Mission Valley

About Mission Valley

The United States Pony Clubs, Inc., develops character, leadership, confidence and a sense of community in youth through a program that teaches the care of horses and ponies, riding and mounted sports.

Mission Valley . . . an Introduction

Mission Valley Pony Club was founded in 1956 and is the oldest American club west of the Mississippi. Today, MVPC continues to be a thriving and active club with members of virtually all ages, levels of riding ability, and knowledge of horsemanship. Our club includes children as young as seven, who do not yet own their own horse, teenagers who are competing and winning at the highest levels nationally, members who focus primarily on the study of horsemanship rather than competitive riding, and still others who are most interested in meeting other young people who share their passion for horses and having fun.

Mission Valley members compete in dressage, show jumping, eventing (dressage, cross country and show jumping), mounted games (team relay races on horseback) and tetrathlon (running, swimming, shooting and show jumping) at Pony Club rallies. Many members also compete in some of these same disciplines outside of Pony Club. And some love foxhunting, trail riding, or the western disciplines. A few of our families keep horses in boarding facilities, but the majority keep and care for their horses at home. Many, but not all, of our parents ride, and some even compete alongside their children. For some of our members, equestrian sports are the primary focus of their lives, while for others, horses are just one interest among many. 

Because of our wide variety of ages, abilities and interests, as well as our long history, which has resulted in numerous accomplished alumni, one of Mission Valley's greatest strengths lies in collaborative learning, which we use alongside formal instruction. Older members teach the younger, and parents teach children. Knowledgeable alumni with an interest in and talent for instruction make guest appearances. Members with expertise and mastery in a particular area teach beginning riders or those who specialize in other disciplines, and members with difficult ponies or horses can count on more experienced riders in the club to help. The Mission Valley Pony Club community also includes veterinarians, master farriers, and other professionals who often donate their time for the benefit of our members.

If you are interested in our club, please begin by taking the time to read the Commonly Asked Questions page below. Then, feel free to call us. We would love to meet you!  

Mission Valley . . .Commonly Asked Questions


Question: How old does my child need to be to join Mission Valley Pony Club?

Answer:  Mission Valley recommends children be at least five years old before considering membership in Pony Club. After the age of five, parents need to consider whether their child is ready in other ways. For example, children should be interested in horses and horse care and ready to participate in group activities.

Question: How much does Mission Valley Pony Club cost?

Answer:  The current new member fee for Mission Valley Pony Club is $300. Part of this fee is sent to our national organization, part is sent to our region, and the remainder stays with our club for costs such as new member materials. New members receive a manual, pin, binder with informational materials for children and parents, a tote bag to bring to meetings, and a polo shirt with our club logo. Renewing members pay significantly less in yearly fees than new members.

In addition to club fees, parents must provide an approved helmet and appropriate footwear for their child to wear while riding. And, while many Pony Club meetings are free, some involve paid instructors, so families may be asked to pay a small fee (usually $10) to offset that cost. And, competitive Pony Club events, such as rallies, require entry fees that are paid by families, not the club. 

Question: We don't own a horse. Can my child still join and participate?

Answer:  Children do not have to own a pony or a horse to be a member of Pony Club, but they must have access to one. The amount of access required depends on your child’s goals. If your child is mainly interested in learning about horses and how to care for them, he or she will not need a horse as often as a child who intends to compete in mounted competitions. Sometimes MVPC families arrange to borrow ponies from each other in exchange for a fee ($25). However, these arrangements must be worked out privately between families, and are not orchestrated by the club itself.

Above all, MVPC encourages families not to rush when considering the purchase or lease of a horse.  Horse ownership is a serious commitment requiring a great deal of thought, knowledge and planning. If you are in the market for a horse or pony for your child, Pony Clubs are a great partner in your decision making process. Pony Club parents have often been through the horse shopping and purchasing process multiple times, and they are a wealth of information. If you are unsure, or do not have a background in horses, contact a local club for advice and guidance. We are all happy to help!

Question: We have a horse but no trailer. How can we participate?

