Bath Pony Club announces Jeni Gaffney scholarship winners

by Laura Bednar

The Bath Pony Club, a chapter of the U.S. Pony Club, announced the recipients of its Jeni Gaffney Memorial scholarship.

The scholarships range from $200-$500 to help cover expenses associated with earning national level certifications within the pony club. Gaffney was actively involved with the Bath Pony Club, teaching young riders unmounted programs, done while off the pony, to prepare them to earn higher ratings.

“Jeni poured her heart and soul into the club,” said DeAnna Koch, district coordinator for Bath Pony Club.

Gaffney passed away in the fall of 2022 and also volunteered with the Bath Horse Show, Valley Riding and was an equestrian competitor in dressage.

Koch said the scholarships are available to all pony club members in the region who submit an application and essay. The winners are: Makaila Beiter from the Hunters Run Pony Club, Miranda Donnelly from the Harts Run Hunt Pony Club, Lydia McKenzie from Hunters Run and Lydia Szklinski from the Brush Run Pony Club.

Scholarships were already being awarded, but funding had dwindled. Koch said after talking to Sean and Colin, Gaffney’s husband and son, respectively, they wanted to keep the scholarship going. They let people know that donations made in Gaffney’s name could be directed to a variety of organizations, including the Bath Pony Club.

Bath Pony Club has 36 members ages 8 to 22. Koch said the club is one of the oldest in the country and offers weekly lessons for riders to thoroughly understand horses.

“The premise is leadership and a peer-learning philosophy,” she said. “The older kids teach the younger kids.”

This spring, 80 riders from Ohio and beyond competed in a combined trial, which is comprised of show jumping and dressage. Bath Pony Club holds these shows three times a year as fundraisers. The club is a nonprofit and uses the funds to support lessons and programs, according to Koch.

She said the shows are a type of “schooling,” functioning as a first step for new riders before they progress to higher-level shows.

Bath Pony Club member Katie Spindel earned recognition when she attended the Kentucky Three-Day Event, an equestrian competition showcasing the world’s leading riders. While she did not compete, she and three riders from pony clubs within the Ohio tri-state region participated in a games demo for spectators.

These games include riding ponies between poles, relay races and balancing a golf ball on a spoon and dropping it into a cup while riding. ∞

Jeni Gaffney was actively involved with the Bath Pony Club as a teacher to young riders.

Photo (main – above): Katie Spindel participated in a games demonstration at the Kentucky Three-Day Event, a prestigious equestrian competition. Photos courtesy of DeAnna Koch.