Welcome to Rheidol Newsround where we shall be keeping you updated with news from the yard. Whether you are a regular customer, one of our many distant friends who find it harder to keep in touch, or whether you are browsing our website for the first time and looking for somewhere to ride – we hope this page will help to keep you informed about what is happening at the Centre and give you a sense of what everyday life is like, working with the horses here in the beautiful Rheidol Valley!
Hi and a very Happy New Year to all our customers and other on-line friends. The Festive Season has come and gone in a flash. Our horses have had a good rest after lots of activities in the run-up to Christmas, and are now fresh and raring to go for 2015!
December is always a busy time for us. We have our Pony Club Christmas Party; Riding Centre Christmas Party and Aberystwyth University Equestrian Christmas Party (all of which include fun and festive mounted games and a feast of Christmas goodies); as well as our Christmas Show Jumping Competition including a Fancy Dress competition with a …… well, you know what …… theme! This year, quite a few customers also opted to join a long ride out over the holiday period and while frost and ice briefly intervened, some fast & fabulous rides were enjoyed by our more experienced customers.
The ponies get into the spirit of the Christmas parties as much as the riders, be they children or adults. Mounted games give them a chance to let off steam and on occasions to test whether their rider’s ability matches their own expertise and agility! Some of the smaller ponies regularly train for Pony Club Games in our Friday evening sessions, so they know what they are doing even if their riders don’t …. and some of them really go for it. Its excellent for learning to stay on of course!! Its also great fun for spectators to watch and cheer on the teams from the gallery.
Winter routines are now well established and those horses and ponies that live out are doing well this year. The horses are wintered in our top fields at Tanyrallt, where they have a large open shed for shelter and free access to haylage.
The ponies (who are fed hay daily) are enjoying a new field shelter this winter. This was put up in the ‘V jump field ’ back in November and it didn’t take long for them to realize its benefits. So when its cold and wet, its reassuring for us to know that they all have somewhere to go where they can stay out of the weather if they want to. We still have some who need to come in at night of course, as well as the livery horses who are stabled at night throughout the winter months.
With all the mud around this winter, especially after lots of rain through December, Centre staff and livery owners were all delighted when Iola recently installed a new hot water horse wash. It makes the job of cleaning muddy legs and bellies SO much easier and most of the horses seem to really enjoy the warm hose down. No excuse now for not turning out beautifully bathed and groomed horses for summer events!!!!
Recent months have seen more changes in the livery yard. Since the last posting, we have welcomed Jill with her two mares Belle and Nancy. Helen has joined us with Harry, and Laura with Painted Lady; most recently Ruth has arrived with Quinn, and Rhian with Louis. We hope that horses and owners alike will be very happy on our yard. Our livery owners are a really friendly bunch and with more of them on the yard, its great to see them riding out together, enjoying the countryside and making good use of our local bridleways .
Most livery horse are stabled at night and are turned out together in the ‘Big Field’. We introduce new horse to the herd very slowly and carefully and by doing so we ensure that they are accepted into the herd with the minimum of fuss.
The BHS Stage 1 and 2/3 training courses are in back in full swing after the Christmas break. These will run until mid-March. If you are interested in following one of these courses, the next one will begin in October of this year. The BTEC course is also running again after the break. Our candidates are doing really well this year and seem to be enjoying the mix of practical / classroom stable management and riding.
Make sure you look at the appropriate page on this site for the 2015 Schedule of Events at Rheidol. There is lots going on that may be of interest. February 8th marks the next event …… one of the Winter League Show Jumping competitions.
Other things to look out for are a full programme of Pony Club activities including working towards PC Tests (especially D, D+ and C) and Achievement Badges.
We are also offering short riding holidays this year, where we shall be riding with small groups of experienced riders through some of our most stunning landscapes and staying in local accommodation of real character. If you are interested, have a look at the new page on this site, but don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information … we’d be delighted to hear from you.
