Leg Up Equestrian Center is now one of five U.S. Pony Club Riding Centers in the Carolinas, and one of 39 nationally.
The center, located at 8801 Collins Road,Indian Land, focuses on English-style riding and overall horsemanship, including grooming and care for horses. Owner Cathy Kodell grew up around horses and was a member of Pony Club during her youth. She created Leg Up based on the same principals she learned from Pony Club, which made the center an easy fit for the Pony Club Riding Center program.
"It's not just about your skills on top of the horse," Kodell said. "It's about how the horse can help you grow as a young person."
Riding is a special sport, because it involves a live animal as well as a human being, she said. Because a live animal enters the equation Leg Up students of all ages spend a lot of time learning how to manage and interact with the animals on the ground as well as from the saddle.
"It's not just, let's get on and look pretty and win ribbons," she said. "Eleven years ago when we were setting up the center, I found I fed a lot off of my Pony Club experience."
Pony Club, a youth-oriented program for people 25 or younger, began in 1954, according to Aileen Gordon, a Pony Club Member Services Assistant, who is coordinating the riding center program. Currently, Pony Club has approximately 11,000 members across the U.S. and approximately 520 have joined through the riding centers.
The riding center program has been in existence for three years, Gordon said. It started as a pilot program initially scheduled to run for five years. But it has been so successful so far that Pony Club will probably extend it into a full-time program.
"We're seeing the demographics changing," Gordon said. "The backyard horse is not as common anymore. More people are getting experience with horses through equestrian centers, so we went to them."
Pony Club membership includes a $95 registration fee ($85 for annual renewal for existing members). To join members need their own horse, unless they join through a riding center like Leg Up. Members who join through a riding center have to also become members of that riding center, but riding centers like Leg Up provide the horses and instructors.
Leg Up offers a couple of different membership packages. Both require a $35 registration fee. Ten weekly lessons are available for $350 per quarter, or 20 biweekly lessons are available for $600 per quarter.