From the horse’s mouth


Joondalup Weekender - - News - Bill Mar­wick

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.

Al­lan Hib­bert and John Funchess cut the 50th an­niver­sary cake.

Club founder Derek Gibbs.

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