Answer:  Often families can arrange to trailer together if they are coming from the same area.  It is customary to pay the family trailering your horse a fee ($15) as a contribution toward trailering costs. Again, this must be arranged privately between families, and is not a club function.

Question: What types of horses or ponies are allowed at Pony Club?

Answer:  Children may participate with any type of horse or pony suitable for their skill level.  Horses and ponies must be at least five years old to come to Pony Club.  Stallions and mares with foals at their sides are not allowed.

Question: My child already takes lessons from a trainer. How will this work with Pony Club?

Answer:  The instruction and other activities offered through Pony Club are intended to compliment and support, not replace, private instruction. Mission Valley recommends all members who wish to improve their riding receive instruction outside of Pony Club from a person of their choice.

Question: How much time is involved?

Answer:  Membership in Pony Club is a significant time commitment, for children and families.  Mounted meetings take place as often as twice a month, and each meeting can last several hours. In addition, rallies, clinics, camp, and other fun events are offered numerous times a year.  Though families are certainly not required or expected to participate in every activity, MVPC does expect families to remain reasonably active in club events throughout the calendar year.

In order to make Pony Club work, each child must be accompanied by a family member or guardian who remains with them during meetings. Regardless of their preexisting knowledge of horses, every parent has a valuable role to play in the life of the club. We hope parents joining with little or no knowledge of horses will learn alongside their children, and parents with experience or expertise will contribute accordingly. Only if all parents contribute can the club accomplish the many tasks required for a meeting to run smoothly. And, during our busy Fall Season, when fundraisers and labor intensive events such as camp, certifications, cross country schoolings and shows take place, parents are expected to volunteer for at least some of these important activities even if their child is not participating.

Question: What is a Rally?

Answer:  A rally is a competitive event for Pony Club members. Club members compete in teams of four or five against teams from other clubs in their region.  A rally can be unmounted, such as Quiz Rally (a knowledge based event) or mounted, such as Eventing Rally, Games Rally, or Mega Rally (dressage, show jumping, tetrathlon, eventing).  At mounted rallies, competitors are judged on their performance both in the show ring and in the barns, as they are expected to properly care for their horses and equipment largely without help from parents. Children without horses can still attend mounted rallies as stable managers, who are critical members of each team. Most rallies in our region last more than one day.

Question: What is a typical Mission Valley meeting like?

Answer:  Mounted meetings are usually held at one of our partner facilities, which include High Point Farms, Chaps Equestrian Center, and Longview Horse Park. We also occasionally meet at members' homes. Members arrive, groom their horses, tack up (with the help of parents and other club members if necessary), and receive a safety check before mounting their horse or pony. Members are grouped by riding level, not age, and participate in a group lesson with an instructor. Lessons may focus on dressage, jumping, or mounted games.  During the lesson, families have the opportunity to discuss club business and upcoming events.  After the lesson, children will sometimes enjoy a trail ride while cooling out their horses. Once the meeting is concluded, children usually enjoy a snack and then tidy up the property before leaving.

At an unmounted meeting, children may participate in a wide variety of activities, such as listening to a presentation by a veterinarian or farrier on a particular topic, studying for Quiz Rally, preparing tack trunks for competition, or working together on a club project.  

Question: Are there other Pony Clubs in the area? How do I know which club is best for my child?

Answer:  Three other great Pony Clubs draw members from the same general geographic area as Mission Valley - Mill Creek Pony Club (http://millcreek.ponyclub.org) SouthWind Pony Club (https://www.facebook.com/SouthWindPonyClub/) and Horse and Hound Pony Club (http://horseandhoundponyclub.blogspot.com).  Other clubs can be found by consulting our national website at http://www.ponyclub.org

All clubs are different! Differences usually derive from a combination of the club's history, current leadership, and current membership.

