Our latest blog, on horse riding, is written by Catherine Ross, VIS:
St Margaret’s create a Riding Team
In December 2015 I saw the ‘Just For Schools’ show jumping events advertised on the BSJA (British Show Jumping Association) website. I decided to ask Mrs Norval if the school would be interested in these events, as we have many able horse riders within the school. Mrs Norval agreed that it would only be possible if a committed team were to be involved, and since then Mrs Norval has given her full support towards horse riding. Never did I (or anyone else) think that just 5 months later we would have qualified for the British Show Jumping National Championship at Stoneleigh Park. However, sadly due to injury we were not all able to compete as a team. Therefore our ultimate goal this year is the qualify again to enable the team to travel together and compete as a team.
There are weekend shows for the team to compete in every month depending on the show schedule. From March, the ‘Just For Schools’ events start every Wednesday evening. To be able to compete, a lot of work goes into the preparation of your horse, your equipment and your own fitness which is very time consuming. In the evenings, if I have other activities on, then I always make sure all the horses are organised in the morning or make arrangements with my brother.
What next for the St Margaret’s team?
Our team currently sits 3rd in the league in the whole of Britain, and therefore we are planning to compete in the National Championship. However, to be able to make it to the National Championship at Stoneleigh Park, sponsorship would be almost a necessity for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Looking for sponsorship
Horse riding is an expensive business! We are currently looking for corporate support to allow us to convey a more professional image through sponsored numnahs with school logos on. If you might be interested in this, please do get in touch with Mrs Taylor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
How my love for riding began
I have always been involved with horses from a very young age as my Mum always had horses; I first sat on a horse at the age of just 6 weeks old. I learnt to ride on a little Shetland pony called Maizie, who my brother and I used to ride before getting my own pony Pebbles (he was my absolute favourite). Pebbles was the happiest and most content little pony you could ever meet, and the bond I made with Pebbles is irreplaceable; he will forever be my favourite. He certainly wasn't a super showjumper though, and when I tried to jump him he ran right through the jumps! Since then I have been fortunate enough to progress through a couple of ponies onto the horses I now ride, with the help of different trainers and ultimately the constant support from my Mum.
Why I love horse riding
Horse riding is a good sport to be involved in as there is a fantastic horse riding community in Aberdeen which allows people to make friends out with school, as well as being involved in communities such as the Pony Club. The best thing about horse riding is the bond made between the horse and rider. It gives you confidence, trust and a lifelong companion. As with most sports it is extremely satisfying and fulfilling when you have finished a jumping round and really enjoyed that short amount of time; the focus is spent in the ring and it feels like a different place with everything else blocked out; it is all about the horse and you. Unlike other sports it gives you the trust and connections with a 1 tonne heavy and unpredictable animal in which you place your trust in.
Looking after horses commands a demanding routine which varies depending on the time of year:
||Alarm goes off
||I go straight out to the stables and feed the horses, and whilst they are having their breakfast, I take the dogs for a run in the fields.
||My brother and I start by putting 4 of the horses out into the fields (after changing them into their outdoor rugs) and preparing their stables for the evening. This includes mucking them out, filling hay nets and replenishing water buckets. The feeds are then made up in advance.
||I get ready for school.
||We leave home and stop to check our other horses on the way to school. While travelling to school by car, I have my breakfast and get some homework done.
||I arrive to school and enjoy the school day.
||I usually leave school and go to ride my horse that stays in livery.
||I am picked up and taken home (and do more homework on my way home). Some evenings we have a riding lesson at about 8.00pm.
||When we don’t have riding lessons, the horses that are out will come in and I will re-do the stables that my horses have been in all day whilst they go out in the field to stretch their legs. By this time the other horses will come in and be groomed before their rugs are changed. Brushing up of the stables and outside will be finished off before the horses are fed.
||I then walk the dogs and feed them.
||The horses are then finished off with their final check of water and hay.
||I will go inside for dinner before having a shower and going to bed. My remaining homework will also be finished.
||If we have a riding lesson we may not be home until about 10pm and therefore it will be a later night. In the summer, as the day light becomes more prominent, we are able to ride before and after school, which means getting up earlier and going to bed later.
I am very fortunate that my brother helps out especially when I am competing and on the days that he does not attend college.
To join the St Margaret's riding team, or to find out more, please contact Mrs Norval, Head of P.E.