Iconic seventies venue Ledston ready for a big return as polo and driving take centre stage

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IN its heyday in the 1970s, Ledston Equine Centre was one of the North of England’s leading venues for equestrian events.

It’s large indoor arena, which was used as a training centre for Britain’s dressage, showjumping and pentathlon teams, attracted some famous names including the Whitakers, Harvey Smith and Geoff Billington.

Now Ledston is about to re-launch affiliated showjumping, following the completion of work on its old outdoor arena. The first two shows are scheduled for this weekend.

Nigel Haizelden, the centre’s proprietor, said: “We’ve just carried out a major refurbishment of our old outdoor arena including a new drainage system, a washed stone base, new membrane and a sand and rubber surface.”

Ledston is also hosting a Charity Open Day in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance on Saturday, November 5.

There will be carriage driving and polo demonstrations by Pat Cooper and George Carter – with the opportunity for people to have a go – farriery demonstrations, exercises by the West Yorkshire Fire Service’s animal rescue team and a dressage to music demonstration.

There will also be equine dentists, physiotherapists and saddle fitters available for people to talk to. The day will finish off with fireworks and a bonfire.

For more information go to www.ledstonequine.com; email centre@ledstonequine.com or phone 01977 668200.

If you enjoy Pat Cooper’s carriage driving demonstration at Ledston and feel like taking up this exciting sport, help could be at hand. Sport England is funding a new project designed to encourage “mature adults” to take up the reins.

The British Horse Driving Trials Association (BHDTA) has been awarded a £30,000 Sportmatch grant, the first of its kind given to any equestrian discipline, for its project Driving Back to Sport. The aim is to introduce 200 mature adults to carriage driving and sustain their interest in the long term.

Chris Hillman of the BHDTA said: “The event will hopefully increase membership, thus helping to ensure our sport’s future.”

For more information go to www.horsedrivingtrials.co.uk.

The NFU Mutual, British Horse Society and PRP Equine Rescue have got together to help raise awareness about safety among people who drive equestrian vehicles. Many vehicles are overloaded and horse owners do not take safety issues seriously enough, say the NFU Mutual.

This month is tyre safety month and they are urging horse owners to think about horsebox and trailer safety and make sure they check tyres. Here are their tips:

1) Check all tyres when they are cold and before every journey;

2) Avoid overloading your horse box or trailer – overloaded it is less stable, takes longer to stop and is more difficult to steer. It can also cause overheated tyres, rapid wear and increase chances of a blow out;

3) Check your tyres regularly – look for cracking, crazing or bulging; without regular use they age more rapidly.

4) Check tyre tread depth regularly – up to 3.5 tonnes, the minimum depth is 1.6mm, above this weight it is 1mm.