Wanneroo Horse and Pony Club celebrate 50 years

Allan Hibbert and John Funchess cut the 50th anniversary cake.
Wanneroo Horse and Pony Club celebrate 50 years
Allan Hibbert and John Funchess cut the 50th anniversary cake.

WANNEROO Horse and Pony Club celebrated its 50th anniversary this month with members and friends at its clubrooms on Benmuni Road, Wanneroo.

Founded by Wanneroo Pioneers Derek and Dot Gibbs on their 2.02ha (five-acre) property on Elliot Road, then a rural part of Wanneroo, the club has spent 50 years teaching horsemanship skills and discipline to generations of local youngsters.

In an early interview, Derek recalled how the club got started.

“We got the club going by putting notes around rural areas asking if any kids would like to join a pony club,” he said. “We were surprised by the response.

“After training our young riders and horses to music, we put on the first musical horse show at the Wanneroo Show. The horses did fancy turns and put on a good performance.

“When the dignitaries attended and the awards were presented, Dot made pies, sandwiches and sponge cakes for them at our home.”

Derek introduced show jumping to the club by obtaining poles from the Forestry Department and setting up the show jumps.

Derek was the first to try the jumps.

“I fell on the first round, but with all the kids watching, I had to get back on my horse and do it all again,” he said.

“We had a lot of kids and I couldn’t let them down.”

Although Derek was unable to attend the 50th anniversary, another early president, Allan Hibbert, said in his time, the club operated from Nanovich Park, where it shared premises with Wanneroo Trotting Club.

“It wasn’t ideal, because there were large reticulation pipes over the ground that we used for the horses,” he said.

“These had to be put away and put back when we were finished.”

John Funchess said his wife Lucille, who was a popular former president, was a driving force to make the club more family-oriented and obtain better facilities.

“The club was offered this land but we couldn’t see how we could possibly manage to work through all the local government hurdles and finance the venture,” he said.

“However, we were very fortunate that the Wanneroo mayor at the time was Arnold Dammers and his assistance was excellent. “Our Federal Member, Paul Filing, was also very helpful and assisted Lucille with paperwork to secure a $40,000 government grant.

“It would be true to say without Arnold’s and Paul’s help, we wouldn’t have the fine grounds and clubrooms here today.”

John said the club did its own fundraising to finance its first-class clubrooms overlooking the spacious equestrian arena.