The British Riding Clubs Association really does have something to offer for all amateur horse riders, not least a sizeable social scene with other local mad horsey folk. Whether you’ve owned a horse before or not or been a Pony Club stalwart since year dot there’s something for all ages to join in with.
We caught up with Halesworth & District riding club Chairman Michele Hurst to find out a bit more about riding clubs and what goes on…
Whether you enjoy happy hacking or doing affiliated competitions your local riding club offers you a way to get involved with a local network of horsey people who will provide lots of support. You’ll also have the opportunity to compete at a level to suit you in a friendly environment. Many of these competitions will be held locally meaning that you won’t have to travel far making competing more affordable.
Annual membership with H&D RC is just £20 for juniors and £25 for seniors and we have well over 100 members now, most are adults but the kids joining us now are super competitive - our members range from 11 to 70 years! We put on about 10 shows a year and have training for something most weeks and lots of social events too. Classes are split at the lower levels between juniors and seniors and at the higher levels they are mixed. Everyone is really supportive and wants to see each other do well. It’s just a lovely community, helping each other out where possible with transport or offering rides if anyone has a lame horse so that everyone can get involved.
There are various national championship shows to aim for throughout the year so everyone has something to aspire to and most people have a chance to qualify at the various regional qualifiers for each championships. There’s a 3 day event with roads and tracks at Swalcliffe in August, the Festival of the Horse at Aston le Walls in May, winter dressage championships plus Interdressage leagues and endurance riding - there lot’s going on! These shows are superbly run, very professional and a great occasion we love qualifying for.
In order to qualify you can compete in a team or as an individual so there are lots of opportunities to reach a championships show. We list all the shows and regional qualifiers on our facebook page and see who is available for which dates so people self-select a bit and those who perhaps wouldn’t be competitive at affiliated qualifiers have plenty of chances to be part of our teams.
The social aspect of a riding club is equally important to the riding especially when competing at a national championships! Our top tip from the H&D RC gang is to fill your cool boxes with ice so you have plenty of cold wine to hand once you’ve finished competing – no one wants warm prosecco 😉 Other items that the club couldn’t do without are chairs and tables (lots of them), a BBQ & plenty of food plus we love a set of fairy lights round the pop up gazebo. Oh and obviously don’t forget to take your horse stuff…but the best thing about competing as part of a club, if you do forget something you’ve got plenty of people with you to borrow from!
Our riding club member Debbie Weymouth has had great fun fulfilling her new found competitive bucket list with superstar Ronnie over the last 2 summers and has made such a great group of friends that several of the “coffin dodgers” went to Portugal together on a riding holiday. We’ve seen the pictures – though we have been told that what went on in Portugal stays in Portugal so it’s best not to share the photos publically haha!
With over 500 clubs throughout the UK why not look at what your local club has to offer and make a whole new community of friends for you and your horse?