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After almost 80 years in Walton on the Hill, the Mid Surrey branch of the Pony Club faces an uncertain future. Here, we speak to committee member Sabina de Gaston-Cooper, who is leading the Appeal Fund campaign, to find out more

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Abridged version published in Surrey Life magazine June 2010


After almost 80 years in Walton on the Hill, the Mid Surrey branch of the Pony Club faces an uncertain future. Here, we speak to committee member Sabina de Gaston-Cooper, who is leading the Appeal Fund campaign, to find out more



Tell us a bit about the Pony Club
Our branch enjoys a consistently high membership of around 220 children. Our popularity is due to excellent facilities we have built in our field over the last 20 years.Our huge barn provides essential storage and indoor facilities. Our cross country course gives riders confidence in safe surroundings. The community spirit is wonderful and many members enjoy the benefit of being able to hack from surrounding livery yards.


Why are you losing your home?
The landowner is selling the field and would like vacant possession when our lease expires in April 2011.


What can people do to help?
To secure our future, we need to raise the 480,000 asking price. Donations are very welcome. The Pony Club is a Registered Charity (No 1050146) and Gift Aid may be applied. People can also help by running a fundraiser or donating goods for raffle prizes.


Do you have a top tip for young riders?
Nothing worthwhile in life comes easily. Never, ever, give up. Dont blame your pony if things go wrong persist until you get it right.


Whats your favourite event in the Surrey horse world?
The Mid Surrey 12 Years and Under Open Show, which will be held this year on Sunday June 13 in the Pony Club Field, Hurst Road, Walton on the Hill. Classes range from the serious disciplines to fun, and our fancy dress parade is legendary! Its a day out for the whole family and there is always a great atmosphere. Sadly, this year could be the last 12 and under show in our field, which would be a loss to the whole equestrian community, not just our branch.


Where do you most enjoy hacking in the county?
In my mnage with the gate shut! I am a reluctant rider I just try to help my daughter, Chantal, keep all her mounts exercised.When hacking with Chantal on Christmas Day another rider appeared - accompanied by two dogs wearing bells and reindeer horns. My pony took one look and bolted!Ive had better days hence I prefer the mnage.


Whats your favourite tack shop?
I enjoy two excellent local tack shops. Ashurst Farm Feeds provides a helpful delivery driver, who lets me know when hes on the way, and Faye at Equessentials in Brockham gives me lots of advice about feeding, supplements and bitting.


Why should people get involved in the Pony Club?
For young people who join, there is cost-effective riding instruction, horse care/management and road safety training. You can also try everything from showjumping, cross-country and dressage to mounted games, pony racing and tetrathlon. Best of all is the annual camp summertime fun with your pony. What could be better?


Meanwhile, for the adults, help is appreciated with everything from paperwork to frying sausages. There is plenty of opportunity to become a jump judge, first-aider or course builder. The more you put in, the more you get out.


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