Riding club’s windfall

Machars Riding Club, celebbrating its 25th year, is delighted to announce it has been awarded a lottery grant of £5500.

Thanks to the hard work of committee members and Maureen Rice from The Bridge in successfully securing the award from Awards for All Scotland, the club is delighted to have invested in professional timing equipment and specialist equestrian training.

Twenty-five years ago, local equestrian Hugh Paterson, of Kirkinner, who has been long-reigning and breaking horses and ponies as a passionate hobby since the 1950s, decided to put an advert in the The Galloway gazette asking if anyone in the region shared his enthusiasm for horses and wished to set up a riding club. Some 32 people turned up to the meeting at the Monreith Arms in Port William – and Machars Riding and Driving Club was born, with Hugh as chairman, Mary Wallace secretary and Janet McNeillie treasurer. Over the following 25 years, the success of the club has been due to commitment and hard work of all committee members.

Initially, driving played a large role in the club. There were many social hacking events and other equestrian disciplines catered for but show jumping has always been an important feature. In the old days, there were homemade rustic poles and wings made by Stuart and Michael Cochrane and, as the years progressed, the poles were painted and the equipment became more professional.

In 2006, Machars Riding Club became a recognised, affiliated branch of the national organisation, British Riding Clubs. Today, the club is also proud to have the backing and sponsorship of local businesses, with individual businesses sponsoring single competitive classes.

In order to take the club to the next level and broaden its appeal further, it was essential that the club seek to obtain professional timing equipment.

The club is delighted that part of the granted lottery funding, £4048, has assisted in the purchase of the timing equipment. Now the club can hold events on a more professional level and attract participants from further afield.

The club also promotes training and development of both junior and adult members. Some £1800 of funding was granted to provide training by recog- nised professional equestrians in show jumping, dressage, showing and eventing. The training clinics will be open to all members and the dates will be timetabled through the rest of 2011 and 2012.

The club has provided a springboard for some incredible talent. This has included horses and ponies brought on at the club that have gone on to compete at HOYS or as part of the British Eventing Team. Today, younger members are going from strength to strength, some just starting out competing BSJA, others proudly bringing home rosettes from important show jumping, eventing and dressage regional events.

The new equipment and the specialist training will enhance the ability and confidence of club members, enabling them to become improved riders, better prepared for competitions locally and nationally.

For more information, email: dinnans@btconnect.com or visit www.machars ridingclub.co.uk.