The 17th-Century listed buildings make for a picturesque entrance to Ledston Equine Centre, once the home of Robert Hall's Fulmer School of Equitation which, in its heyday in the 1970s under Monty Mortimer, boasted the reputation of being one of the premier sites for equestrianism in the north of England.
Many of Yorkshire's top show-jumping stars honed their skills in Ledston's large indoor school and in the past it has been a training venue for British dressage, show-jumping, and pentathlon teams.
Sadly, Ledston eventually became rather a sad reflection of its former past. But after five years of hard work and renovations, the new team at Ledston has made great strides in returning it to its former glory, with the intention of putting it back on the equestrian map.
The site is now home to Ledston Equine Clinic – a 100 per cent equine practice with three vets led by Nigel Haizelden.
The practice serves a wide area of west and north Yorkshire and has diagnostic and in-patient facilities at Ledston.
In addition, regular veterinary clinics are now being held at Park Farm Equine Therapy Centre between Spofforth and Harrogate. Regular specialist farrier (Graham Harland), dental (Robert Ruddy), and saddle fitting (Karen Moxon) clinics are also being hosted at Ledston, and Janet Ellis has her Equine Physiotherapy practice based there.
In addition to the equine vet practice, the stables, indoor arena and gallops along with 88 acres of land make up Ledston Equine Centre – a livery yard which is home to around 35 livery horses.
Leanda Sleightholm manages the yard with a team of five staff.
Lucy Rich is in charge of event management, including the new regular weekend dressage and show-jumping competitions which have got off to a flying start in the last few weeks.
These make full use of the latest development – the renovation of the 65x30m indoor school with its 325-seat viewing gallery.
A new Prowax Competition surface provided by Andrews Bowen has transformed the arena, which is to be formally opened on December 14 by Lucinda Green. The sand latex fibre and wax surface provides a consistent riding surface which is dust free and requires very little maintenance.
Lucinda will be holding a clinic at Ledston during the day to be followed by a lecture demonstration at 7.00pm which will provide a rare opportunity to see a six times Badminton winner, eventing World Champion, and British Eventing Olympic gold medallist in action in Yorkshire.
Many top riders have visited Ledston to give lecture demonstrations, including John Whitaker, Geoff Billington, Billy Toomey, Jeanette Brakewell, Oliver Townsend, and William Fox-Pitt.
Carl Hester will also be bringing four of his top horses to Ledston in the New Year. The dressage rider will be demonstrating his training methods from novice level up to Grand Prix using four horses from his Gloucestershire yard with the help of Charlotte duJardin, who is based with him.
The star studded team is:
Valegro, a five-year-old Dutch-bred horse by Negro, who is the novice champion and the Shearwater supreme five-year-old; Fernandez, a seven-year-old by Florestan, who is on the world-class pathway with Charlotte; T Movistar, another seven-year-old, by Chronos, who is the advanced medium champion; Dolendo, who is owned by Carl, and is the British champion at grand prix with his rider Spencer Wilton.
"I'll be demonstrating how I train horses, and what the judges are looking for at every level," said Carl
"I describe dressage as gymnastics for the horse. They have to be supple athletes, not just going through the motions. You can sum it up in four words – stretching, collecting, bending and straightening."
Carl, who has 18 horses in his string, three of which are at Grand Prix level, is preparing for a big 2008.
"I will be concentrating on the Olympics, so competing and getting qualified is foremost in my priorities. Then I'll be bringing on the next batch of horses who will be trained with the London Olympics in mind."
In his career, Carl has amassed a record 41 national dressage titles, and has been National Champion five times. He's competed in three Olympics, four European Championships, one World Equestrian Games and has reached one World Cup dressage final.
In the lecture demo, which is being organised by Harewood Combined Training Group, Carl will train Charlotte on Valegro and Fernandez, and ride T Movistar. After the interval, he will work through every movement of the Grand Prix with Dolendo, culminating in riding the full test.
The demonstration is at Ledston Equine Centre, near Castleford, West Yorkshire on Saturday, January 12, starting at 2.00pm. Tickets are 30.
More information: Helen Scott on 07711 021 047 or Sue Emsley on 07721 730957.
Tickets for Lucinda Green on December 14 are 25. Send together with a SAE to: LEC Hall Lane Ledston WF10 2BB or email:Lucy@ledstonequine.com.
Further details: www.ledstonequine.com. Tel: 01977 668200; Ledston Equine Clinic: 01977 668777; Ellis Physiotherapy: 01977 517798.
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