HOW TO START A RIDING CLUB
Starting a riding club in your community can be a complex process and should be carefully
planned if the club is to succeed in the long term. This is a basic step-by-step guide to
forming a riding club from scratch.
WHY START A RIDING CLUB?
Definition of a Club:
A club is defined as a group that has been formed by individuals motivated by a
common interest and a desire to participate in a given activity. A riding club may be
oriented to education, athlete development or recreation, or a combination of these.
Benefits of forming a club include:
Encouraging local participation in riding
Providing organized riding events
Encouraging cooperation and teamwork among the clubs members
Promoting and developing leadership
Opportunities to affiliate with other riding clubs
Is there a need?
Although people may feel that a new riding club is needed, or have a strong personal interest
in developing a club, this is not enough to guarantee community demand for the club or its
likelihood of success. In other words, you need some basic research to determine the likely
success of the venture. The information will also be invaluable when seeking funding
The organizers of a proposed club might address the following types of questions:
What other riding clubs exist in the local community?
How many potential members are there for a new riding club?
Are there suitable facilities available at a reasonable cost?
How far will people need to travel to attend club meetings and events?
All these questions should be examined before developing a plan.
DECIDING TO PROCEED
Once the community background information has been analyzed, it is time to make a decision
on whether to proceed. At this point you may want to discuss the idea with other community
groups. These may include, for example, other equestrian organizations, local community
recreation groups, or possibly schools.
You should have a meeting of all those interested in being a part of a new riding club,
whether simply as members or perhaps as volunteers and organizers. Before announcing the
meeting you need to decide what day, time and place will be the best to get as many people
as possible to attend.
In order to reach a large number of potential participants, it is important that the meeting is
advertised in a number of ways using a variety of sources. These may include:
Invitations (Some people should be personally invited to attend)
The local papers (Using both media releases and paid advertisements)
Community service announcements on radio and TV
Posters (community centres, schools, supermarket bulletin boards
Meetings are a good means of communication and decision-making but meetings can be
unproductive and a waste of the members time if a few rules are not followed. Two
components of a successful, effective meeting are:
Notice of Meeting - everyone should be given at least 7 days advance notice of a meeting,
which should include the location and time of the meeting, the purpose of the meeting, an
agenda and any relevant materials required to deal with the agenda items (previous meeting
Recording of Minutes - without proper recording of the minutes many important issues can be
lost and decisions not acted upon. Minutes should contain the date, time and place of the
meeting, plus the purpose of the meeting, who was in attendance and a record of all motions,
a summary of the discussions, and a list of “action items” to be followed up on. Minutes are
necessary to keep the members informed.
CLUB ORGANIZATION & ADMINISTRATION
You have identified a need to form a new riding club. To be a successful well-run riding club
you need a clear understanding of your organizations mandate, goals and objectives.
A club must operate under guidelines, which are set out by the membership. These guidelines
are referred to as the Constitution/Bylaws or Terms of Reference.
A community organization can also choose whether or not they wish to become incorporated
as a not for profit group. The benefits of becoming incorporated include:
Limiting the liability of members from various debts and obligations for which the club
may become responsible
Giving the club permanency even though the members may change
Incorporation structures the affairs and activities of the club
Funders often require that the club be incorporated in order to be eligible for funding
A smaller riding club may wish to simply develop a Terms of Reference or Policy Statement
outlining their club's structure. It’s important to address the issue of liability insurance for
the club and the club’s directors. Horse Council BC member clubs can apply for discounted
insurance through Capri Insurance.
Capri Insurance has liability policies for Horse Council BC member clubs. Call them to inquire
about costs and coverage: 1-800-670-1877 and ask for the Equine specialists.
Keeping track of a club's finances is critical to the ongoing success of a program. Areas that
will need to be addressed include:
Developing a draft budget
Determine sources of income (membership fees, grants, sponsorship, fund raising etc)
Determine expenses (facilities, equipment, training, travel etc)
Developing an accounting system
Developing financial policies for the club
Making new members aware of the benefits, rules and responsibilities when joining your club
is critical. The following should be considered:
What services will the club provide and what will be the cost of these services to
What are the benefits of being a member?