  • Clubs have varying resources, and those particular resources may or may not suit your family's specific needs. For example, some clubs are closely affiliated with a home barn, or a hunt club, or a horse park, while others may have great access to a top trainer. 
  • Clubs place different degrees of emphasis on the various Pony Club disciplines. For example, some clubs are very active in mounted games, while others have several members who most enjoy huntseat, western, or fox hunting. These levels of interest among members and historical emphasis by a club will affect your child's experience.
  • Currently and historically, Mission Valley emphasizes the three disciplines associated with the Three Day Event, which are Dressage, Show Jumping, and Cross Country, though of course we do our best to provide opportunities for our members in all Pony Club disciplines. 

The best way to decide which club is right for your family is to observe a mounted meeting.  This will give you and your child the opportunity to meet club members and ask questions.

Question: How do we go about joining Mission Valley Pony Club?

Answer:  Contact Jenny Barton at missionvalleyponyclub@gmail.com or call 785-764-0269 and arrange to come observe a meeting.

Mission Valley . . . an Historical Perspective

The following history was painstakingly and lovingly written by Bev Riccardi, one of MVPC's longest standing Sponsors and volunteers.

Mission Valley Pony Club (MVPC) was formed in 1956 out of  a love for young people and horses.  Its founders, Carol Durand, Karen Dean Bunting, and Fran Baker, possessed a desire to bring to the young rider and his or her horse the most challenging tests of good horsemanship.  Their years of experience as members of the Mission Valley Hunt Club inspired a longing to give the young people a chance to enjoy riding as much as they had.  They knew the tremendous value of establishing a Pony Club.  The United States Pony Club (USPC) had been formally incorporated in 1954, with member clubs throughout the United States.  They knew becoming a member of the USPC would provide standards of achievement, instructional and competitive rallies, as well as an opportunity to exchange and share with others a common interest in horses.  They believed an organized approach to learning about riding and the care of horses was vital to the highest ideals of good sportsmanship and personal development.  To this end, riders would find national and international opportunities to express their abilities and receive the rewards of their profound efforts. 

Carol Durand, one of MVPC's founders, was the first woman selected for a U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team.

Carol Durand, an MVPC Founder, was a USET member and the first woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team.

Guided by the USPC liaison, they worked with parents and volunteers to form an adult group know as Sponsors.  The Sponsors became the working committee of the club.  Sponsors met regularly to discuss activities, plans, and issues for the coming year.  They carefully wrote club bylaws in agreement with the charter of USPC.  This was a major task, for the bylaws identified the composition of the Pony Club, such as officers, membership, instruction, and its administrative function.  The Sponsors completed the bylaws after many hours of unrelenting determination to achieve their goals.  After the application had been submitted to and approved by the USPC, Fran Baker was appointed the first Regional Supervisor (RS) and District Commissioner (DC).

It was customary, at that time, for Pony Clubs to assume the name of the hunt club in the same area.  Because of the location of the Mission Valley Hunt Club, the name Mission Valley Pony Club was adopted.

Mission Valley Hunt, MVPC's historic parent organization, is still an active and thriving hunt club.

With the acceptance of the Pony Club as a member of the national organization on December 28, 1956, the activities officially began.  Carol Durand’s international success with horses, as the first woman to be a member of the United States Equestrian Team (USET) and qualify for the 1952 Olympics, greatly influenced the types of programs planned for MVPC and set the direction for its future.  Her friend, Captain John Wofford, was in charge of the retired Army horses at Fort Riley, Kansas.  He agreed to lend some of the horses for use by the young Pony Club riders.  He had been a member of the U.S. Olympic Jumping Team in the 1930’s, and understood the importance of Pony Club to its members.

Captain John Wofford competed in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. He was also the first president of the USET and coached the eventing and show jumping teams.

MVPC found its first home at the Fair Lane Stables in Overland Park, Kansas.  Nancy Yates Kraus and Diane Swanson were assigned to teach the young people how to ride.  Utilizing the rules of the USPC, volunteers and parents joined with the District Commissioner to plan activities.  There were few horse shows during the 1950’s, so members competed against one another.  The first MVPC rally was held in 1957, with the Pony Club from Des Moines, Iowa.  It was the first time MVPC had met with another Pony Club.  Through the assistance of Karen Dean Bunting, who also served as Master of the Fox Hounds of Mission Valley Hunt Club, mock fox hunts were organized.  As young people advanced in their learning about the hunt, they were invited, on occasion, to ride with the hunt.

