Sutherland Riding Club is based in the Highlands of Scotland. We have activities for all, from beginners to advanced riders. We also welcome non-riders and family members who would like to learn more about our passion for horses and support our many events throughout the year. We hold regular training clinics and competitions all year round, working closely with top level trainers to provide tuition at an affordable level for club members. Affiliated through British Riding Clubs to the British Horse Society.
New members are always welcome: 2019 Membership Application form
Message from the Chairman
We are now almost midway through the Riding Club year and I hope you are all managing to get to some of the activities the Club has organised and are enjoying your riding. As ever, I urge you to let any member of the Committee know of a clinic, ride or social get-together that you would like to help plan or run. Please check the Riding Club calendar to be sure you aren’t missing anything!
The Scottish Riding Club Championships at the end of September are well worth entering....if nothing else, it is a great weekend away with your Riding Club friends and their horses.
At the beginning of the year in the piece I wrote for the Riding Club Website and Facebook page I ‘teased’ you with mention of a chance encounter with a famous equestrienne and a suggestion she had – I think it only fair to continue the story and tell you about how she was so influential in the progress of my riding life.
The estate I grew up on, and where I was lucky enough to ride the stalking ponies, was Balmoral in Aberdeenshire and the lady who was in the car with my father was none other than HRH Princess Anne.
Having watched me struggle with a strong, greedy pony she said she would like to speak to me about riding, why I enjoyed it etc. The following day I went to the castle and spoke to Princess Anne. We discussed how much we enjoyed riding and how much we loved horses (I was 11 at the time so don’t imagine the conversation took very long or was very intellectually stimulating!). She said that the beloved pony she had ridden all through her teenage years at Pony Club, Hunter Trials etc was now outgrown (a minor understatement as she was currently competing internationally on Purple Star, Doublet and Columbus) and was doing nothing but standing in Windsor Great Park getting bored. She asked me whether I would like to borrow him and keep him for as long as I enjoyed riding him....... not a hard question to answer!
The pony in question was a 14 year old, 14.2hh Irish bred hunter pony and was called High Jinks. He, as you would expect was beautifully schooled, would jump anything and was a true gentleman and schoolmaster. I loved him and rode him until I had to say my final goodbye to him when he was 24 years old. I can still remember writing to Princess Anne telling her that I had put him to sleep and thanking her for the wonderful 10 years he had given me. He taught me innumerable, invaluable lessons and, to date, he is the horse of my lifetime.
Being loaned High Jinks had a somewhat bizarre ‘off-shoot’ – the Royal Family holiday at Balmoral for 2 months in the autumn and always bring a lorry load of horses and ponies up with them to ride. The Queen used to ride around the estate every morning and was accompanied by other members of the Royal Family and their guests and who all enjoyed the privacy and the freedom that Balmoral offered. The first year that I had High Jinks, I was approached by the Queen who asked if there was any chance they could ‘steal’ him back for the 2 months they were in residence as Princess Margaret, in particular, would ride no other horse. Predictably enough, I agreed and he was taken away to live in a field with all their horses for the duration. Her Majesty then reflected that it was rather hard on me being loaned a pony that was then taken away from me at exactly the time that I was on school holidays and would want to ride ...........
And there is the start of a new chapter of enjoyable and fun riding that I may bore you with next time.
...More to follow soon!