On September 1st we said ‘goodbye’ to a couple of livery horses and ‘hello’ to a new one. Catherine Cripps’ first horse Brenin has been with us for several years, while her recent acquisition Jimmy has been on the yard since June. With Catherine out of action through injury over the summer, staff have been looking after both horses in her absence. Now, having recently realised her dream of buying a smallholding, Catherine and her two horses have at last been able to move into their new home together. We wish them all well. They are only a short distance away from Rheidol and I’m sure we’ll still see a lot of them.
Catherine with Brenin (left of picture) & Jimmy
Meanwhile, also on September 1st, Miss Megan arrived on the yard. At 20 years young, this lovely 15hh Welsh Cob .
The summer trekking season is well and truly over now and those horses that have worked hard through the holiday period are having a well earned rest. That is not to say that hacking out has come to an end for the year. Far from it! We offer a variety of rides out throughout the year and on October 20th & 21st there is a two-day ride for experienced riders only. Contact us by phone if you are interested. You can do just one of the two days if you prefer, though priority will be given to those wishing to do both days.
Hacking out with Rheidol Riding Centre
Our annual, autumn Hunter Trials took place on September 14th. The weather was fine and a great day was had by all. After a long dry summer, the ground had been softened just a little by recent rain and the going was ideal for the horses. Classes ranged from a short mini class, though to 17 obstacle minimus, novice and intermediate courses. In addition to our usual novice pairs, we also included for the first time, a minimus pairs competition to encourage more youngsters in particular to have a go at pairs jumping. They loved it! See our Facebook page for loads of photos from the event and click on our Facilities page to see some of the cross country jumps.
Aberystwyth University Equestrian
Rheidol Riding Centre is the main facility used by Aberystwyth University Equestrian (AUE) – Aber Uni’s student riding club – and we are pleased to work together with the club committee every year to provide the best riding opportunities we can for the students. With the new academic session beginning in late September, we are looking forward to seeing some of the regulars back again and are ready to welcome new students, whatever their level of riding. On September 23rd Rheidol staff member Liz Hughes joined this year’s club committee on their stand at Freshers’ Fair, to encourage and inform new members of the opportunities available at Rheidol. While students are welcome to take part in our open competitions, the club also organises its own events. The first of these is a speed eventing competition to be held at Rheidol on 8th October. Look out for a report on that in the October newsletter!
September has also seen the commencement of our new BTEC course in association with Ceredigion Education Department. This is a 2 year, Level 1 BTEC programme running every Tuesday during school term time.
Summer Season at Rheidol
As I begin this page we are in mid August ….. peak period for summer visitors to Ceredigion. We welcome all those who are interested in horse riding, whatever their level of experience. In fact, for many of our customers at this time of year it is their first ever ride on horseback, so we give them a little basic instruction before taking them out for a ride around the farm. We take people of all ages from 4 years old onwards – and it is always very rewarding for our staff when, having helped perhaps really nervous people (young or old) to mount up for the first time, they return from their ride with a big smile on their face and a new sense of confidence!! It can be equally as rewarding to take out more experienced riders, when they enjoy both the thrill of a faster ride and the fantastic views along the way. It certainly helps us to appreciate how lucky we are to live and work in such a great location. As for the horses, well, they work hard over the summer but they are all fit and well and get plenty of rest and good grass in between times. They are really a very contented bunch!!
Preparing to ride out
New Faces in the Herd
Its the first summer season for newcomer to Rheidol, Bob (a.k.a. Bob the Cob!!). Bob joined us straight over from Ireland as a 4 year old last autumn and has been brought on steadily through the winter and spring. A traditional coloured Irish Cob of about 14.3hh, Bob is solid, steady and reliable …. and a lovely natured boy!! He is already used for some of our RDA adults as a lead rein ride and yet, as more experienced riders will agree, will work like a trooper if you ask him to. Cadno Coch also joined the Centre last autumn. ‘Cadno Coch’ is Welsh for Red Fox and my goodness, what a beautiful rich red chestnut he is too! Cadno is a 7 year old, about 15hh. He settled in immediately on his arrival and was soon working in the school to a good level. Another softee by nature, he’s already becoming a firm favourite with some of our regular customers. He’s now enjoying the experienced hacks out over the summer and is also learning to jump. He’s going to be a great ‘all rounder’ for the Centre. We’ll bring you some photos shortly!
