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Sarah Peters dons her green wellies and heads off to Wellington Riding in Hook to discover what it's like to work at the most enviable riding school in the county
Wellington Riding is one of the countrys biggest and best-known equestrian centres. Set in 300 acres of the Duke of Wellingtons beautiful Hampshire estate, it is a British Horse Society Approved Riding School and Livery Yard with an enviable reputation.
Despite its pretty, countryside location Wellington is a very busy place. Lessons are run six days a week with workshops, equestrian holidays and events throughout the year.
There are eight riding arenas ranging from the cavernous 70 by
30-metre Dukes Hall to the mini school for the very youngest riders. Stables for over 100 horses and ponies are located on site with countless fields and pasture land for outside grazing.
Running a riding school and stables of this calibre is not an easy task and Wellington employs all sorts of professionals to care for and train the horses, teach the students, arrange the events, plan the courses and maintain the grounds and equipment. It is definitely a team effort and each department plays a vital role in making Wellington Riding a success.
Here we meet the people from restaurant chef to riding instructor.
Yard Manager and Trainer
Ciara has been at Wellington since 2001. Originally from Northern Ireland, she has worked in racing, hunting, eventing and stud yards during her career. As Stables Manager she is in charge of the yard, its 100 horses and some 30 staff.
I oversee the day to day business of the yard, which includes managing the stable staff and making sure all the horses are fit, healthy and cared for correctly. I have to make sure the yard itself is in good order (I am constantly sweeping) and I have to co-ordinate all the vets and dentists.
Its very important that great care is taken of all our horses. The school horses are very precious to us and need to be kept happy and healthy in their work. The livery horses are also hugely important as someone else is charging us with the task of caring and exercising their own personal horses.
Ive been at Wellington for nearly 10 years. I love everything about my job, its different every single day.
Steve has been a chef at Wellington Riding for 21 years. He cooks for between 40 and 70 people a day in the Nosebag Restaurant.
The kitchen is a happy place. Its not stressful and angry like people see in kitchens on television. We have a good laugh and I wind people up, but they give as good as they get. We work well as a team though and none of us does just one job, I will wash up, no problem.
Funny thing is I dont like to cook at home; I tend to go out to eat most of the time. I just cant face it after being in a kitchen all day.
Also strange is the fact that Ive never ridden a horse in my life the closest Ive got is a donkey ride at Blackpool when I was younger. Ive been at Wellington for 21 years and theyve never got me to sit on a horse... and they never will!
School Yard Head
Sam is from Lymington in the New Forest. Shes loved horses since she was about three years old and had her first pony at 14. Shes been with Wellington for four years. As School Yard Head shes involved with the school yard horses and looks after the working pupils (trainees).
We have about 70 horses in my yard and each one has different needs. We have to muck-out the stables, groom the horses, feed and water them plus organise the tack room and exercise the horses.
I also look after the working pupils; these students come to work with us to learn about caring for horses. Its a very hands-on job. To work here, you have to love horses and be totally dedicated. You need to be able to cope with rain, sleet, snow and the hot summer heat. With horses, its all or nothing.
Caroline is originally from Penzance, Cornwall, and joined Wellington Riding in 2000. She has two horses, Fly and Munchkin. She is the Pony Club Liaison Officer, an instructor and also a British Horse Society Riding & Road Safety Trainer and Examiner. My role is to promote the adult and childrens holiday programmes at Wellington. In any one day I could be liaising with suppliers, designing the brochure, working with overseas contacts to co-ordinate foreign school visits and attending trade events to promote the holidays.
When the children are with us on a holiday, my day starts with checking everything is running smoothly and making sure everyone and everything is where it should be. I get involved with the children when they are not riding in a pastoral sense and have lots of dealing with the parents.
Looking after 40 children is a stressful job but its rewarding, especially when we get a nice group that gel and have so much fun together. The best bit of the job is at the end of the week when they have their Show Day. All the parents come in and watch a demonstration.
Quarry Farm, Empshott Green, Empshott, Liss, GU33 6HU.
Excellent facilities, individual training and hacking is offered plus tailored livery packages
and individual dressage training.
Tel. 01730 858333
Bagnum Riding Stables
Bagnum Lane, Ringwood,
Hacking through the New Forest, walkouts for children, day rides and late night summer rides, pony club and lessons to suit all standards.
Tel. 01425 476263
Fort Widley Equestrian Centre
Portsdown Hill Road,
Portsmouth, PO6 3LS.
BHS Qualified Instructors, with lessons for novice to experienced riders and discounts for riders with a disability. Facilities include outdoor manege, fully floodlit indoor school and a thriving
Tel. 023 9232 4553
Pegasus Riding School
Broad Road, Monxton,
Andover, SP11 8AT.
Lessons for children and adults in a friendly atmosphere. The owners have a passion for horses and genuine interest in their clients.
Tel. 07787 168398
Tanglewood Equestrian Centre
Boyes Lane, Colden Common, near Winchester, SO21 1TA.
A small and friendly school offering quality instruction with emphasis on having fun in a safe environment. Instruction is offered in flatwork, show jumping, cross country with a wide range of horses and ponies to suit
Tel. 07885 286892 or 01962 711788