A Chat with Ryders Farm Equestrian Centre
Can you tell us a bit about Ryders Farm EC?
We are a family run business started in 1995 by my Mum, Sarah Fitton BHSI. We then progressed to buy the small riding school centre of less than 20 horses and have since developed into a highly commended, large riding school with 35 horses and ponies and a brilliant team of staff.
The business has also diversified into a small, busy livery yard with 26 horses and an on-site Farm Shop and Cafe. We are also the base for Salford City College Equine Department, we work with several local schools and clubs to offer horse riding sessions including Manchester Metropolitan University Riding Club.
We are primarily a grassroots riding centre and our vision has always been to give people access to our brilliant equestrian world and the magic of horses and riding.
Why did you decide to join the ABRS+?
We have always been strong advocates for the licensing and high standards of riding schools and equestrian establishments and believe it is our responsibility to educate the future generations of horse owners, riders and supporters into positive, professional and practical standards of horse care and welfare.
We have a 5 Star Local Authority approval and are BHS Approved. As we have other approvals, we just never really considered joining another approvals scheme as we assumed there was just a lot of crossover and were unsure what else it could bring to our Centre.
We spotted a brilliant offer by the ABRS to join back in March and had seen some really positive and proactive conversations they were having online and their Rosette scheme was something we were really interested in and thought it was worth joining to see what it was all about!
How has being a member helped you and your business?
We really enjoyed the ABRS conference! It was brilliant to meet other people in the industry and hear different voices from riding schools around the UK. We learned lots from this day and came away full of ideas and inspiration.
Obviously, the rosette awards have been a huge bonus for us also and we have really made them work at our Centre for our team and riders to enjoy. Cathie and George have been a brilliant support as well and it has been great to chat with them about our ideas here and working together.
You have already run a huge number of Rosette Awards since joining the ABRS+, what do you/your clients like about them? How do they fit in with your business?
After speaking with Cathie, I think we have used the rosette awards in a pretty unique way at RFEC! We had a lot of interest and feedback from our clients and team that meant we wanted to incorporate a clearer way to monitor and track progress and celebrate achievements of our riders – from the very beginning!
Initially, we knew children especially wanted their achievements to be recognised and celebrated by all, lots of our riders wanted a physical award so they could show off in school and discuss their hobbies with their friends and family. We then designed an initial beginner course to take riders through the foundations of riding and handling horses. This course is aimed at new beginner riders who want to start riding and learning about horses. We also feel this course will suit those riders who are returning to horses after a long break and want to ease themselves back in with confidence.
This course is designed as the perfect foundation for riders to start a comprehensive understanding of horsemanship with riding and horse care/stable management.
Following the course, opportunities for progression onto our regular lessons can then be discussed/facilitated. We picked a set of eight ABRS Rosette awards starting with leading a pony to ones like, sitting trot, that encompass the basic skills we teach our riders at the start of their journey and riders can work towards achieving these awards throughout their course – we have to give a special shout out to our wonderful coach, Becky, who is absolutely amazing with our beginner riders and always makes her sessions so engaging and fun that our riders have a brilliant start to their riding journey!
We have since realised, our teen and adult riders are just as enthusiastic about tracking their progress and achievement awards to celebrate their milestones. Horses should be fun, and we think it is brilliant that our riders are encouraged to understand a task and seek to learn and achieve this with their horses and within their lessons.
The more we can educate new riders about horsemanship and correct methods of horsemanship, the bigger difference we can make in promoting a safe and positive equestrian sport.
Do you have any exciting plans for this year?
Our riders will know, we always have something coming up! We have just got back from our Summer break, so all the team and horses have enjoyed a lovely week off. As a family business, we didn’t get any rest, this meant painting the whole yard, redesigning the tackroom and a long list of those ‘odd-jobs’ to tick off (finally!) It did give us a good opportunity to touch base and regroup for the next year ahead.
We have just welcomed the new enrolment of students from Salford City College and are keen to promote our partnership into promoting and educating young students who are interested in progressing into the equine career pathway.
We are also the first to admit, we went a bit quiet on the social media/online front – something I don’t recommend at all, it is a brilliant place to keep the conversation going with your riders and keep everyone involved, so we are really excited to start sharing some new content online about all the exciting things happening at RFEC.
We have also just welcomed some new ponies to our riding school team and we are looking forward to getting to know and work with them more and watch them flourish in riding school life.
This year, we have had a brand new reception renovation which we were so excited about! It looks absolutely brilliant and is a much more practical use of space to welcome our riders. We are still in the process of decorating and adding lots of information and resources for our riders here.
Those Christmas Elves have made a reappearance – December 2021
With the popular ‘elf on a shelf’ getting children all over the country keeping an eye out for their antics every morning in the run up to Christmas, several of our centres have discovered ‘elves fishing in the auto waterers’ and ‘elves on the anvil’ amongst other things!
Our members including Bourne Valley Riding Stables, The Manston Riding Centre, and Greenways Stables have joined in the fun. Some of the elves were even spied ‘helping’ on the yard, and being taken for a Christmas hack! Not sure what the ponies make of it!!
It’s a great way to engage with your young riders, especially if you’re able to update your social media with where the pesky elves are cropping up each day!
| Donation for Member Centre created through Coop Local Community Fund – December 2021
What fabulous news for ABRS+ members Eat, Sleep, Ride, CIC, receiving a cheque for £2013 from the Coop’s local community fund. Eat, Sleep, Ride is an approved riding school offering lessons and hacking to the public, but in addition are a social enterprise targeting people experiencing mental health problems, those that have suffered abuse, lived in areas of high deprivation and other challenges such as drug/alcohol addiction.
Thanks to the Coop and their community members, an incredible £2,013.08 has been donated and will be to put towards new agility equipment for our horses, ponies and young people, which will compliment the facility and EFL services at the centre.
The Co-op Local Community Fund supports projects across the UK that their members care about. Every time our members buy selected Co-op branded products and services, we’ll give local causes a helping hand.