What education/training opportunities exist and in what format?
What participation opportunities are there, including social/competitive/non-
What skill development opportunities are there? How can they be accessed?
How wide-ranging are the activities? Do they cater for children, older adults, and
people with disabilities? How do they cater for each of the groups?
What resources are available? Does the club have any access to books, videos, kits or
pamphlets? What equipment/facilities exist?
What support services (such as child minding) are available?
What social events/opportunities does the organization offer?
Voting (define members, including voting members…)
The number of executive positions required to form a board will be determined by the size of
the riding club. In an incorporated club the number of positions will be identified in the
Constitution or Bylaws. In a smaller organization these positions will be identified in the
Terms of Reference.
It is important that all board positions are well defined by written job descriptions. A well-
written job description gives direction to the officer. Job descriptions are also useful tools for
the initial orientation and as a reference throughout the officer's commitment. Members of
the nominating committee should provide the organizations job descriptions to interested
Election of Officers
The method of how an organization elects their officers is determined in the Constitution or
Bylaws. Normally a Nominating Committee is formed to ensure that volunteers are recruited
to fill vacant board positions and that a slate of nominees of those who are willing to run for a
position is presented at the AGM.
Organizations may want to consider staggering the terms of office to ensure that not all
positions come forward for re-election the same year.
Inaugural general meeting
At least two weeks prior to the intended date, the interim committee should circulate to
potential members the proposed constitution or charter, and notice of when this first general
meeting will be held. Again there needs to be an attempt to use a wide variety of sources and
types of media to promote awareness.
Recruiting and maintaining an effective volunteer force is essential for the survival of any
organization. Volunteers are the backbone of the organization and without their time and
energy organizations fail to function effectively. You will need to address:
1. Recruitment Strategies
Assess the club’s volunteer needs
Identify the skills required to meet the needs
Establish volunteer time commitments
Develop job descriptions
Develop an orientation/training manual
Design a system of evaluation
Develop a volunteer appreciation program
Planning a coordinated recruitment strategy:
Reaching Potential Volunteers
The best way to find that new volunteer is to go out and look for them. This means area
residents, students from local schools, parents of those participating in the programs.
Personal contact is still the best way to recruit volunteers. A successful recruitment program
may also include:
Public service announcements
Word of mouth
The key to interesting a possible new recruit is to point out the advantages of the experience,
e.g. developing skills, job experience and meeting new people. Let them know what is in it
Establishing Local & Provincial Partnerships
Once a decision has been made to form a new riding club, decide whether the organization
should be affiliated with a larger club. There are many advantages to affiliating with a
Local/Provincial/National body. Depending on the nature of the proposed clubs future plans;
affiliation should be investigated and subsequently discussed at a meeting. Some advantages
of affiliation include:
Giving members the opportunity to participate at provincial and national levels.
Providing pathways for advancement in coaching, administration and officiating
Cost savings for the organization in the area of insurance
Access to knowledge, skills and experience passed on by the more senior body.
TOP TEN HINTS - Starting a Club
1) Spread the workload. Members will be more committed if their talents are used and it will
reduce stress on your core organizing committee
2) Hold regular, interesting meetings in which decisions are made. Good meetings keep clubs
or groups alive.
3) Draw up a club or group register of members' and volunteer's names, addresses, ages,
occupations and other relevant information.
4) Plan for the future. Keep records from the outset - they provide a valuable resource as
your club evolves.
5) Organize a permanent mailing address and phone number that can be attached to all
correspondence, pamphlets and posters your club creates.
6) Provide an orientation and job description for your volunteers. People like to know what a
job entails before they commit.
7) Contact your local Recreation Director or Recreation Department. They can be a valuable
asset in helping you start a club in your community.
8) Provide training opportunities for your volunteer coaches. This ensures your riders have the
best coaching possible.
9) Develop a yearly budget. Know what your costs will be and develop a plan to secure any
10) Acknowledge your volunteers! A simple thank you letter at the end of the season or after
an event lets them know their efforts were recognized and appreciated.
