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WTPC Rating


left to right – all passed the D1 Warren Milnor on Dutchess, John T. Milnor on Honey Bee, Walker Atkinson on Candy, Vivian Atkinson on Lacy, Eloise Milnor on Rapunzel, and Stuart Atkinson on Olive

Article & photos by Tommy Brannon

West Tennessee Pony Club (WTPC) held a rating for D1 and D2 candidates the weekend of May 16-17, 2020 at the farm of former WTPC District Commissioner (DC) Vonna Read near Collierville, TN. Current DC Cindy Marsh organized the rating with examiner Sara Beth Slaughter, who was assisted (clip board in hand) by scribe Heather Roth.

The D1 candidates were: Warren Milnor on Dutchess, John T. Milnor on Honey Bee, Walker Atkinson on Candy, Vivian Atkinson on Lacy, Eloise Milnor on Rapunzel, and Stuart Atkinson on Olive. One interesting thing about this rating was that all six D1 candidates were the descendents (great grandchildren/great nephews and nieces) of Mrs. Imogene Erb (Miss Imo), who is well known as the matriarch of the horse community in west Tennessee and was one of the first pony Club DCs in the Memphis area. She founded Blackberry Hill Pony Club in the 1950s and hosted the club at her farm in East Memphis. Miss Imo is still a very active equine enthusiast.   

Concerned for the spread of COVID-19, WTPC was quite cautious in conducting this rating, following the guidelines of United States Pony Club (USPC). The maximum number of riders was limited to six; everyone had to keep six feet apart when dismounted; and chairs were separated six feet apart in the tack room and barn. The provided lunch was served to each child by an adult who wore a mask and gloves. Even without the COVID-19 situation, USPS rules for certifications prohibit any involvement between the candidates and anyone else besides the Examiner and the Impartial Observer (IO). The IO is the liaison between parent and child should a need arise.  Any contact from a trainer or parent is considered “Unauthorized Assistance.” The parents at this rating did what many parents do at Pony Club functions: observe from a distance.

 Performance at a USPC test is measured against the Standards of Proficiency for each rating, e.g., D1 or D2, and not against other candidates. Find information about the local level USPC certifications at: At the end of the examination, all of the candidates met the standards.

The D2 candidates, Tara Haubrich on Max and Eliza Taylor on Starbux, had their examination on Sunday May 17. All passed their D2 rating!

The Examiner Sara Beth Slaughter had this take on the rating:

“I’m so glad to see West Tennessee Pony Club back in action! As a young pony clubber, I was always intimidated by my examiners, and it’s crazy to think that I’m examining young pony clubbers now. This weekend, we had six kids do their first Pony Club rating, D1, and two D2s. Thankfully, I had a friend and former pony clubber, Heather Roth, assist me with keeping everything organized. Everyone did great in their ratings and handled every situation with responsibility, which I am very proud of, considering the fact that WTPC was unable to host a rating prep due to the current circumstances.  What I loved the most about this weekend was being able to see the passion for horses these kids have, and I’ll be excited to see where that passion takes them in their riding career. I think Pony Club is a great start to that journey and foundation to horsemanship. I hope that WTPC will have a strong team of these horsemen and women in the near future to experience all that Pony Club offers – rallies, clinics, etc. – and to be role models to the rest of the horse community.”

For a list of the standards of proficiency for D1 and D2 go to:

Find more information about United States Pony Club at: and West Tennessee Pony Club at:

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