Customers will soon be seeing much more of Glyndwr (Glyn for short) and Elan, our two young Welsh Cobs who are starting work in earnest this summer. Both are around 13 – 13.2 hh; Glyn is black, Elan bay. They’ve been together since they were very young and Iola acquired them for Rheidol as 2 year olds. So while they are certainly not new to the Riding Centre, they have been very much in the background until now. Glyn has already come along at the back of some of our summer treks, ridden by a member of staff, and is proving himself to be very patient and sensible. Elan is more feisty and isn’t yet suited to this kind of work. However, both will be a useful addition to the school horses over the coming years, particularly providing more mounts for teenagers.
Glyndwr and Elan are inseparable in the herd
One youngster who is showing great promise is Iola’s home-bred mare Ginger. At 5 years old and about 16.2hh, Ginger is coming on well in her dressage training. So to start educating her for travelling to competitions, Iola took her to Lampeter Show recently. Given it was her first time out, it was something of an unknown quantity, but Ginger behaved impeccably and was placed first in her Class (Working Hunter) and Reserve Best in the Hunter Section. Wow – what a result! Well done Iola and Ginger.
Iola on Ginger at Lampeter Show (right of photo)
We can’t talk about Ginger without mentioning her best buddy Quizzical – Iola’s other dressage horse (we call him ‘Q’ for short). Another lovely character, Q is a 7 year old. His dressage is progressing well, though this year Iola is focusing on bringing on his training from novice to elementary level, rather than risking over-competing him at this early stage in his career. At home, ‘Q’ and ‘Ging’ go out together during the day and are stabled at night. Lovely natured horses though they both are, they seem to be going through a stage of breaking out of whatever field we put them in. Q is the ‘agent provocateur’ we think. They don’t go far but they do seem convinced that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence!!
From news of the young to news of the old …….
It was with mixed emotions we said a fond farewell to Paddy and Princess Katie just a week ago. Both horses have in their time been stalwarts of the school but at around 30 years of age, both have now been retired for some time. Best buddies, they’ve gone together to a lovely, forever home with Heather Thornton on her new smallholding near Llanilar. Heather took on Katie as a livery when she was retired some time ago. She is only small (about 12.2 – 13hh) but my goodness, what a big character. Many customers will remember feisty little Katie, up there with the best of them, galloping across the fields or around the cross country course … just occasionally deciding to deposit her rider by just a drop of her shoulder. I think Heather would say she retains much of her cheeky spirit … but the flesh is a little weaker these days. Paddy is a lovely, sweet and gentle Thoroughbred and has taught many adults to novice dressage level. A sensitive mare however, Paddy would pick up easily on a rider’s stress. This would be most evident in her show jumping and would manifest itself as increasing speed around a course of jumps. There are many of us, I’m sure (myself included), who can recall flying around a course of jumps with perfect precision on her part but at a fearful rate of knots! We shall miss both horses on the yard. We shall also miss Heather’s daily visits. But thank you so much Heather and husband Dave for giving them a lovely home to live out the rest of their days.