There is a wealth of information available on the internet on every subject imaginable.
However, wading through the multitude of web sites to find useful information can be
frustrating and time consuming. The web resources listed below will lead you directly to web
sites with information specific to Starting A Club.
HOW TO START A CLUB – GENERAL ARTICLES
NSW Sport and Recreation This Australian website from the State of New South Wales offers a
section called "Running Your Club" and includes information on: Risk management, Volunteer
Management and A-Z Fact Sheets on running your club.
Leisure Information Network (LIN) The Leisure Information Network (LIN) website is dedicated
to providing resources and sharing information on recreation, sport, culture and lifestyle
enhancement. One article located on LIN pertaining to starting a club is produced by the
Northwest Territories Municipal and Community Affairs and titled "Developing a Community
Sport Association". To access this article: Go to the LIN website, click on the "Recreation
Database" button, click on "Keyword Search" and type in "Community Sport Association" and
SPARC SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand) offers a wide range of information on sport
and recreation topics. For information specific to Starting A Club click on either "Running
Sport 1 or "Running Sport 2" in the "Sports Administrators" section.
HOW TO START A CLUB – EXTRA LINKS TO RELATED AREAS
(many from SPARC at www.sparc.org.nz)
The Resource Centre for Voluntary Organizations maintains an extensive collection of
information resources for the volunteer community, including a library of print materials
(books, articles and journals) and an audio visual library. The above link will take you directly
to an article within this website called “Financial Responsibilities of Not for Profit Boards”,
that provides a basic explanations of accounting principles.
Establishing the type of structure for the club is a bit like getting the financial management
club underway – it sounds daunting but it’s not if you have the right checklist and process to
To start with, you’ll need to have a clear idea of the kind of structure your club will have.
Your club’s structure will be determined by:
the size of club and any potential for growth
the amount of flexibility you’ll need as the club grows and matures
the culture and values that you want the club to have
the extent of the clubs activities e.g. fundraising, tournaments etc
the type of management structure the club is governed by
funding - how much, where from and what for?
responsibility and accountability - who’s in charge, who’s liable if things go wrong?
financial monitoring and accountability.
Most large sport and recreational clubs choose to have ‘formal’ organisational structures and
register their organisations as such. The most popular structures are incorporated societies
and charitable trusts.
There is no need for a formal structure but these structures protect individual members in
certain situations and give your organisation the right to sign contracts, lease premises,
operate bank accounts, and apply for government grants.
However, please remember that incorporation does not prevent legal action being taken
against individual members for negligence in any circumstances.
Incorporation of a club means that it becomes a legal identity separate from its individual
members. Put another way, the association is considered by law to have a distinct identity
that continues regardless of membership.
The benefits of an incorporated society’s structure include:
the ability to create documents in the club’s name
the ability to enter into contracts in the club’s name
the ability to buy, sell, own, lease and rent property subject to the club’s rules
the ability to borrow money and give securities subject to the club’s rules
the ability to sue and be sued in its own name.
To ensure that a sports club runs smoothly and efficiently, a management team/committee
must be formed.
The management team or committee should have a president or chairperson, a secretary, and
a treasurer. These people provide governance for the club - they will ensure good leadership
and adhere to principles of best practice.
The role of the management team/committee includes:
making sure that the club meets its aims and goals, and its obligations as outlined in
making sure there are people and resources available to achieve these aims and goals
managing any potential risks to the club
developing and implementing policies that achieve its aims and goals
involving everyone in the club with achieving it aims and goals
reporting, at least once a year, to the wider club.
ensuring the long term well-being of the club, both financially and organisationally.
monitoring and evaluating the clubs activities for quality and relevance.
providing a job description for each role within the Management Committee. Job
descriptions outline the key tasks and responsibilities of each of the management
roles. Sample or template job descriptions that can be tailored to suit your particular
club are provided in the resources section.
The Committees, Roles and Running Meetings section of the Club Kit has further information
on management roles, and on running meetings
Checklist - here are some things to consider:
The treasurer is a key person in the club’s management. They are represented on the club’s
board or committee, and take overall responsibility for its financial management.
