September Newsletter

Hi everyone and welcome to the September newsletter! We thought a nice pic of Hamish would be appreciated – just because Hamish makes everyone happy ☺ 


Firstly, a lovely update in that Martin and his wife Kirsty welcomed a baby boy in the middle of August – he’s called Myles and mum and baby are doing well and settling in at home with Martin and daughter Ada. 

Martin went onto paternity leave on the day Myles was born and has had his full two weeks and is now back for two weeks doing just a Thursday and a Sunday before he returns full time after that (hopefully not too sleep deprived!) Best get saving for a first pony now Martin! 


With the timing of Martins paternity leave, it leaves us a bit tight to do our annual assessments in September, so we are going to push them to the first week of October (before the schools break up) to ensure we have all our coaching staff in and available to assess/coach. So, we will run assessments from Saturday 1st October – Thurs 6th October inclusive. As per normal, we will assess most of our group lessons, but will skip the advanced ones this year (Bronze upwards) as with the advanced lessons they benefit more from being assessed every couple of years due to the requirements in each standard. That week will be the only week we have staff in place to assess, so if you are unable to ride in your group lesson that week and wish to be assessed, then you will need to book a private lesson to do your assessment in (just let us know at time of booking that you want to do your assessment). 


We have a variety of activities on in the October holidays for everyone! 

We are running beginner (Dartmoor Dazzler) Pony Stars from Mon 17th October – Thurs 20th October inclusive. We have six spaces on the ridden part of this course (10a.m – 2p.m) and ten spaces on the grooming/handling only sessions (10a.m-12p.m). The idea of splitting them into riding and handling only is that the cost is then very variable to suit every budget. 

For the ridden course, you need to book for all 4 days and the cost is £175 (including the 4x hour group lesson). If you need a Dartmoor Dazzler pack, then it costs £25 but if you already have one then you don’t need one obviously! 

For the handling only sessions you can book any number of days from one to four and each session costs £30 for the two hours training and grooming. Again, if you need a pack then you pay the £25 for it. 

For the second week of the holidays, we are running Novice (Welshie Whizzers) in the same format: 

Mon – Thurs the 24th Oct – 27th Oct (including riding lesson) from 10a.m – 2p.m – you need to book all four days and cost is £175. Or you can do the grooming/handling sessions only for £30 per day for one to four days. Again, if you need a “Welshie Whizzers” pack then it is £25 for it but if you already have one, you don’t need another! We are also going to run a dressage competition on Monday 24th October – the same format as the one we ran in the Summer holidays with an Intro and a Prelim class. The children who are taking part in Pony Stars will be given the first choice to take their “Pony Stars” pony for the dressage too, then if they don’t want to do the dressage, we will open bookings on those 6 ponies to other members. 

The dressage competition costs £30 to enter. 

We will be taking bookings for the Pony Stars on Monday 12th September at 10.00a.m and then we’ll open bookings for the dressage on Tuesday 13th September at 10.00a.m. 

A £70 deposit (for the ridden courses) is taken on booking and full payment for dressage and any Pony Stars individual days is taken on booking. 


We are very aware that the cost of living crisis is starting to affect everyone with power costs, fuel costs and everyday essentials leaping up in cost. Our ethos as ARC has always been to make horses accessible and we are doing absolutely everything within our power to try to avoid having to increase prices dramatically to cover the huge increases in costs we are experiencing. Everyone is struggling with the cost of power going into the winter, but as a guide, our electricity bill averages £4000 per month in winter (prior to price increases) – it’s going to be a scary amount this winter and there is a limit to how much we can afford as a not-for-profit club, without increasing the cost of riding. But we’re going to try! 

We are trying to address this on several fronts – we are working with our liveries to reduce wastage of things like haylage and to limit when the lights are on (within reason – you won’t turn up and be issued with a head torch ☺) and we are working hard to control the cost of our supplies of simple things like hand towels/soap/bedding e.t.c. 

We also need you guys, the riding school members, to assist us to keep prices down – by ensuring you are booked in correctly and cancelled out correctly for your lessons. After Covid, we reduced our lesson capacity on feedback from coaches and members – we now aim to average 6 riders in a group lesson (prior to Covid it was 8) so we have already increased the actual value of what we are providing (for same price). However, cancellations or no shows are still proving costly to the club. 

