SEVEN riders at Shipley Lane Equestrian Centre near Alnwick achieved their Riding and Road Safety Award last Saturday, a 100 per cent success rate.
The riders, aged between 18 and 60, all passed theory exam and demonstrated their ability to deal with road hazards on a simulated road route before applying their skills on the public highway.
One of the successful candidates, Jane Brook, has been driving for 40 years but only took up riding four years ago at the age of 56.
“I was really nervous about the test at first,” she said. “But the training course run by the British Horse Society was excellent.
“ I would really recommend it to anyone who takes their horse on the road.
“And I guess I’ve shown that you’re never too old to learn.”
According to the British Horse Society (BHS), there are more than 3,000 road accidents involving horses every year in the UK and some of them fatal. The majority of these accidents involve riders aged between 30 and 64, people who may well have been riding for some time and who have probably passed their driving test.
“Drivers round here are generally very good at slowing down and giving horses a wide berth when they see them”, said Jane. “But riders also need to take responsibility. I am surprised that some riders don’t wear high visibility clothing. One of the things I learned on the course was that you can be seen three seconds sooner if you are wearing high viz gear and that means an extra 40 metres stopping distance for a car going at 30mph.”
Kay Stafford, centre manager at Shipley Lane, was delighted with the success of the course which she organised for livery owners and trainee staff.
As chairman of the Northumberland British Horse Society Committee, Kay is also keen to develop more opportunities for riders across the county to achieve the Riding and Road Safety Award. “We have recently appointed a new riding and road safety co-ordinator onto the committee and hope to see many more award successes in the future.”
The successful training course comes hard on the heels of Kay’s own recent achievement of the British Equine Tourism Ride Leader Award. This qualifies Kay and her assistant instructor Suzanne Wesson, who also achieved the award, to take groups of riders on treks, hacks and full day trail rides.
“We are a hard-working team at Shipley,” said Kay, “And we want the very best for our horses, our livery clients and our riding school pupils. That is why we all put so much effort into continuous training.”
At the same time as Kay and Suzanne were gaining their awards, Alison Rushby was successfully completing her training as a Franklin Method teacher.
Alison teaches at Shipley Lane and explained why she chose to do the London based course. “I’m already a Centered Riding instructor and love its approach, with its emphasis on helping the rider to use their body and mind effectively. Franklin Method grew out of work with dance, but it is brilliant for anyone wanting to move better, including on horseback, where unwanted tension is often a problem. It has deepened my understanding of how the body operates and is helping me be a more useful teacher.”
Shipley Lane is a BHS approved riding school, livery yard and facilities centre. At the most recent BHS inspection in April the centre received the highest possible approval rating for many aspects of its work.
The inspector praised the Centre’s safe working practices and also highlighted for particular commendation the quality of riding instruction and associated facilities.