December Newsletter

Yes, we felt we had to stick a Santa on the December newsletter…… so here goes with a Christmassy newsletter!


So obviously we have to start with the most important item – the horses and ponies Christmas treats J (Freddie made sure we wrote this part first!) As per normal, our Xmas trees will arrive soon in the coffee area (Ali sneaks them up on the day Sally is off J) and our members are invited to leave small treats for the horses and ponies under them. You can either wrap them and put the horse/ponies name on it (or a few if you want) or you can just put an unwrapped gift for all the horses and ponies under the tree. We always ask that if members want to do a present for the horses and ponies, it’s a small one as times are tight for everyone and if everyone buys the same type of thing, then nobody feels their gift is too small e.t.c.

So, on our fluffy friends Santa list are:

  • Carrots (whole)
  • Turnips (whole)
  • Apples
  • Any kind of horse specific treat – mint crunchies/likkits e.t.c.
  • Polos
  • Extra Strong Mints

We would advise that if you are gifting them mints or treats, you can put them under the tree as soon as you like, as these “keep” well – if you are going for “fresh fruit or veg” then leave them till around 10 days or less before Xmas.

On Xmas Day and Boxing Day, we then take a wheelbarrow full of their presents up to their fields/stable and it has become quite a thing of excitement for the horses and ponies – they already know it’s Xmas as their routine is different and it’s like a stampede down to the fence when they see the barrow coming! We post video/pics of them getting their Xmas gifts on Christmas Day on our Facebook page, so anyone who wants to see them can have a look.


As per normal, our staff go onto a skeleton rota over Xmas and New Year so that they can all have additional time off after a busy year. At this point we go down to skeleton lessons so on the days we are open, your lesson may be at a different time with a different coach – see dates below for what is on.

Fri 23rd Dec – no riding school lessons
Sat 24th Dec – closed
Sun 25th Dec – closed
Mon 26th Dec – closed
Tues 27th Dec – Unicorn Day/lessons
Weds 28th Dec – skeleton lessons
Thurs 29th Dec – skeleton lessons
Fri 30th Dec – no riding school lessons
Sat 31st Dec – closed
Sun 1st Jan – closed
Mon 2nd Jan – closed
Tues 3rd Jan – skeleton lessons
Weds 4th Jan – skeleton lessons
Thurs 5th Jan – skeleton lessons

We return to normal diary/timetable on Friday 6th January. On the days we are closed, one of our Senior staff (Sally/Martin/Laura) are on duty each day to do horse care but the horses and ponies enjoy some well-deserved time off too.


We have had to change from the standard “last Monday of the month” diary opening for private lessons as the last Monday of the month is Boxing Day. So, for the January diary only, bookings will open on Tuesday 20th December at 10.00a.m and follow the same booking process as normal – this also gives a bit of time for those of you who want to book some private lessons in the remaining school holidays in January.


We know Xmas is a busy time for everyone and often our members have a break for a week or two from their group lessons whilst we are on skeleton lessons and they are busy with Xmas parties e.t.c., so a polite reminder to everyone to make sure that they are booked in for their group lesson on their return and prepaid for them so we can be sure to have a horse/pony ready for you.


Sally is running a training session in December which can be attended online or in person (only live online for these options not recorded we’re afraid).

Friday 9th December @ 5.30p.m “what makes a good riding school or livery yard”? Sally will cover legal requirements and best practice for riding schools and livery yards and the session will be beneficial both for those who are thinking of buying a horse (and therefore looking for a livery yard) or looking for a riding centre. The session is suitable for both recreational riders/owners and career professionals who may be looking to start up a riding centre or livery yard.


