In the Beginning
The Willamette Valley Pony Club was organized at the Independent Hall south of Philomath, Oregon on October 14, 1960
by a group of pony enthusiasts. Most were breeders of Shetlands; some owned Welsh or POAs.

Activities during the first year included monthly meetings with driving and riding practice at the Benton County Fairground. Movies
obtained from the American Shetland Pony Club , the national Shetland association, including "Every Child's Dream, a Shetland Pony," "The Registered Shetland," and "Diamond in the Rough" (demonstrating clipping a pony) were shown at members' homes. At one meeting, Jack Rowell, a local farrier, told about hoof care and showed samples of badly foundered hooves. At another meeting, a body clipping demonstration was given on a two-year-old stallion.

For several years, the club rented the fairgrounds arena twice a month on Saturday nights during fall, winter and spring months. Arena rent was only $12.50 then! Sometimes as many as 16 ponies and carts filled the arena. When the drivers finished, the business meeting was held in the heated room above. Then the kids took over the arena riding their ponies.

At a Benton County Posse show in February 1963, the club was alloted thirty minutes to demonstrate what Shetlands could do.
The audience was amazed by the little Shetlands pulling carts and kids riding their small ponies.

The 1963 Loyalty Days parade at Newport was the first parade the club entered. Riders and drivers wore white shirts and blue jeans, as the club colors were blue and white. The club continued to enter this parade for several years.

Members practiced a drill with carts throughout the winter and spring of 1963. Blue and white plumes decorated the ponies' bridles. The pony cart drill team first performed at the1963 Newport horse show. That same year, pony carts carried the Queen and court of the Philomath Frolic in the main parade and in the grand entry at the Philomath Buckaroos horse show the following day. For the next several years, the drill team of 12 carts and ponies entered parades and performed at numerous events.


During the 1960s and 1970s, the Alpenrose Dairy in Portland, Oregon hosted an Americana Pageant. "This is My Country" was presented six consecutive nights during Fourth of July week. About 50 children, including many WVPC members, brought their Shetlands and spent a week at the dairy. They were fitted for costumes, which the dairy provided, and practiced for the pageant. On three afternoons, they participated in game shows, with ribbons each day and high-point awards at the end. The pageant included pilgrims, pony express riders, covered wagon caravan, frontier circus parade, cowboys and Indians, cattle drive, a rodeo, and more. Shetlands owned by Alpenrose pulled most of the historic vehicles. Approximately 100 Shetlands participated in the pageant. Portland Youth for Christ members made up the cast of actors on foot. Local TV/radio personality Kirby Brumfield narrated the pageant. Each night ended with a huge fireworks display.

In Later Years

In 1972 two of the members taught the kids a riding drill, which they performed at the county fair. During this time, the Iley Thompson family, members from Washington state (more than100 miles away), came regularly to the playdays.

The first year for pony halter classes at the Benton County Fair , Corvallis , was in 1964. These classes have continued every
year since. From 1964 through 1972, ponies were stabled next to the arena in what later became the Arts & Crafts building.
The fair grew and in 1973 the ponies were stabled in a tent in the oak grove. Since 1974 the ponies have been stabled in the
present pony barns where they spend 5 days on exhibition during the fair. A stall decoration contest for both youth and adults encourages creativity and an attractive barn area. Showmanship classes and new halter classes have been added over the years making it one of Oregon's largest halter class pony shows.

In 1966 the club sponsored a Saturday performance and pony game pony show at the Benton County Fair. This event has been held every year since, except for 1976 when it was rained out and the arena was 6" deep in mud! Rain affected the show again in 1999, and it was cancelled after the first 10 classes. Over the years, more performance classes have been added. We now offer costume, leadline, in-hand trail, in-hand jumping and obstacle driving, in addition to games, western pleasure and pleasure driving.

Activites during the past year included business meetings at Consumers Power meeting room near Philomath, playdays and a schooling show at the Hughes arena, a summer picnic and annual December potluck and election of officers. The club entered two parades -- the Philomath Frolic parade and the Halsey Achievement days parade. The club also planned and carried out the annual pony show at the fair.

Most of the members entered halter classes at the fair. More than 60 ponies competed. Many pony breeds have been represented in the halter classes over the years. Shetlands continue to be the largest group. Others include POAs, Welsh, Hackney, Fjord, Galiceno, Icelandic, Miniature Horses and crossbreds.

With the club now in its fourth decade, members look forward to a fun-filled future with ponies!