the Standards of Proficiency as a plan for instruction programs. Therefore, certification tests are an evaluation of the members' progress through the rating levels. At the same time, USPC stresses that the certification tests should be a positive educational experience. Certifications are designed to encourage the candidate to "show and tell" what he or she knows.
Riding is a hobby, something to do for fun! Ratings are given in an effort to recognize achievement and encourage USPC members to gain confidence, independence and good safety habits while working with mounts. Goal setting, teaching and testing are good ways to accomplish this purpose.
The Standards of Proficiency describe the specific requirements for each level. A USPC member is ready for a certification test if he or she is able to perform the requirements for that level in a supervised teaching situation. After meeting standards at a certification, a member may or may not be ready to attempt skills required at the next certification level. If not, he or she continues to receive instruction appropriate to the earlier level until a greater degree of proficiency is achieved.
The following is a brief overview of each level:
The D-Levels offer an introduction to the fun and challenge of riding, establishing a foundation of safety habits and knowledge of the daily care of a mount and related equipment. The D-level Horse Management focuses on acquiring the knowledge and skills related to care and ground handling of the mount.
The D level-member may also learn and be evaluated on riding independently on the lat, with control, maintaining a reasonably secure position at the walk, trot and canter. In addition, the D-level members may choose to learn and be evaluated while riding their mounts over low fences. All D certificates are awarded at the club/center level.
The C1 and C2 Levels are for the Pony Club member learning to become an active horseman, to care independently for his/her mount and tack, and to understand the reasons for what he or she is doing with the mount while either mounted or unmounted. Similar to the D-level, the C1 and C2 levels focus on advancement and evaluation of Horse Management skills as well as show development towards a secure, independent seat and increasing control and confidence in all phases of riding, lat and/or jumping. The C1 and C2 certificates are awarded at the club/center level.
These levels are facilitated on a national basis and require a greater depth of knowledge and proficiency than the earlier ratings. Successful candidates are competent, all-around horsemen, active and contributing members of USPC, who participate in a variety of Pony Club activities. They are also thoughtful leaders who set an example for all levels.
The HB certification covers Horse Management knowledge that demonstrates increasing knowledge and competence in the care and handling of horses. Candidates will be able to take the HB rating either before or after completing the C3. A member completing a C3 riding test before passing the HB is called a C+ until the HB is passed.
The H-HM/H/HA Certification requires the knowledge, experience and maturity to evaluate and care for a mount’s needs efficiently and in a variety of circumstances, to competently ground train horses; and to teach riding and horse care to others. It reflects the theory and study as well as the practical aspects of unmounted horse management that can be expected of a college curriculum. The minimum age for the H-H-M/H/H-A certification is 16 years old.
Please refer to the HB / HA Standards
At the national level, Pony Club members may choose to follow one or all of three riding tracks. They are: Traditional, Show Jumping or Dressage
The C3 Certification reflects a basis of competence in riding, ground schooling, and horse care that will make possible a lifetime of pleasure with horses. The certification has both demonstration and discussion components. It is the first of the riding certifications to evaluate a member’s ability to seamlessly transfer their riding skills from their own horse to an unknown horse. If the C3 riding test is passed before the HB, the member becomes a C+. The minimum age for the C-3 certification is 13 years old.
The B Certification is for the active horseman and Pony Club member who is interested in acquiring further knowledge and proficiency in riding and horse care. The B is able to ride experienced mounts with confidence and control. The B should be able to ride and care for another person's experienced mount, maintaining proper mental and physical condition without undoing any of the mount's education. The B understands and is able to explain the reasons for what he or she is doing and to contribute to the education of younger Pony Club members.
The A Certification is the highest riding certification available to members. The A is able to ride mounts at various levels of schooling with judgment, tact and effectiveness; to train young mounts; and to retrain spoiled mounts. Like the C3 and the B, the A understands and is able to explain the reasons for what he or she is doing as well as demonstrate the skills required. The A understands and demonstrates a variety of training techniques and discusses their training techniques as a trainer. The minimum age requirement to take the A certification is 16 years old.