Saddling up for Olympics

THey always say that if you fall off a horse you should get straight back in the saddle so that you don’t lose confidence.

It’s taken Jeannine Hirst 15 years to pluck up the courage to try riding again after a bad fall left her with a broken collar bone, but she’s glad she did it.

She was encouraged to give it another go by a new riding programme called Take Back The Reins which is being piloted by a stables at Misterton.

The scheme is designed to get people riding again and to introduce new people to the sport in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics.

It is being piloted in the north of England at Grove House Stables which are run by Andrew Stennett and his wife Libby, with help from their teenage children Jack and Harriet.

Andrew, 41, said: “We were chosen to pilot the scheme because of our excellent facilities and the fact we have a cafe with cooked food and wi fi because it’s about the social aspect of riding as well and making friends.”

He said take-up of the six-week course had been “fantastic”, with a good mix of ages from all over the area being encouraged to take up the reins.

One of these is Jeannine, 38, of Rose Avenue, Retford, who said: “I used to ride but 15 years ago I had a very bad fall out on a hack when the horse rolled on top of me.”

“I wanted to build my confidence up to ride again, so that was one reason for doing this. The other reason was that I have three children and my middle one, who has special needs, rides.”

“The quality of the horses and the teaching at Grove House is really good, it’s been really inspiring and I’ve learnt to understand the horse more. I would love to carry on.”

Also on the course is Helen Dakin, 42, of Trinity Road, Retford, who used to ride as a child.

She said: “I haven’t ridden for about 18 years. Two of my children have started riding and I just thought I would give it a go.”

“I think I’m learning more now I’m older, I have learnt more in five lessons than I did in three or four years of riding because I’m taking more in and understanding it more.”

“I will definitely carry on riding.”

Take Back The Reins will get its nationwide launch by the British Equestrian Federation on 16th December.

It is hoped that the Olympics will also leave a sporting legacy and get more people riding.

Andrew, who lives in Misterton and will be watching the Olympic showjumping, said: “Hopefully people will see our equestrian teams do really well and think to themselves that they would like to ride in the countryside around here.”

“We’re keen for the Olympics to leave a lasting equestrian legacy locally.”

He has been riding for 20 years and the scheme, aimed at the post-16 age group, has included complete beginners as well as those who have ridden before.

It’s not necessary to have any riding equipment because it can all be borrowed from the stables.

Andrew said: “The scheme will be running all the way through to the Olympics and continuing on after. Horse riding is a great sport and equivalent to a work-out at the gym.”

*The course costs £112.75. To book a place call 01427 890802.