If you were asked where NSW's best Pony Club was located, you'd be forgiven for letting your mind wander to some of the larger regional centres in the state: Dubbo, Tamworth, Goulburn, maybe even Orange, but generally speaking, towns with populations greater than 20,000.
But actually, none of those places, despite their size and scope, can lay claim to that honour this year, it belongs to the town of Cudal, which at the last census, boasted just over 550 people as residents.
"We were a bit blown away by it to tell you the truth," said Cudal Pony Club president Jarrad Haynes after receiving the award from the NSW Pony Club Association last week.
[We're] aiming for that club atmosphere and [ensuring] that it's one big family.Cudal Pony Club president Jarrad Haynes
But while the committee were pleasantly surprised, their activities over the past year suggest they more than worthy winners.
"We've invested a fair bit of money back into the club," Haynes explained.
This has meant introducing different types of equine sports into the mix, including Tetrathlon - a hybrid sport that includes swimming and running and shooting as well as riding.
The club has also run camps to develop riders' skills, but Haynes said the focus has always been on fostering a strong sense of community.
"[We're] aiming for that club atmosphere and [ensuring] that it's one big family," Haynes explained.
It is this sense of community that he believes has allowed the club to out do itself with its achievements this year, specifically noting that it takes more than him or the organising committee to ensure an event's success, and that the recognition won't shift the club from its ongoing aims.
"Everyone chips in, everyone has a part in the day... it's every single person to chipping in to make the event successful... It actually allows the club to run," he said.
"We want to continue to instill confidence in the kids and ensure they are learning the correct techniques and skill to ensure they stay safe while doing what they love."
The club has also had several outstanding individual performances, with 13 year old Dixie Eyb overcoming knee injury to be the only local zone representative at this year's Pony Club Nationals Formal Gymkhana. She is also a reserves member of the under 18s Tetrathlon team.
Eyb will have a packed September, completing those duties alongside high school team representation at the National Interschool Titles, having recently won high point champion at the Interschool Spectacular in Tamworth.
Meanwhile, the club will also be running a three-day camp over the school holidays from September 30, with around 80 kids set to take part.
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