Our cancellation policy is 24 hours – if you cancel within that 24-hour period you will lose your payment so if you have a block booking card, we will sign off that lesson and if you pay week to week in advance you will have lost the payment. 

Block booking cards are a discounted payment method for paying in advance for a block – therefore they need to be purchased in advance not a few weeks in arears. The final change that we are making is that we are no longer going to be offering “free cancellation” for Covid reasons (still free if cancelling outwith 24 hours) – we ran for 2 years with no charge for Covid cancellations to ensure we supported public health advice as much as possible and encouraged responsible testing and isolation, however with isolation periods changing, testing advice becoming less stringent and Covid now being a virus that we have to live with as standard, it is time to change that policy in reflection of the increased cost of living and our desire to cap lesson pricing.  Tightening up on our cancellation policy is a way to reduce lost income, rather than having to increase prices so the short story is if you all help with this, then you do your bit to keep your club’s costs down. We completely understand that nobody likes cancellation fees, but they are a necessity if we are going to try to keep lesson prices the same over what will be a very challenging winter. 

So do please remember when we have to implement a cancellation fee – we’re not doing it to be greedy – we’re doing it to try to avoid a lesson price increase for everyone. Thanks! 

The Story of Jaffa Cake

Jaffa is a 10-year-old 14.2h.h. skewbald cob gelding who we bought from Cavan Performance Sales as a 4-year-old. Many of you won’t have seen Jaffa before because………. Well…………. He’s a pretty useless school horse ☺ Although he is very cute. When Sally arrived at Cavan sales he was standing proudly at the sales entrance (where the Irish park the ones they really want to sell) so she looked him up in the catalogue and pretty much decided that he was very cute, with a very cute name (Jaffa Cake) so she was buying him (yes – do as Sally says not as she does when buying horses!). 

Jaffa was reasonably behaved at the sale when doing his ridden display, so Sally bought him for £900 and he arrived back at the yard with Kevin. He initially worked in lessons reasonably well – flat and jumping, but he was always quite forward. As time went on, he got a bit more forward and a bit more forward – not because he was nervous, but because he sort of knew if he went fast not many people wanted to ride him and he often got to go home early from a lesson ☺ 

Now clearly this is not an ideal thing for a riding school horse whose job requirements are to be patient, forgiving and happy to carry a few different riders. Even more embarrassing for Sally, she bought Jaffa originally because he was a great size for RDA. There is literally zero chance of Jaffa ever doing RDA – unless we have an RDA rider at some point in the future who wants to do their lesson mainly at a gallop. 

So, then we had to find Jaffa another job to do as he was way too young to be bored standing in the field – enter Ali, a pretty experienced rider who works at our vets and is totally trustworthy and in love with Jaffa. So, Ali now rides Jaffa regularly and we also use him for Stage 3 and 4 lunge training and SRUC lunge training (he likes lunging). It’s a case of finding the job to suit the horse – Jaffa may well return to the riding school when he is older (and more sensible) but for now he’s happy with his lot. 

Some other interesting facts about Jaffa: 

He is the boss of the school boys field – he may be small but he’s fierce! So much so that he is currently fenced into his own section of field next to them as he was seen to be bullying Hagrid (the boss’s favourite) which did not go down well so he is having some time out and will return to his group next week. 

He had a sarcoid on his side when he was 5 years old and had cream applied by the vet to remove it, which left a pink bit of skin which needs sun cream on in summer. 

He loves Kevin – not because they came over from Ireland together, but because Kev plays rough in the field with him. 

He hates “Percy the Pigeon” when he is being ridden – Percy the pigeon seems to sense this and always comes to watch the lessons that Ali rides Jaffa in ☺ 

He ranges from being a wee bit lazy, to turbo depending on what mood he’s in. He has a great sense of humour and whilst he is actually the least spooky horse on earth, he regularly pretends to be frightened of rain, wind, water buckets being filled and Percy the pigeon. He’s a real laugh a minute is Jaffa ☺ 

We love him though and wouldn’t change him – their individual personalities are what makes horses so cool – even when they have “a lot” of personality – like Jaffa ☺  

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