As we previously mentioned, Deeside RDA moved to ARC last year when they lost their previous home. Initially Valerie Cooper was coaching their sessions as they needed a coach too, but Valerie was then unable to continue coaching them, so step forward ARC coaches! Our coaching team all recently did their RDA coach training and Sally and Liam were then the first two to do the RDA assessment and are now qualified group coaches. We already did a lot of work with disabled riders through our therapy sessions, but due to the set-up of RDA, if a separate RDA group need a coach, our coaches have to do a different qualification (on top of their BHS ones) to coach them. All done now though, and Liam will be starting to coach the group in the new year – it’s a great way for ARC to keep supporting RDA groups and ensuring riding remains accessible to everyone.


We continue to “feel the pinch” at ARC, with increased costs in most supplies – electricity, feed, bedding e.t.c. for the horses, however as you are aware, our strategy since the start of the cost-of-living increases has been to try to control costs to prevent having to increase lesson prices. It has been very challenging to do this, with many aspects being addressed from changing feed/bedding suppliers to really educating everyone about turning lights off and most importantly, cancelling where possible outwith 24 hours for lessons. The good news is that we have now run two “winter” months – October and November and we had a board meeting this week where Sally presented on the financials to our board and the decision was made to keep prices the same for December and January, with the hope that we can continue with the same prices for most of the Winter. A big thanks go to you guys – our members, who have been understanding about cancellation charges and why we are implementing them. It would have been far easier just to put lesson prices up £2 or £3, but we feel quite strongly that cost increases at a time like this may affect some of our members ability to keep enjoying their riding or livery, so we are continuing to work to buck the trend of price increases to the end user.

We hope you all have a brilliant Xmas when it comes and some relaxing time doing whatever you like for Xmas!

The Story of KoKo

So, the pictures above show just how much a horse can change as it matures! The top picture is KoKo last year (aged 12) and the bottom picture is KoKo when we bought her (aged 3). KoKo was 14.2h.h. when Sally bought her at Cavan Performance Sales (Ireland) and could be described as athletic and “leggy”. Now we all love KoKo dearly, but as she has aged, “athletic and leggy” is not how you would describe her!

So, Sally first met KoKo at the performance sales (same one where she bought Henry and Spring) ten years ago – it was Sally’s first trip to Ireland to buy horses and she bought Henry as a jumping schoolmaster, Spring as a youngster for Sally to bring on and sell (to Ali as it happened) and KoKo as a large “pony” for the riding school. KoKo was in the catalogue as a 4-year-old and when Sally looked in her mouth, she was a bit dubious as to whether she was in fact a three-year-old – turned out she was and she still had a fair bit of growing to do!

KoKo was a bit of a rogue when she first started working with us – she is an appaloosa and whilst colour shouldn’t mean a certain temperament, quite a lot of appaloosas can be quite “thrawn” J KoKo tends to be! She spent quite a bit of the first three months we owned her on her back legs, trying to go back to her stable rather than the arena or field, but she slowly realised ARC was a good fun place to be and her nicer side became more obvious. KoKo has matured into a very big girl, whose body is slightly too big for her legs – so we are very careful with the type of work she does – she doesn’t’ jump any big heights as she has been treated for arthritis in her hocks previously. She also (quite oddly for a horse) hates being out in the field – if you turn her out, she paces up and down the fence line regardless of whether she has any friends or not, so she prefers to live in and who are we to argue with her!

Her full name is “Princess KoKo” after a Native American Princess, but she is not very Princess like in that she likes to bang her door constantly with her foot to demand more food, she has a huge appetite and is constantly on a bit of a diet and she is one of the dirtiest horses we own – mucking her out is literally like mucking out elephant poo each morning.

Despite her sheer size (and huge confidence) she believes she is very delicate and fragile, and she doesn’t like other horses passing her too close in the indoor – she will slow down and try to go the other way. She has a very, very short stride (as she has such short legs) but she is really comfortable to ride and is very well schooled on the flat. Her favourite riders are those who have soft hands and ride her forward into a light contact to help her stretch her (rather short) neck out. KoKo is a huge character and a big part of the fixtures and fittings at ARC and despite all her little quirks, we love her dearly!

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