Saddle Club reopens its stable door after refurbishment
The Saddle Club has recently undergone a refurbishment and has reopened the doors to old and new members.
The club had been closed for a period of time due to staff shortages but now new life has been breathed into it with a new ménage (riding arena) and quad bike which will be used to roll and harrow the ménage, ensuring the longevity of the surface and drainage system.
The Saddle Club has been functioning for over 20 years but has a long history of use from the days of Alfred Rothschild.
When they were originally built in the 1880’s they did in fact stable zebras. It was also used as a housing area for the servants who worked in Halton House which would explain the buildings in the middle having rooms and an old stove. Lionel Walter Rothschild was well known for training zebras to pull coaches and famously drove a carriage and zebras into the grounds of Buckingham Palace!
During WWI the Army were based here and soldiers were trained in trench warfare at what was then known as Halton Camp. During this time the stables were used as accommodation for soldiers transiting through.
In WWII the stables area was used as an MT yard providing transport for the various officers based here, drivers were able to stay in the stables to allow access to vehicles at all times of day or night.
In recent years it has provided the opportunity for military personnel and their families, civilian families from the local area and the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) were long standing users of the facility until October 12, when the Yard Manager left.
The Saddle Club at that stage was in a very poor financial position and the infrastructure was in desperate need of some attention. In January 13 the committee saw several changes with individuals moving on through work commitments or postings and times were exceptionally challenging for all involved.
Over the last few months some members of the committee have spent many hours of their own time working hard painting, weeding, chopping, sawing, replacing fence rails and generally tidying up the Yard for the arrival of nine horses. An initial bid was submitted to Central Funds during this time, requesting funding for a new Ménage riding arena. The previous ménage was over 30 yrs old, the drainage system did not function correctly, meaning the arena was constantly flooding and one side of the arena was subsiding. In short it was not safe for riding! After a lot of hard work the Club was awarded a grant from Central Funds and work started in November 14.
Officer in charge of the Saddle Club, Flt Lt Claire Crighton, said: “There is still a lot of work to do in and around the yard and out in the paddocks, however, the committee are extremely excited about the future.
The plan is to have a stable hand or riding instructor at the yard by Spring or early Summer for three to five hours per day (this will be built up slowly as required), to offer lessons and co-ordinate the horses for use in the day to day function of the yard. The committee has lots of plans for the future, however, we appreciate that we must do things slowly and ensure we get the right people and horses onto the yard. Future intentions for the club are lessons and hacks, summer activities, pony club membership, so individuals can gain various badges, pony days, Airplay, Equestrian courses and of course we would like to be the Home for Equestrian Sport.”