Meet Brydi Fittock, a 15-year-old from North Dorrigo Pony Club in NSW. Recently, Brydi graduated from the Pony Club Australia Leadership Certificate program. This program is designed for members aged 14 to 18, aiming to develop leadership skills and personal growth through four main parts: skill development, community engagement, leadership growth, and reflection. But it’s not just about horses; it teaches important life skills too.

Skill Development

As part of her skill development, Brydi participated in an SES Youth Internship and earned her First Aid Certificate. Reflecting on her experience, she shared, “During the months of September, October, November, and December I volunteered to be an intern in an SES youth internship program. I was one of the seven from my school that met every Thursday afternoon to work along with the SES and learn new skills and voluntary traits. This was a very important and valuable 16 weeks of learning how to work together, seeing how voluntary parts of my community function together and also picking up little things like learning three new knots, land searches, and effectively using sandbags.”

Brydi’s dedication culminated in an official First Aid course. “Throughout two days we discussed many scenarios we can come across like snake bites, bleeding, broken and fractured arm slings, CPR, and many more. Passing this test means I am competent in helping people that might need assistance,” she added.

Community Engagement

Brydi’s community engagement was extensive. She helped in the canteen at the two-day Silver Spurs Campdraft, promoted and sold pies for the pony club’s Pie Drive, assisted at Dorrigo’s Pony Club Camp and end-of-year presentation, and worked with the SES Livestock squad on horse training. She explained, “During the day we helped them get comfortable with horses, teaching them how to approach a horse, put a halter on one, leading, and picking up the horse’s feet. I showed leadership by planning familiarisation activities for my teams and doing demonstrations of how to act around the horse.”

At the pony club camp, Brydi took a lead role in ensuring a welcoming environment for everyone. She noted, “Even though we don’t have any boy riding members in our club, during our camp we had heaps of younger boys that had sisters riding and they were always welcomed and included in non-horse activities. For our Mexicana and Costume night, we had heaps of decorations and dress-ups for everyone to use. Us kids also had night games going on which everyone was included, all the little kids, girls and boys. Parents had the choice to pay for camp over time instead of a lump sum to cater for everyone so no one feels left out if they are unable to afford it.”

Leadership Development

The Leadership Certificate Program helped Brydi become a strong leader in her Pony Club and community. She shared, “Throughout this program, I think I have developed into a strong leader in my Pony Club and my community. I have learned to cooperate with others by delegating jobs, being organised and inclusive, and sometimes you just have to take the wheel and make the best decision you can with the information you have. I have learned you can’t please everybody due to such a variety of personalities but coming back, working together, and everyone sharing their ideas can really fix the problem.”

Reflections and Future Plans

When asked why she joined the program, Brydi said, “What made me want to join the Leadership Program was a chance to engage with the community, meet new people, and develop more leadership skills like public speaking, presenting, sharing roles, and working in a diverse team. Signing up, I first thought it would be a lot of theory work, and while it is in some parts, it is so much more engaging and practical.”

She was pleasantly surprised by how much community engagement the program offered. “One of the biggest surprises I had while undergoing this certificate was how much community engagement the panel has to offer, from volunteering to one-on-one interviewing and the responsibilities and roles that you can take on from your own club to become a stronger voice for riders.”

Looking ahead, Brydi plans to continue using and improving the skills she gained. “To keep improving the skills I have gained from this certificate, I will always try to put my hand up and volunteer for any leadership and teamwork opportunities that come up, whether they be at school, Pony Club, or in my everyday life.”

Final Thoughts

Brydi highly recommends the program to others, saying, “I think it is a great opportunity to obtain new skills, grow as a person, and have a stronger voice. Unlike schoolwork and studying, the program’s content was extremely practical and enjoyable to participate in. I would highly recommend, whatever your age, to apply for this program as you will definitely come out a stronger and more confident you. The invaluable knowledge of the mentors and guest speakers you have access to is second to none.”

Brydi’s journey through the Pony Club Australia Leadership Program is a testament to the positive impact such programs can have on young individuals, equipping them with essential skills for their future.

For more information about PCA’s Leadership Certificate Program, download the brochure.