Stoneleigh Riding Club
A brief history
STONELEIGH RIDNG CLUB was founded in 1967. It was set up for the staff of the British Horse Society who had moved from Belgrave Square in London to their new offices on the Royal Showground at Stoneleigh.
The National Equestrian Centre, as it was then called, was being constructed. The club began by meeting on Tuesday evenings in one of the earth floored cattle sheds and as the winter approached Fred Garner erected temporary lighting so that the lessons could continue. The secretary at that time was Dawn Dray.As soon as the NEC was completed the club moved into the new school and Col. Froud, the national instructor became Chairman.
In 1969 the club began to take members from outside the BHS staff and the new secretary was Wendy Bell with Eileen Garner as treasurer. The club expanded and flourished using the NEC for instruction and competitions, providing guinea pigs for courses and demonstrations and helping with TV showjumping evenings etc.
During 1970 Inga Duxbury produced a quadrille in Spanish style which was performed at Wembley. Riders were Inga Vanessa Grey (Hood) Lesley Clarke (Burton) & Wendy Bell. The following year Wendy produced another with Carol Turner, Lesley, Vanessa and Mary Allison, a lot of fun was had by all. Our president at that time was Lord Rupert Leigh of Stoneleigh Abbey and we had the use of the picturesque Abbey grounds for Summer dressage competitions etc. Col. Froud retired as National Instructor in 1974 and moved to Devon.
Jean Samsome took over as Chairman, Olive Belcher became secratary and Wendy Bell the competition secretary, the club continuing to be an integral part of the Equestrian Centre, now renamed British, the BEC. Jean led the club for several years consolidating particularly the horse trials and dressage disciplines. We now run a dressage to music competition annually in her memory.
The chair passed to Sandy Bell a busy veterinary surgeon, for 2 years, then passing to Wendy Bell with Pam Rose as secretary the club flourishing through the late '80s and early '90s. We ran competitions of all disciplines including horse trials at Toft House thanks to the generosity of Edwin and Carol Baker. We then moved to Stoneleigh Park and ran one of the very first 2'9" 2 day events with steeplechase etc. the brainchild of Andy Ruyssevelt. During the '70s and '80s the Riding Clubs Championships were held at Stoneleigh and the club was very involved, fielding teams in Prix Caprilli (Riders test with jumps) Dressage and Show jumping 3'6". Horse trials were held at Hampton Magna then moved to Everdon, we competed at both venues. In 1993 the Riding clubs committee gave in to popular demand and the first Novice 2'9" one day event was introduced at Everdon. We were the proud first winners of that trophy, the team comprising Jill Hiatt (Bleloch) Jo Allison, Jo Coull and Wendy Bell. We had as a club always coveted the Area 5 points trophy and struggled hard until 1984 when we won it for the first time then again in 1986 which started a run of 11 years until 1997.
Our club owes a great debt to Fred and Eileen Garner for their unstinting and loyal service from our embryonic beginning until Fred died in 1995. Their names are remembered by the trophies that we present annually at the AGM and through the training fund started with a legacy left by Fred in his will. Sadly the BEC was pulled down in 1999 making it a very difficult year for chairperson of the time Sue Ericson and her committee, the club having to re-locate.
The Warwickshire College at Moreton Morrell have been very welcoming and we have continued with our Tuesday evening instructional rides and dressage competitions in their excellent facilities. We also hold daytime 'mums' rides on weekday mornings throughout the year attracting new members with young horses and older members getting going again! ALL are WELCOME.
This brief history of the club is from memory, I apologise for any errors or omissions and would be delighted if any members wanted to add their comments. Contact Wendy Bell. (Chair)
Marion Smith (flat work)
Val Malka (SJ)
Saturday Jump Training
Saturday Flat Training
Area 5 Representatives
Chef d’Equipes (Dressage)
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