Pony Club Centre
Regular customers will know that we are trying to build up our Pony Club Centre this year. We have a number of new members – welcome to all (you know who you are!!) – and we are holding more Pony Club (PC) activities, especially over the summer. We have several rallies and an all day ride coming up. Check out the full Pony Club schedule or call us for details. We held a PC show jumping rally on July 6th and were pleased to be able to make up two good groups of younger and older members – so that we could really focus the sessions at an appropriate level for everyone. Some of these members subsequently represented the Centre at a PC Area Show Jumping Competition near Swansea. While all other competitors were on their own horses, meaning that our members were inevitably disadvantaged, some pleasing results were achieved and a great day out was had by all. The same can be said of an Area Dressage competition to which we also sent a team this summer – the only Pony Club Centre in Wales to do so (as opposed to Branches*). Some of our young members achieved very creditable scores, so very well done to all of you. Both events were a huge learning experience on which we aim to build next year. Thanks are due in particular to the parents and volunteers who went along to help. Earlier in the year our Mounted Games Team also competed for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed themselves (as did the ponies!!). Again, we were the only Pony Club Centre in Wales to send a team. On this their first such competition, it was not to be expected that they would be in the prizes but it was a fantastic learning experience for them all and they returned with a new motivation to get better and better. On 2nd August the Team took the ponies to our local Capel Bangor Show and did a demonstration of Mounted Games in the main ring at lunchtime. With huge cheering on from the spectators, the youngsters enjoyed showing off their riding skills and agility in these testing games, and our little ponies rose to the occasion too. Having taken a bow to the Show President at the end of their performance, it was great to see them all gallop around the arena together, all the ponies clearly loving the experience. Some customers who bring their young children to learn to ride at Rheidol have since expressed their amazement to see the likes of Fudge and Harry …. normally very quiet little ponies for beginners ……. flying around the arena, thoroughly enjoying themselves. Training for Pony Club Games takes place on Friday evenings. Call us for further information. *PC Branch members use their own ponies. Centres are for members who do not own their own pony
Rheidol ponies go to local fun days
If you went to the Statkraft Open Day at the Rheidol Power Station on July 5th, you will have seen Carrots behaving herself beautifully in the crowds, giving rides to children. Volunteers Lynne McTye and Lora Richards were there to look after pony and riders and did a great job ! Thanks to both for a hard day’s work.
Rheidol Carrots at home in the herd
On July 12th Carrots and Fudge were taken along to Penparcau School to give pony rides at their Open Day. Iola went along with volunteers Lynne McTye and Heather Thornton this time. The ponies behaved impeccably … which is more than can be said for the weather ….. but despite the rain, lots of children enjoyed a pony ride and a successful afternoon was had by all.
Centre Proprietor Iola often takes horses and ponies in for short term schooling. There are lots of reasons why owners ask for help in this way but usually the horses are with us for a month or so to iron out any issues they may have, or simply to give them regular work for a while. The most recent was Llon (Welsh for ‘Happy’), who was with us through July. Llon is a delightful Welsh Section D mare and was here for a few weeks to get some regular expert schooling from Iola to improve her way of going. Staff enjoyed looking after Llon and we wish her well now that she is back home with her owner.
Above and below: Schooling Llon
Over the coming months we’ll introduce our members of staff to you and bring you news from the staff room! In this instance we are focusing on 21 year old Hannah Gethin, who learned to ride at Rheidol as a child, together with Mum Dawn and sister Rebecca. Hannah joined the full-time staff two years ago and has since passed her BHS Stage Two exam. As well as being a stalwart on the staff team, Hannah has been working hard with her Mum Dawn’s Welsh Section D gelding, Ceredigion Fflach Goch a.k.a. Dewi . When Dawn bought Dewi as a 7 year old, four years ago, he’d done very little work. Now, he epitomizes the intelligence and versatility of the Welsh Cob as a really strong ‘all rounder’. Already this year he has performed well at the Royal Welsh Spring Fair in Builth Wells (working hunter and show jumping); Pembrey (One Day Event); Cambrian (cross country) and representing Dyffryn Paith Riding Club at the Riding Clubs Area Dressage Qualifiers. Last year, Hannah and Dewi even graced the cover page of Welsh Rider Magazine, jumping cross country. With Mum Dawn also competing on Dewi in dressage, we wish this ‘threesome’ well and hope they all continue to enjoy and improve their performances.
Above and below: Hannah and Ceredigion Fflach Goch (Dewi)
Watch this space for further news and lots more photos to come!!