Feb 08 2012

All About… Harrow & District Riding Club

Welcome to the Harrow & District Riding Club (affiliated to the BHS Area 6)

We are a friendly club which holds regular competitions which include dressage, handy riders, jumping and le trec. There is also the opportunity to represent the club in inter-club competitions.

We also hold regular social events including talks given by people from the equine world, annual BBQ and hack.

Members are non-horse and horse owners alike and some have ridden at Suzanne’s and Patchetts in the past. All club competitions are held at Littlebourne Equestrian Centre in Harefield where school horses are available to non-horse owners for competitions.

Membership is available to non-horse owners and horse owners, 17 years or older who can walk, trot and canter. (An assessment may be required).

Harrow and District Riding Club actually has a longer history than you might imagine and goes right back to the 1960s. At this time there were lots of riding clubs in this area and some of our current members were involved with both the Wembley Riding Club and the Harrow and District Riding Club. When the Wembley Riding Club closed Geoff joined Harrowand District – Richard and Debbie were already members. The base stables at that time was Suzanne’s Riding Stables in Harrow Weald; it was a glorious place to ride with acres of open country for hacking out in, a purpose built cross country course, two outdoor arenas and even an indoor school which we used to really appreciate when the weather was bad. They were even gracious enough to allow club members who did not own horses to use their riding school horses to compete on. Our events used to be on Wednesday and Saturday evenings, after the horses had finished with their school work – members agreed that they would untack these horses and turn them out in the fields after the event.

Times at Suzanne’s Riding Stables were great. We were able to offer a good range of events using the school’s facilities – starting with dressage and riding tests, using the courses that had just started to be published by the British Horse Society, plus various styles of jumping, barbecue rides, and an annual “Roads and Tracks” event that we still hold today.

Original members tended to be those who had come across at the start of the club, but they were soon joined by people who had lessons at Suzanne’s, as well as those who kept their horses there on livery. If you remember riding, or learning at Suzanne’s, do drop us a line, especially if you have any photos that you would like to include on this website. We would love to hear from you.

As the years went by some of our members left, but often they stayed involved with horses – some started to teach and some became judges. Some still judge our events today and we often spot familiar faces at regional events. Two of our early members even got married! Suzanne herself became the club president, providing The President’s Trophy which we still award to this day for the rider with the most points in our popular Handy Rider events. The 1990s saw new trophies come in to our schedule including the Geoff Moss accumulator for the rider who gets the most points in an extended three day event to cover dressage, show jumping and cross country.

Then one day in 2004 we came to a competition and learned the sad news that the stables was closing. We almost had to close the riding club too, but at the winding up meeting a few of us got our heads together and decided that we wanted not to close, but to try and continue, to find new pastures where we could still ride and compete. Which we did!

Now we are based at Littlebourne in Harefield. Though they do not have an indoor school they offer everything else we could ever need and still allow the hire of horses to riders who want to compete but don’t yet own a horse of their own. Even better they hold their own open dressage and show jumping events throughout the summer which several of us compete in.

In 2006, just two years on from our almost end, we were thriving – and we turned 40! We marked the occasion by doing a 1960s themed handy rider where all the objects we had to carry also turned 40 that year, and we had a go at a BHS Prix Caprilli course originally written in 1965; we even had a celebratory dinner up at the Grims Dyke Hotel opposite our original base stables.

We have always been keen on pitting our skills against riders from other clubs. We used to do the Pinnerwood Quiz, and the Lucy Oldfield, and we regularly sent members to compete at Trent Park and Park Farm in the 80s. We stopped doing this for a few years, but with new councillors came new inspiration to start with inter-clubbing again – now we do the Brendan Byrne and the Londonand South Eastern Championships. We have also had club members in the Windsor Sponsored Cross Country Obstacle Ride – a super event and a great chance to ride through the GreatPark. Our best result in an inter club event ? Well that would have to be 2007, when our livery team came third overall in the Londonand South Eastern Qualifiers, and our school horse team came fourth! We encourage all our members to compete in these events, whether or not they own a horse. In fact for the Brendan Byrne you cannot ride your own horse!

Recent additions to our own competitions calendar have been pairs relay jumping, and an arena based cross country; we note that they have started to do the latter at leading horse shows now! This year sees the return of two 1980s club favourites – the handy hunter trial and the pairs pas de deux.

As we approach our 50th year we look back at all these things proudly and remain in touch with lots of our former members. But we also look forward because there’s so much to be excited about! For instance there’s the London Olympics, new plans for our club, and the ever-changing world of horse sports, plus a welcome return to more natural ways of working around and training horses. It’s a great time to be a member! And we are sure that in years to come this will be regarded as one of the Golden Ages of the club…

Thinking of joining? Contact us at HDRCenquiries@hotmail.com. More details here.

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