THE British Equestrian Federation has unveiled its plans to leave a lasting legacy beyond next year’s London Olympic Games. The aim is to capitalise on the interest generated by the Olympics and get more people involved in riding.
In January, the BEF will launch two projects. One is an online portal providing information and the other is Take Back the Reins, a project that will be run by riding centres to help people either to return to or start riding from scratch.
One of the centres leading the way in this is Grove House Stables at Misterton near Doncaster, run by Andrew Stennett and his family. They have been running one of the pilot projects and Andrew was at Olympia last week for the official launch.
“There was a lot of interest and it was all really positive and quite uplifting,” said Andrew.
The stables are now halfway through running their second Take Back the Reins course. Participants ride for an hour a week for seven weeks. They do not need to have had any previous experience and the lessons are tailored to suit individual needs. The ultimate aim is for people to be able to enjoy riding in the open countryside.
Helen Dakin, who lives in Retford, recently completed the first course and is continuing to ride. Her two children have lessons at the stables but she felt she needed a confidence boost if she was to take up riding again.
“I used to ride and I worked with horses from leaving school when I lived in New Zealand,” said Helen.
“When I came to England I worked with show horses and event horses but then I got married and had a family, so I hadn’t ridden horses for quite a while.”
Helen admits she felt nervous about getting back on a horse again for the first time.
“But I enjoyed the lessons and I found that as an adult, I took a lot more in. I got more interested in the schooling side and now it’s my ambition to take a dressage test. The kids both think it’s great.”
Andrew Stennett said they have had an excellent response so far and a wide selection of people have applied to do the course.
“We must be hitting the target groups,” he added. “I think it’s a great legacy product.”
Pilot projects have been run in a total of seven centres and the programme will be open for other riding centres to register their interest to take part from January 1.
Also starting in January will be the BEF’s online portal. It will have information to help any ability of rider, from beginners to professionals, to find information about the sport. This will cover everything from volunteering to coaching or horse ownership, through to how to choose a suitable riding centre and what to wear for your first lesson.
A ‘where-to-ride’ page will be included, which will list riding centres throughout England.
Andrew Stennett and the BEF are offering one Equestrian Post reader the opportunity to take part in the next Take Back the Reins course at the stables.
If you have always wanted to take up riding, or feel you need some help to get started again, this could be your chance.
All you have to do is answer the following question: Where is Grove House Stables Equestrian Centre?
Email your answer to Andrew at: firstname.lastname@example.org giving your full name and address.
Leyburn-based event rider Jodie McGregor,17, is on track for success in 2012 after taking part in a recent BEF England Excel Talent programme performance camp.
She is one of 11 young event riders to have been selected for this new programme.
The training camp, at Vale View Equestrian Centre, covered all aspects of riding and competing, plus veterinary care, farrier, rider fitness and nutrition and sports psychology.
“It was a very intensive two days but I learned a huge amount,” said Jodie.
“I was especially interested to learn about how factors such as rider nutrition and fitness can play such an important part of performance.
“I took a younger horse and I found the dressage and showjumping training really helpful, I came away with a lot of new ideas for schooling over the winter.”