OGDEN -- A group of local kids are on their way to Lexington, Ky., to spend a grueling two weeks competing in a national horsemanship competition.
The kids, all from the Wasatch Pony Club, left Saturday to compete in several categories, including dressage, eventing, show jumping, mounted games, tetrathlon and polocrosse.
Every three years, the United States Pony Club Festival is held at the Kentucky Horse Park, said Lisa Arbogast, whose daughter Olivia is a member of the Wasatch Pony Club. Riders have to be 10 years old to compete.
"I was involved with horses growing up, and this is better than anything I did as a kid," Arbogast said. "I think this is really important for kids, because it helps them to grow up and be competent, capable, fantastic citizens in our society."
Arbogast said not only do the kids compete, they also learn to care for their horses.
"They have to learn all about their animal," she said. "They have to know how to take its temperature and respirations during competitions, they have to know the parts of the horse, the different colors, what kind of parasites can attack their horse, what types of injuries they can suffer, what vaccinations they need."
Arbogast said during a competition, if there's not enough drinking water for the horse, the kids get docked.
"They are very strict and really promote responsibility in the kids," she said. "Being in the pony club is also a great way for kids to earn scholarships and develop healthy wholesome activities. I would like to see more kids join. The Wasatch Pony Club is actually the oldest pony club in Utah."
According to the United States Pony Club's website, clubs across the world were organized by a group of fox hunters desiring structured programs that would teach children the love of equestrian sports in addition to caring for the animals.
"Pony Club kids are often recruited for the Olympics," Arbogast said. "It's just a great opportunity for children.
"It's a lot of work, but the reward is being able to do things like this. The kids are making a tremendous commitment by leaving their homes for two weeks and going back to this competition. We hope more kids will get involved. This isn't just a rich kid's sport. It's a sport for all kids."