Happy New Year Everyone! A huge thank you to everyone who put presents under the tree for our horses and ponies – they were totally spoiled on Xmas Day with carrots, polos, turnips, and apples! You will all notice that we have put the tub of treats on the walls of the indoor schools so do feel free to grab one of the treats for your horse at the end of your lesson if you like.
Well, we certainly had an interesting time over Xmas with staff testing positive for Covid! The main thing was that all our staff remained well and relatively symptom free, but it meant that we ended up having to close the riding school when we were meant to be doing skeleton lessons. Hopefully everyone understands that we did this to try to ensure no transmission, but also because we need minimum staffing numbers on to run lessons. Thank you all very much for being patient when we had to cancel and thanks for all the messages of support for our staff team! By the time this newsletter is sent out, the team who are isolating will either be out of isolation or in their last days of it, so fingers crossed that’s our only Covid challenge dealt with for next few months!
Ellis, one of our staff members, decided in November that she was going to purchase a new horse for herself, so we offered to take on ownership of Cyrus, her previous horse. Cyrus has previously had an operation on his back, treatment for gastric ulcers and needs quite specific management so it would have been hard for him to find the right private home, so we agreed we would take him on for the riding school. Cyrus is a well-educated, 17.1h.h. bay teenage gelding and has been a brilliant horse for Ellis for last few years. He likes jumping and flatwork and will be starting to appear in lessons in January as we wanted to give him a little holiday when we took on his ownership in December. Cyrus will likely do all standards of lessons from novice – advanced so is another good big horse to add to the team. Welcome Cyrus!
Our Pony Stars sessions continue on a Saturday (10.30a.m with Liam) and a Monday (4.30p.m with Laura) throughout January so if your child is interested in taking part then please ask at reception or email email@example.com Pony Stars is suitable for 12 years and under and is really good at building the children’s confidence around the ponies and with each other. Sessions cost £15 per hour and the initial Pony Stars pack which includes their book, stickers and bag is £25.
We will also continue to run our weekly horse care/educational sessions with Sally on a Friday evening and a Saturday afternoon and topics are listed below:
Fri 7th Jan (5.30p.m) – An introduction to the BHS Stage 1 for anyone interested in taking the assessment. The Stage One is open to anyone who is aged 13 and over and you don’t need to be a member of the BHS to take part in it so it’s a great qualification for both teenagers and adults and can be split into care and riding or you can do both.
Sat 8th Jan (4.30p.m) – How to build a grid (this is one that we should have delivered in December so those who were booked for that session will be credited over).
Fri 14th Jan (5.30p.m) – Equitation theory – covering the scales of training and application of aids (which leg whereJ) – this one will be suitable for all standards of rider.
Sat 15th Jan (4.30p.m) – Different types of horses and different ways to work with them. Every horse is so different, and it is our responsibility to work out the best way to partner with them to get best result for horse and rider.
Fri 21st Jan (5.30p.m) – Equine business management – crisis management. How do we prepare in equine businesses for disease outbreaks or other situations that affect income (Suitable for those working towards Stage 4 as well as anyone else with an interest).
Sat 22nd Jan (4.30p.m) – Working without stirrups – why do we do it? When should we do it and what things should we be careful of?
Could we please make a polite reminder that you need to let us know if you are attending your group lesson each week – even if you pay by block booking card and we keep it in reception for you.
Whilst we are more than happy if you would rather not actually come into reception, you can let us know by email or you can also catch the receptionist when they come round to note down which horse you are riding in your lesson. Parents do please be aware that if you are dropping your child off for their lesson, you need to come and let us know that they are here and whether they are coming the next week. This also allows us to check that your payment is up to date and organise a new block booking card etc. if you need one.
SRUC have now finished their first block with us and completed the first of their units and the course has been a great success so far. The timetabling of the student’s attendance fits in well with other things we do at ARC, and it has made for nice variety for our staff. The students have now successfully completed their “Care of the Competition Horse” and “Equine Selection” units and now go onto study “Equine Facility Management” and “Equitation Theory” in the next block alongside “Equitation” and “Lunging” which carries on over all blocks. If any of our school leaving age members are looking for a career with horses, it would be a good idea to have a look at some of the SRUC open days for the Equine course so you can consider it – they are all on YouTube so just search for SRUC (Craibstone).
We had some great sessions for our riding school members with Caroline (Physio) and their riding school coach at the end of November. The sessions worked really well – the rider did a half hour session with the Physio first to discuss their position and any physical strengths/weaknesses they had noticed and then after they had worked with the Physio, they swapped over to the coach who could put all the great work on their body into practice helping them sit correctly. The spaces were limited as we wanted to ensure everyone got maximum benefit from their session but look out for a new date as we would hope to arrange another one in late Spring for riding school riders.
Here’s hoping for a great 2022 for everyone!
The Story of Dan
We first met Dan in 2003 – he was a riding school pony at the original riding school at Oldfold that we moved to. We think Dan was around 8 or 9 in 2003, which makes him the grand old age of nearly 30!
Dan was a lovely riding school pony when we first met him, although he could be a little “pushy” to handle J he regularly used to put his head down and run off when we were turning him out to the field and if he wanted to come in from the field, no gate could stop him – he used to just barge through them all.
Dan had done a bit of competitive showjumping before he joined the old riding school and then when we took over the lease in 2005, he was one of the first “original” ones we bought – we bought 14 of them in total. So, we have known Dan a very long time and seen his work and management change a lot in that time!
When we first owned Dan, he used to do more intermediate/advanced lessons as he could be quite forward and had a fairly big jump. As time has worn on, we have reduced his workload so that he takes life a bit easier – so he does flatwork only and predominantly beginner lessons. He is very gentle in his old age and very patient with small riders, although he will tell you quickly if your reins are too short or strong – he’ll just pull them a bit longer!
One of the funniest things about Dan is that although he is old and takes life easy now, he can still be pretty wild in the field. He goes through more rugs than most of our horses as he plays pretty rough with his pals – whilst you’d imagine an older horse keeping out of trouble, when the younger lads (Mario/Kevin/Jaffa) are wrestling about and playing, Dan is normally the first one to join in J He can regularly be seen chasing one of them, or encouraging them to bite his neck!
An amazingly sound pony, Dan has only been off a couple of times with foot abscesses in his whole career – he is a real advert for good vet and farrier care in his old age.
He also hates having to queue or wait to get his hay – a wiley old guy, when the tractor arrives with bales (the school boys get 2), Dan hides at the far side of the field and lets all the boys wrestle over the first bale of hay and then sneaks quietly over to the second feeder and gets the whole bale to himself once its delivered.
Dan has been worth his weight in gold over the years for the number of riders he has taught and if he didn’t like working so much, he’d likely have been retired a couple of years ago, but Dan refuses to stay in the field – he likes his job too much!