Join this friendly community for instant fun, learning and confidence with your horse
Hankering after your Pony Club days, or think riding clubs are just for kids? Adults like you are getting in on the fun, too, thanks to British Riding Clubs, with clinics, mentors and camps to enjoy
FOR HORSE-MAD youngsters, being part of The Pony Club is one of the best ways to make friends and try new things. Going to camps, entering your first show and maybe even trying mounted games together, you and your pony improve your bond, hone your skills and make lifelong friendships, all in the safety of a supportive equine community.
Once school and your teenage years are over, however, you might notice your fellow members becoming younger, and it’s easy to feel you’ve outgrown the whole thing. They say all good things must come to an end — but do they? Whether you’re a former Pony Clubber, started riding in adulthood or just want a new gang of like-minded friends, there’s a riding club out there for you.
Finding the right fit
There are hundreds of clubs up and down the country, but it’s important to find one that not only attracts fellow grown-ups, but fits in with your lifestyle. “I live on the Dorset/Hampshire/Wiltshire borders, so there’s a huge selection of clubs,” says Your Horse reader, Amy Walden. “But I wanted something that was predominantly adult that I could also fit in around my job. “I work full-time and I was finding that a lot of clubs have clinics and get-togethers during the day, which wasn’t right for me. Luckily, I found Shillingstone & District Riding Club. Every Friday night, they offer riding from 6.30pm until 8.30pm, so it’s perfect for me.” Another consideration is the events that the riding club has. Before you sign up, write a list of your goals and what you want to do with your horse. It’s no good choosing a club that caters mainly for happy hackers if you want to progress your dressage career. “We have a mentoring system at Wittering,” says Tracey Matthews, chairman of Wittering Academy Riding Club in Cambridgeshire. “Members are allocated a mentor who’s a trainer that they might not otherwise get the opportunity to ride with. They can then contact them for advice and receive subsidised lessons with them. It’s a great way to progress in your chosen field with your horse. “Along with lessons and clinics, we also hold regular competitions in showjumping, dressage and Le Trec at a range of levels. The emphasis is on having a positive experience.” In fact, joining a riding club can be your first port of call if you want to progress in your competitive career. Clubs are a hotbed for holding weekly events, including area and national qualifiers, as well as team competitions in various disciplines. “A lot of our members who started off quite nervous have gone on to compete and be really successful,” adds Tracey. “We’ve got everyone from novice riders to those competing nationally.” Riding clubs are a great way to help you relax and enjoy your horse. One riding club in London, Trent Park Equestrian Centre, not only offers a riding club solely for those aged over 18, it also has a monthly jaunt to the local pub on horseback. Along with fun rides and group hacks, you might also find a club that gives you
It’s I a great way to progress in your chosen field with your horse
and your horse the opportunity to get away for the weekend. “We run a Le Trec weekend,” adds Tracey. “We have a training day on the Friday and compete on the Sunday, using a range of obstacles. This is brilliant for building bonds between horse and rider — and between the members, too.”
Another added bonus of joining a riding club is that you’ll meet people who share your passion for horses. Find the right club, and the support system around you and your horse can help you achieve great things. “Before I even joined, I was invited to a club event to see what it was like,” says Amy. “Everyone was very welcoming and the place had a lovely atmosphere. “I watched some arena cross-country the other day. My heart was in my mouth, but I hope that one day me and my horse, Teddy, will be able to join in. If anything, I feel like this is the place to help me achieve it.” With members of a variety of ages and from all walks of life, you’re bound to meet loads of like-minded friends and enjoy learning together. “We offer group lessons as it’s a great way to learn and receive encouragement from others,” says Tracey. “It’s ideal for riders wanting to progress in a companionable and supportive environment.” Many clubs also host regular social events, such as quiz nights and dinner dances, giving you a great excuse to brush that hay out of your hair and get your glad rags on. “Once a year we try to host an annual party for everybody to get together,” says Tracey. “It’s a great night to celebrate achievements and see everyone. We’re all friends.” “I attended a BBQ with my riding club a few weeks ago,” adds Amy. “Having only joined a few months ago, it was a great opportunity to meet everyone properly.”
Riding clubs offer a whole new social scene for you (and your horse!)
Riding clubs offer opportunities to train in fun, supportive groups
Amy a nd Teddy are looking forward to embracing all the activities at their riding club
It’s not all work in the saddle! Riding clubs are great places to socialise, enjoy a natter and even a cheeky glass of Pimm’s