Aberdeen Riding Club can be found at Oldfold Farm, Milltimber, Aberdeen. Milltimber is a quiet village in the West End of Aberdeen and provides an ideal location for a riding school. Oldfold is a ten minute drive from the centre of Aberdeen and is also easily accessible from the North and South of the city due to a good network of roads. We are also on the number 19 bus route and the stables are located a 500 metre walk from the bus stop (easily visible).
Oldfold has been a working farm for over 100 years, owned by the current landowners. Over the years it has been a prestigious house with stables (original stables and carriage house are still in place today), a mill, a dairy farm and now an equestrian centre. It is built on ideal draining land, with a gentle incline running from the most northerly point of the farm down to North Deeside Road. We moved to Oldfold in 2003 because we felt that the excellent facilities would improve our club. Having carried out many improvements over the years, we still believe that it is one of the best facilities in the North East of Scotland. Some of our facilities are listed below for your information.
Our indoor school is 24 metres wide and 72 metres long, making it quite a sizeable building. We have installed portable partitions to split the school in to a smaller arena (for beginner/novice groups and lunge/private lessons) and a larger arena (for more advanced groups/privates). There is a viewing area within the school so spectators can stay dry, however be warned that in winter it can be chilly and you need to dress appropriately to spectate. The indoor surface is a sand/bark mix, making it environmentally friendly and low maintenance. We have excellent lighting within the arena, allowing our members and liveries to ride at any time of day at any time of year. There are a variety of jumps and equipment available in both indoor schools. The indoor school also houses a special mounting area used by the Riding for the Disabled, and the Riding for the Disabled tack room/storage area.
The outdoor arena was installed in 2005 and was our biggest expense to date. It is 35metres x 58 metres and has full drainage, membranes and a silica sand and rubber surface. We were the lucky recipients of a £10,000 grant from The Duncan Forbes trust , which was all invested in the paddock. The trust was designed to benefit local riders of the area, and the trustees felt that Aberdeen Riding Club was an excellent candidate as the paddock would benefit so many local riders. The outdoor arena is used for lessons when the weather is good, however we only ever run two lessons at the same time to ensure an indoor school is always available for our members. This also ensures that there is an arena free for our liveries at all times. The outdoor arena is the ideal arena for members wishing to practice around a course as its size allows for a full course of 10 - 12 fences to be built. The arena is fenced in with post and rail fencing and has two gates to allow access to the tractor and levelling equipment.
We purchased a full course of cross country jumps in 2011, for use by our liveries and riding school members. Unfortunately, we will not offer the jumps for private hire to non-members, as the insurance costs would affect our lesson prices and we feel that they will last longer if used by our members only.
The cross country jumps are portable fences which are securely pegged into place, which means that we can move the jumps each year to change the challenge of them. The jumps are located in the "runway" field behind the school, meaning that they are close by if we want to use them with our lessons and they range from 50cm to 1.00m, so will suit all standards of riders who are ready for the challenge of cross country. We have fairly strict rules with our cross country course due to safety, so anyone who is using it, either in riding school lessons or as a livery must have a Level 3 or higher body protector on and a hat to current safety standards. If a rider in a group lesson does not have a body protector, they will need to stick to doing flatwork in the field if their lesson is doing cross country. We will also be able to offer Stage 3 exam training around the course. Group lessons will be slightly delayed in using the course as we need to ensure the staff have ridden and helped all the school horses around the course as some of our younger school horses have no experience with cross country jumps as they have never seen them. We have also put in some ditches and "bumps" for some fun for our younger members.
Our stabling is all traditional style and stables range in size from 10ft x 10ft to 16ft x 14ft. The school horses occupy the northern three rows of stabling and liveries occupy the older south facing courtyard. We have 38 stables on site, allowing for school horses to stand in during the day (and stay in during the evening if necessary) and liveries to follow their own specific routine. There is a wooden tie rail in the middle of the courtyard area, and livery storage boxes are found outside the stables.
We have 3 tack rooms, 2 feed stores, 1 feed room, a clipping area, a wash bay and staff accommodation on site in a static caravan. This allows for riding school and livery tack/feed to be kept completely separate and all tack/stores are within easy reach of the stabling areas. We also have toilets and a lecturing/tea/coffee room in portacabins on the yard and have recently upgraded our reception and office.
We have 120 acres of grassland at Oldfold, split into 19 fields. The average field size is 4 - 6 acres, with a smaller "fatties" field for our chunkier residents during summer, and a foal field (situated 20 metres from the office and staff accommodation). When we took over the lease at Oldfold, the fields had not been properly managed and were full of weeds and ragwort. We immediately implemented a grassland management programme, where fields are rotated with summer/winter turnout, ploughed and reseeded, and haylage crops are grown. We now produce over 150 bales of our own top quality haylage and have ploughed and reseeded over 50% of our grazing, helping to rid the farm of weeds for the future. Enormous thanks are due to John Rugg, one of our directors, who has invested a huge amount of time and advice into our grassland management programme. Our fields are all enclosed with top quality post and wire fencing (top wire electric) or drystone dyke and are maintained to a high standard by a local contractor. Gates are stainless steel five bar models , some with double gates to allow for easier access. Our fields also all have automatic troughs (either heavy duty plastic, or original stone. We have a large hardcore track that runs around all fields, allowing for car and tractor access, but also creating a lovely walk for parents who like to walk their dog or take a bit of exercise whilst their family are riding. Non-members are also welcome to come and walk around the farm, however it should be noted that fields that contain horses should not be entered.
Each riding school horse has a full set of fitted tack, an outdoor rug, a headcollar and grooming equipment. As a training centre, we have a vast amount of equipment for practical and theory use.
Membership of the club entitles our liveries to use any of our equipment on the understanding it is returned in good condition.