October Newslettter

Hi everyone and welcome to the October newsletter – we are a bit late with the October one as we wanted to get assessments all done and completed before writing it so that we could provide some general feedback in this newsletter.


So, we assessed every junior lesson and every adult lesson that was red or below – the reason for only doing these lessons is because feedback from our more advanced adult lessons is that they would rather be assessed every couple of years rather than every year – this makes sense as once you are dark blue and above, it often takes a few years to move up a grading.

We were really impressed by the standard that everyone was riding at, and everyone will be able to pick up their assessment grading forms (if they haven’t already) from reception this week. Do please remember – the assessments aren’t a test, and they aren’t designed that you automatically change grading colour each year – there are criteria for each grading which we assess you against and some of these take quite a while to achieve!

Here are a few tips on your riding/things that we noticed as part of the assessments:

Work without stirrups – there really is no substitute for working without your stirrups! It helps to develop an independent seat, which is crucial – this means you are not reliant on the reins to balance and makes it much easier for the horse/pony to go forward in balance. As you will see from our grading levels (they are all on the website) – working without stirrups comes in at most grades – it starts with just short periods of walk and trot for yellow level and then increases to walk/trot and canter by dark blue. So, if you are aiming for dark blue/light blue level, then we need to see you cantering without your stirrups. We will always make sure you are on a sensible horse for it initially, but you really do need to pluck up the courage to give it a go and hold onto the saddle till you develop your confidence.

Schooling Whips – Schooling whips are the longer sticks that you may use for flatwork. They are designed to “tickle” the horse behind your heel to get a reaction – absolutely never to smack the horse with. Riders who are carrying schooling whips should do so for flatwork only, not jumping – so if you want to progress to carrying a schooling whip, then you need to bring both sticks (short and long) along with you for your lesson and then choose the stick depending on activity. Schooling whips are no use for jumping as they end up tickling the horse by mistake when you release the rein e.t.c. over the fence.

Stirrups – when you are adjusting your stirrups, you need to do so with your foot in the stirrup – this is the safest way to do it. Whilst you may feel it’s easier to kick your feet out of the stirrups and pull it about, if the horse were to be worried by this or something external frightened the horse, you are at risk of a fall because you don’t have your feet in the stirrups. So, once you are at a standard you are adjusting your own stirrups, then make sure you do it with your foot in the stirrup – your coach can show you how to do it if you struggle.

As a last point on assessments, we were happy with the group lessons that everyone was riding in and felt everyone was in the correct lesson for their standard. If you wish to move lessons or ride at a different time, then have a chat either with your coach or with Ali in reception and we can keep you right as to which lessons are the correct standard for you.


We are pleased to note that despite the extreme cost increases we are experiencing (in particular fertiliser, horse bedding and electricity) we are still managing to keep the cost of lessons the same. We have put several measures in place to try to control the cost of riding – all of which result in some hard work being done by our staff team, but we feel quite strongly that increasing the cost of riding is not the first option we should take at a time when everyone is struggling with costs going up for the end user.

To date, we have not filled an empty staff role (Sally is mucking out in mornings to cover that role), we have changed supplier for our feed and bedding to reduce costs and we are limiting which lights we put on and when. Sadly, we can’t guarantee that we won’t need to put prices up at some point over the winter, but it will be the last option we go to after all the other measures detailed above. As part of our measures, we have tightened up on cancellation fees – whilst nobody likes cancellation fees, if we can reduce lost income through those then it is another measure that we can use rather than a price increase across the board. Our policy has always been that if you cancel within 24 hours you lose that payment, we are just implementing this at all times now. As before, if you cancel outwith 24 hours, we are happy to carry the payment forward. The reason for the cancellation period is that we can’t normally fill a slot if cancelled at short notice and often the horse you have been allocated has been brought in, groomed and tacked up by our staff so we have to keep the charge for that session. Do please remember when we charge the cancellation fee, we are doing it for everyone’s benefit – to try to avoid a price increase across the board and please be polite to our reception staff about it!


Gizmo reached a big milestone this week when he was turned out for the first time in a field since he broke his pedal bone. We are delighted that Gizmo coped well with the small field turnout for a couple of hours so he will keep going with this for the next fortnight and fingers crossed! Many of you will have noticed that “Big Kev” is missing from lessons – Kevin has unfortunately damaged a branch of his suspensory ligament (lower leg in front) so has been on 2 months box rest and is being scanned again this week. His return-to-work prognosis is “guarded” and the next stage of his rehab is likely that he will be turned out into the field for 6 – 12 months to allow time to hopefully heal.


BHS Grampian are running an equine career evening on Tuesday 8th November at SRUC, Craibstone campus. The event is aimed at everyone who may be interested in any type of equine career and more information can be found on the BHS Grampian Facebook page. It should be a really useful evening for those still in Education and also those who are looking for a career change/more information on equine careers. A link to book attendance (it is free of charge) is below:




Horses are all unique with their own personalities and one of the most unique is our friend JR 😊

We met JR when he was a 5 year old in 2013 when an RDA group that used to use our facility at ARC wanted to purchase their own horse with some of their funds. We agreed to help source one and we found JR at a dealer’s yard near Glasgow – whilst he was quite green, he had a lovely temperament and Sally really liked his neck conformation (it’s particularly upright/ uphill) which means he makes riders feel really comfy and secure in canter. JR came up to Aberdeen and did a month’s training with Sally riding him to get him established in all the basics, then he did some training in RDA sessions with one of our staff riders to ensure he was happy with the activities that are carried out in an RDA session. The plan was always that he would be owned by the RDA group, and he would work in lessons with ARC to cover his livery costs. The RDA group coach at the time bought JR with their own funds to secure him and then the purchase (by RDA) never quite happened meaning he stayed owned by the coach. The RDA group then told us that JR was being noise sensitive in their sessions and didn’t seem to like the work they were doing with him, so the group coach then very generously donated him to ARC instead with the request that he continue to work with other RDA groups and riders in the future.

We then started providing a facility for the ARC Hippotherapy Group and when we moved to Anguston, the other group didn’t move with us – by this time we owned JR (having been gifted him by the group coach) and he was a massive asset to both our therapy riders, but also our riding school members.

JR does beginner/novice standard lessons and is incredibly good at them – he has a really bouncy trot (surprisingly bouncy for his type) and we all adore him as he is literally the daftest most friendly horse we’ve ever met. He likes to pretend he is scared of the arena advertising boards (meaning he can fall in and be a bit lazy) and he isn’t a huge fan of big jumps.

He is incredibly sweet natured, and this makes him an excellent therapy riding horse – he works with the ARC Hippotherapy Group, Deeside RDA (who joined us last year) and he is very good at his job. Working with JR every day brings a different laugh each day – our favourite thing about him is that he walks up to his field in the evening at a snail’s pace and then when he has his headcollar taken off inside the gate, he goes off flat out to get to the hay bale, whilst whinnying to all his pals. He is also quite a vocal horse in the stables – regularly whinnying at anyone going past – not because he wants food, but because he wants a pat – he is literally an equine Labrador.

He has the memory of a goldfish, a slightly confused expression on his face most of the time and we can never decide whether he isn’t very intelligent, or if he is so incredibly intelligent, he has worked out that pretending not to understand something is a good way of getting out of work 😊

They definitely broke the mould when they made our friend JR!

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