January 2019 - SoCal Regional Pony Club News: Rally Time!
Written by photos: Olivia Putrin
Thursday, 27 December 2018 22:44
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association news

New San Luis Rey Pony Club Riding Center knocks its first Rally out of the park.

photos: Olivia Putrin

Pony Club. These two words are synonymous with the growth and development of youth in equestrian sports and the organization itself is the largest equestrian organization in the world. Pony Club makes a huge impact on young equestrians every day, and when 4* event rider and coach, Olivia Putrino (formerly Loiacono) noticed there was a need for a Center in her area, she decided it would be a great addition to her program.


All seven teams - 2018 Eventing Rally at Copper Meadows.

Putrino grew up in Pony Club and recognizes the value of having a local center. Shortly after considering the formation of a new club near her, Putrino went to work forming the San Luis Rey Pony Club Riding Center. Less than a year later, the new club has already made notable accomplishments. Most recently, the newly formed club organized and ran the region’s Pony Club Eventing Rally, quite an achievement in itself.

Coach and rally host Olivia Loiacono-Putrino and team.

It was very meaningful to Putrino, and meant a huge deal to the young members as well. A great deal of planning goes into a regional rally, and after Putrino decided to take on the challenge, her first focus became the venue.

First timers at a Rally.

Luckily, the perfect venue seemingly fell into place and the rally was held at the famed Copper Meadows, one of the area’s premier eventing locations. Putrino organized the entire rally, “with help,” she pointed out.

Sissy Sugarman, high point dressage, green division.

Putting on a rally is no easy feat, let alone your first one after only running a Center for less than a year. Putrino gave credit to many people including Fallbrook Pony Club’s Scott Dewald, who helped guide her through the process. The rally hosted multiple clubs with riders ranging from riders at the D level competing in the starter division for the first time to C1’s competing at Training level.

Newport Mesa Pony Club Riding Center - Coached by Brian and Lisa Sabo.

One of those special participants was Sissy Sugarman, a 17-year-old member of the San Luis Rey Pony Club Riding Center. The rally was Sugarman’s first in two years and she competed at the Training level alongside her team members.

Fallbrook Pony Club - Coached at Rally by Taren Hoffos.

“Olivia put on the rally and I could not be more grateful. It was such a positive experience for everyone and I had an amazing time,” expressed Sugarman. She added, “It ran smoothly, was super organized, and most importantly we all learned so much and had fun!”

Riverhills & Fallbrook Pony Clubs - Coached at Rally by Taren Hoffos.

Parents could also be heard saying how amazing the rally was throughout the entire event, although in typical Pony Club fashion, they weren’t allowed in the barns. “It was so incredible to see all these kids learn and grow so much over the weekend. Whether it be learning how to jog, braiding, taking care of their horse 110% by themselves, or even running a vet box, rallies are so beneficial,” Putrino added. “It really made it all worth it watching these kids grow and support their teammates no matter what.”

Abby Huth - 1st place with team and youngest rider award.

Stand Out Moments

While the entire rally was amazing, there were definitely a few moments that stood out for Putrino and Sugarman alike. Sugarman highlighted being able to mentor some of the younger girls on her team in addition to competing herself. “I had two first timers on my team and it was so cool to see everything through their eyes. To be able to teach them about everything from managing your time to the little parts of horse management that make a huge difference, it all meant so much to me. To be able to do it in such a positive setting was amazing,” she detailed. “I remember my first rally and how nervous I was so I just really tried to help them in any way I could. It was super positive and I think we all were able to grow as horsewomen and as riders!”

Macy Chrisholm - Best Attitude and team first

For Putrino, besides seeing all the smiles throughout the week, she highlighted how amazing all the sponsors were and how special they made the kids feel. “Professional’s Choice donated shaped saddle pads and grooming totes, Equi In Style donated Youth COOL Shirts, Grand Meadows donated jackets and a one month supply of Grand Premium Plus, and finally Equissage donated saddle pads and hats- quite the line-up,” explained Putrino. “These kids felt like real stars and it is a testament to everyone who helped make this happen,” she added.

Peyton Hayatian - high point dressage, blue division.

While Putrino oversaw the event, she credits so many others who helped ensure the event was a success. “Taren Hoffos at Copper Meadows was so amazing and let us run the event alongside her Sun Series show which allowed us to piggyback off everything from the rings, to the courses, and even the volunteers,” explained Putrino. “I also had the incredible help of Carly Deskovick who co-hosted the rally with the Ramona Vicente Pony Club. Without them, this rally would definitely not have happened!”

Overall, the first Pony Club Rally hosted by the San Luis Rey Pony Club Riding Center, alongside Deskovick and the Ramona Vicente Pony Club was a resounding success. Not only was it special for the organizers, but it was also extremely special to the participants.

Ramona Vicente Pony Club - Coached by Carly Deskovick.

Kicking On!

Outside of the rally’s success, her riding center is also expanding and Putrino is looking forward to watching it and its members grow over the upcoming year. Her riding center offers the option for members to use their own horses or use one of the Center’s school horses, making it the perfect opportunity for anyone to become involved whether they have a horse or not.

San Luis Rey Pony Club Riding Center - Coached by Olivia Loiacono-Putrino

Need another reason to get your son or daughter involved in Pony Club? Just listen to Sugarman explain why she became involved and why it is meaningful to her. “I really just loved being around the horses and I really appreciate how Pony Club teaches you to do everything from start to finish. It is really hard but really worth it,” she said. “These horses work so hard for us and to learn how to take care of my horse in the best way possible is just another way I feel I can thank them for all that they do for me. Pony Club is all about putting your horse first and there is so much integrity involved. It is honestly just so perfect,” Sugarman concluded.

If you want to sign your daughter or son up for Pony Club or get involved, visit the national Pony Club website (www.ponyclub.org) to find a center in your area. If Putrino’s is nearest to you, you may even find yourself riding in this very rally next year!

Article provided by Olivia Putrino of San Luis Rey Pony Club Riding Center.