In 1959, Fran Baker moved away and Nancy Yates Kraus was appointed as the new DC.  She continued to assist the members in acquiring the necessary training and skill to compete in horse shows and prepare for national tests until 1961, when Diane Swanson became the DC.

Founding Member Fran Baker participates in a 1973 hunter trial

During the same time, MVPC changed locations under the guidance of Joe Mackey.  Mr. Mackey was a well-known polo player, steeplechaser, and judge of horse shows.  The young people of MVPC knew him as their most avid supporter.  They looked to him for counsel and appreciated his concern for them as well as their horses.  He had ridden with the Mission Valley Hunt Club, and he willingly shared his knowledge and experience about horses with young people.  He made it possible for MVPC to find a new home at Somerset Stables in Olathe, Kansas.  At Somerset, the membership grew and the number of equestrian activities increased for members. For an intimate and inside view of what life was like for a MVPC kid during the Somerset days, take a moment to read an essay by MVPC Alum Suzanne Johnson here

Jan Dickerson and Eleanor Robinson each served at DC for one year between 1963 and 1965.  Following this, Bev Chester accepted the appointment to serve as DC.  She had shown horses since childhood, and knew the kind of education and training necessary to meet the USPC requirements for passing the standard tests for D, C, B and A ratings.  She was firm in her leadership, but sensitive to the needs of the young rider.  Their losses were her losses.  The young riders knew she cared, and they tried hard to reach their level of achievement.  She wanted them to win in horse shows as much as they, but her first priority was always the preparation and safety of the rider and horse.  She retired from the position of DC in 1984 after 19 years.  The Club honored her with a lifetime membership in USPC for her devoted service.  The Jt-DCs who worked with Bev Chester were Bob Rolands, Clarke Staples and Tom Carlisle.  Their contributions toward fulfilling the purpose and objectives of Pony Club were invaluable.  In 1989, Bev Chester was elected as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for USPC.  She retired from the position in 2001, but is still active in Pony Cub at the regional and national levels. 

Since Bev Chester retired as DC, many others have served as DC and Jt-DC. 

Carol Carlisle/Debbie Guest                                   1984-85

Sherrel Smith/Gale Hickenlooper                           1986-87

Sherri Bosley/Karen Sanford                                  1987-88

Pat Smith/Sheryl McClure                                       1989-91

Terri Neese/Charlotte Crimshaw/Jeri Jackson          1991-92

Charlotte Grimshaw/Jeri Jackson                            1992-94

Jeri Jackson/Jan Bell                                                1994-95

Jan Bell/Cindy Graham                                            1995-96

Jan Bell/Carody Wise                                               1996-98

Beth Howard/Susan Smithburg                               1998-99

Beth Howard/Sharon Arnoldi                                  1999-2000

Lisa Mims/Debbie McLeod                                      2000-01

Debbie McLeod/Carol Krska                                    2001-03

Amy Martin/Debbie McLeod/

Jennifer Baskind/Carol Krska                                   2003-2004

Carol Krska                                                              2013

Kathleen Holcomb                                                  2013-15

Jennifer Barton                                                        2016

Eric Barton                                                               2017 to present

The public relations entity for MVPC was established in the early 1970’s by Bev Riccardi for the purpose of bringing visibility to the young riders' horsemanship and knowledge of the sport. Through the efforts of Mrs. Riccardi, MVPC began participating in the American Royal Parade in 1976.  Their appearance in the 1993 parade was awarded second place for their division.  On October 26, 1996, MVPC won first place in the American Royal Parade.  The theme for the float was “Olympians, Present and Future.”  MVPC again won first place in the American Royal Parade in 2002 and 2003.  The 2002 parade theme was “Proud Past and Promising Future.”  In 2003, members in formal attire waved from a float featuring a live pony and two dogs.

