Posted on 22nd January 2020
In the spotlight this week is Grove Riding School. We spoke to David to find out more…
Tell us a bit about your centre:
There has been a riding school on this former dairy farm for over 40 years. The original director was instrumental in setting up local riding clubs and a keen member of the ABRS and we have been in charge since 2010. We are so lucky to be situated on a private estate, part run by the national trust, with miles of off road hacking and situated just minutes from the town centre and the M40. We have 35 stables with a mixture of school horses and liveries, an outdoor and an indoor arena and small xc course.
Our clients are from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds the majority of whom have no horse experience outside of the riding school. As well as lessons we hold regular Horse Therapy sessions as part of our Equine Connection project working with local care homes and elderly patients.
Why did you decide to become ABRS Approved?
The school was approved before we took over, but as new owners we had to re-apply. Our thoughts were that we wanted to demonstrate our dedication to being the best around and the ABRS approval scheme best showed that. It was tough meeting the criteria but that’s where the value is. The ABRS plaque actually has meaning.
How many employees do you have and what makes them so good?
We have many part time and casual staff, plus 4 full time and virtually all of them learnt to ride here! We encourage our students to go to college and work elsewhere first, but the fact they want to come back is very pleasing for us and means we can be consistent across all instructors and all standards.
We hear you are a keen horseball enthusiast? Please can you tell us a little bit more?
We are a little bit horseball crazy here at the grove!
Horseball is a game likened to real life quiditch! It is played in a standard arena with 4 players on each side using rugby and basketball skills to try and score through a 1m hoop 3.5m off the ground. It was invented in France to help riders have fun whilst practicing their dressage skills.
We started by looking into ways of encouraging boys to keep up their riding as we tended to lose them in the initial years of lessons and also to bring fun into our teaching. What we found was by using some of the horseball techniques we actually improved our classes and progressed the riding skills of our clients of all ages. Little did we know that within a year we would have a club playing in the Great Britain Horseball leagues!
If someone was interested in having a go at horseball but didn’t live locally to you, who should they contact?
In this country the sport is controlled by the British Horseball Association. Their website has details of qualified coaches all over the country who are very keen to come and help set up a have a go session local to you. https://www.britishhorseball.co.uk/approved-coaches
We know that you love all your horses and ponies, but if you had to choose just one, who would it be and why?
Oh that is mean! We have some amazing horses and some fabulous ponies some of whom have been here for 30 years. If you really twisted my arm I would probably say my 22yo Polo pony, Morena, on whom I played Horseball last season. This is just because she is a proper character! She will not be caught unless it is normal time to come in in which case she stands at the gate pulling all the head collars off and throwing them in the mud until you get there. On the pitch she is great fun and stands perfectly still when required but when we are substituted off (there are 6 riders/horses rotating around over the 20min game) she paces, jumps around and digs holes in the surface until we go back on!
Thank you so much to David for giving us an insight into life at Grove Riding School!