The size of this job will depend on how big the club is, and whether there are other people
who can help – either with the financial administration or as a finance sub-committee.
The treasurer will require a job description. See job description (DOC, 28 Kb). This sets out
what they’re supposed to be do and provides standards for their performance.
The treasurer’s role includes reporting on actual finances and seeking out the best ways to
use available funds.
The treasurer will need the following stationery to perform their job effectively:
bank deposit books
a cash book or general ledger.
payment authorisation (cheque requisition) vouchers
a numbered receipt book with carbon copy page
account forms for members’ subscriptions
a petty cash payment book and petty cash vouchers
a file for accounts payable ie. amounts owing to suppliers for goods and services
a file to store receipts from accounts paid
a file of orders placed with suppliers
a file to store bank statements
Accounting systems and software
Usually a computerised accounting system is the easiest and simplest way to keep track of the
There are several simple programs or software packages available. Have a look around to see
what’s best for your club’s needs. If the club is small enough a manual system may be
Here’s what your accounting program should be able to do:
produce comprehensive financial accounts (profit, loss and balance)
allow you to make necessary adjustments easily
provide you with the information required in an easy to understand report form.
provide information in a clear format that everyone using can understand clearly
A cashbook is a journal in which all of the club’s receipts and payments are recorded.
‘Cash’ includes actual money, credit card slips, cheques and money orders.
There will be receipts and cheque butts but the cashbook records the details of all
The club will need a cheque account. The cheque books provide a simple and effective way to
track the club’s spending.
Usually clubs have two management committee members (including the Treasurer) who are
authorised to jointly sign the club’s cheques.
Three members may be authorised with only two required to validate the cheque.
The club’s bank statement will also provide an accurate record of spending. And you can
choose the frequency of these statements.
The club will require an annual budget. This is the responsibility of the treasurer and is
agreed on by the club’s management committee.
Once the budget is approved, it is added into your accounting system so that it can be
compared to the club’s actual income and expenses. You can use either an Excel spreadsheet
or a manual cashbook for the club’s budget.
To prepare a budget:
start with actual income and expenditure from the previous year. If the club is new
you will have to base this upon realistic estimates.
add what you know about the coming year
adjust and modify until you have a realistic and reasonable budget
get the budget approved by your management committee or governing body.
Cash flow forecasting
Cash flow forecasting allows you to anticipate any dips in your club’s income and plan around
If the club’s income is variable, good forecasting will mean you’ll still be able to meet
To prepare a cash flow forecast:
use the budget and break it down month by month
add in the opening bank balance and calculate the closing balance
The club’s financial records may be audited from time to time.
During an audit, a person independent of the club such as an accountant, checks that the
financial statements are a correct record of the financial position of the club at the time of
A suitably qualified volunteer can review the club’s accounts, or it may be necessary to use a
professional auditing service. This can be costly so finding a volunteer who is willing to
perform the audit is preferable.
Auditing can be a lengthy process and it is a good idea to allow six to eight weeks for an audit
to be completed. Your club’s auditor will need:
the club’s cashbooks, written up and balanced for the year, and journals or ledgers
that the club uses for records
bank statements for the whole year
copies of deposit slips and cheque stubs
receipt books with duplicate and original copies plus any unused receipt books
vouchers for payments made by the club, arranged in numerical order
receipts or copies of cheques paid to your club
copies of minutes from your management meetings that show how financial decisions
were made and agreed
copies of any previous audit statements
all financial statements for the year being audited
any other relevant financial documents
It is important that the club has adequate insurance. The extent of insurance required will
vary depending on the club’s assets, size, and activities.
Given the commitment and contribution that volunteers make, it’s important they are
protected from any potential risks.
Capri Insurance has policies for Horse Council BC member clubs. Call them to inquire about
costs and coverage: 1-800-670-1877 and ask for the Equine specialists.
Generally you’ll require policy coverage for liability insurance.
prepared by Ruth Donald
Horse Council BC
Dec. 9, 2010