The 2002 MVPC American Royal Parade Float

Mrs. Riccardi also compiled MVPC history, including a display of ribbons, trophies, historical information and photos of members from 1956 to the present.  The display was first seen at the Grand Prix Jumper Horse Show held at the American Royal Building in 1985, and was also shared at numerous other special equestrian events.  In October 1996, MVPC horse show trophies were placed in a special cabinet at the American Royal Ambassador Room.  Through Mrs. Riccardi’s endeavors, Carol Durand, the first woman who won a place on the USET, and one of MVPC’s founders, is honored in the American Royal Museum, which officially opened in November of 1992.

Mrs. Riccardi also realized the importance of training grounds for future MVPC members to excel in combined training and dressage and encouraged membership in Longview Horse Park Association, which has provided facilities for education, competitions, and schooling shows since its founding in 1980.  A plaque in the stable area of the horse park bears the name of Mission Valley Pony Club, in appreciation for the MVPC’s donation to the Barn Fund.  Mrs. Ricardi has served on the Board of Directors for Longview Horse Park from 1980 to the present.

Longview Horse Park is a tremendous part of our club history as well as our current calendar.

On April 13, 1985, Gordon Stoa was the first person to bring Grand Prix Show Jumping to the greater Kansas City area.  Proceeds from his shows provided financial support for  MVPC equine education programs.  Between 1985 and 1987, and again between 1989 and 1991, Mr. Stoa served on the USPC Board of Governors, one of only 30 elected Governors throughout the country.  The Board of Governors was established “to provide the necessary leadership, general management and control over the property and affairs of the organization.”  The Board works hard to represent the various geographical regions of USPC so that diversity of viewpoint and expertise can be exercised. The first USPC Festival was held in 1983 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.  Members of MVPC qualified for and attended this historic event.  Festival, held every three years, provides a showcase of opportunities for instruction, activities, and competition for Pony Club members and their families. In 1989, Mr. Stoa served as co-chairman of Festival.

Mission Valley Pony Club moved to White Fox Manor two months after Somerset Stables was sold in June of 1982.  White Fox Manor was located in Overland Park, Kansas, from 1982 to November of 1987.  The Overland Park property was needed for real estate development, so the facility was physically relocated to Olathe, Kansas. MVPC moved to the new White Fox Manor in May of 1988. The White Fox property was then sold to Johnson County Parks and Recreation on October 15, 2003. In 2015, MVPC left White Fox Manor. MVPC now meets at various locations, including Longview Horse Park, High Point Farm, Chaps Equestrian Center, and the homes of various member families.

White Fox Manor was MVPC's home from 1982 to 2014.

MVPC riders have retained the competitive spirit and enthusiasm that has always been a part of Pony Club. They continue to display their skills in major competitive events throughout the Midwest and the United States. Its members have won countless trophies, titles, and ribbons. Their success in equine sports and equestrian events is a direct result of club leadership over the past many years.

MVPC has known many changes since its founding, but each change has added a measure of growth to its membership.  Without Pony Club, young riders would be without an organized program and a chance to test their horsemanship in a nationally recognized contest.  With the acceptance of membership in Pony Club, the young rider acquires an inherent responsibility to contribute to the perpetual life of equine sports.

A sincere thank you to those individuals who had the vision to form MVPC, the courage to continue its programs and activities, and the wisdom to plan for its future, so that this and other generations of young people may come to know the world of horses.

MVPC is a member of USPC, the leading junior equestrian organization in the world.  MVPC colors are green and white.

USPC Pony Clubs and Riding Centers are assigned to one of 41 geographical regions, which are administered by a volunteer Regional Supervisor (RS) and other appointed and elected officers. Regions offer additional activities and opportunities for members and support for the club and center leaders under their administration. Mission Valley Pony Club is part of the Midwest Region. Visit the region's website for the contact information for the Regional Officers.

Visit the Pony Club website to learn more about the Pony Club educational program, national events, activities and opportunities for members.