CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Clare Mackintosh: The branding irony

PUBLISHED: 09:29 01 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:01 03 June 2016

Tweed-clad or not, pony club kids are a breed unto themselves

Tweed-clad or not, pony club kids are a breed unto themselves


The Pony Club has rebranded - and I haven’t felt this depressed since the Brownies ditched button-down dresses in favour of trousers, baseball caps and sweatshirts.

The Pony Club has rebranded - and I haven’t felt this depressed since the Brownies ditched button-down dresses in favour of trousers, baseball caps and sweatshirts

In an attempt to keep numbers more stable, the Club has revealed its first rebrand in 87 years. Out with the Tudor Rose logo and the posh tweed; in with sorbet pink, social media channels, and a series of diverse poster boys and girls, all designed to help the Pony Club jockey for position against other tween activities such as Playstation, TV, and hanging about the town hall steps talking to boys.

The new look is fresh, bright, and appealing. And I hate it. I haven’t felt this depressed about a rebrand since the Brownies ditched A-line button-down dresses in favour of brown trousers, baseball caps and yellow sweatshirts. The Pony Club is an institution. It’s serious. It boasts dozens of Olympic champions among its alumni, from Zara Phillips to the entire equestrian team at the London 2012 Olympics. Their prowess was surely not built on ice-cream colours and political correctness, yet our future champions will have to be. Because, not content with changing the logo, the rebrand extends to that stalwart of the Pony Club; the District Commissioner.

Such is the impact of this key role, I can still remember the full name of my own DC, despite last seeing her across a muddy field in 1991, as I careered around a cross-country course. Public-school posh and impossibly glamorous, in a tweed jacket and a Hemes headscarf, in my day the District Commissioner was Pony Club royalty. Interviews for the role must surely have required a voice test, to ensure applicants had the strident voice necessary to stop in their tracks any young girls foolish enough to horse around in her presence. Like Mary Poppins, she was firm but fair, and mildly terrifying. Yet it seems such an approach is outdated. Modern children can’t handle the military style instructions, barked without so much as a would you mind awfully? They must instead be cosseted and cajoled; persuaded to conform instead of disciplined when they don’t. A horse, in other words, entirely of a different colour. Less Pony Club, more Political Correctness. At the risk of sounding older than my years, I can’t be the only one to bemoan the loss of discipline from life in general, and from children’s lives in particular. I’m not advocating daily floggings at Pony Club camp, but a healthy dose of respect is part and parcel of the pony world. Looking after horses takes dedication, hard work and fearlessness; being shouted out for having dirty tack is an excellent training ground for taking the sport seriously. Want life to be soft and fluffy? Get a rabbit. Discipline is essential when you’re mixing a field full of four-legged friends with a horde of over-excited children, and in my book that’s no bad thing.

My feisty daughter, who likes to kick back against parental authority with a character transformation of Jekyll and Hyde proportions, will listen meekly as her riding instructor bellows, “HEELS DOWN, EVIE!” and doesn’t bat an eyelid when she’s told off for getting too close to the wrong end of her pony. In her eyes, instructor Bea has celebrity status; what she says, goes.

But times are a-changing, and discipline now as rare as rocking horse proverbial. No doubt the new breed of Pony Club District Commissioners will be sent on endless equality courses, returning with the diversity bit between their teeth to make sure members never feel ‘uncomfortable’. Will it work? Or has the horse already well and truly bolted? As a pony club alumna I’ll support any endeavour designed to boost numbers, but I’m still on the fence about whether a rebrand is the answer.

Tweed-clad or not, pony club kids are a breed unto themselves. I hate to be a neighsayer, but it’ll take more than a new logo to change the Pony Club. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

Follow Clare on Twitter.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One hundred years ago this month the guns fell silent, marking the end of what was to become known as The Great War. Stephen Roberts remembers the impact the war had on Cotswold lives from 1914-1918

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Being a region so steeped in history, there are plenty of locations in the Cotswolds with spooky stories from over the years. From bloody executions, eerie apparitions and headless horsemen, we pick 23 of the most haunted locations throughout the Cotswolds to visit if you dare

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New bat cams installed at Woodchester Mansion help study protected breeds while also becoming an added attraction for visitors. Jo Barber looks at the work of one of the UK’s foremost bat experts and the mansion’s valued volunteers

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From an all-boy, all boarding prep school for just 30 pupils, to the quietly trailblazing yet still traditional school it is today – here is a snapshot of Beaudesert over its 110-year history

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Of all the castles in the region, none have seen as much war, romance and royalty as Sudeley over its dramatic 1,000-year history. And with such a colourful and eventful past, it is easy to see why some people believe there could be spirits from bygone eras which still wander the halls and corridors to this day

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Following a record year for ‘visitor giving’ donations via local businesses, applications are invited to fund conservation projects

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

What started as a business ploy by one Cotswold firm has developed into an inspirational garden

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

If a bit of English eccentricity is your thing, spend an enjoyable afternoon exploring the delightful follies of Faringdon

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search