Flying to new heights on the residential summer trip
Every year we organise a range of exciting events, activities and trips for our young people over the summer holidays and this year has been no different.
A highlight of the schedule is the annual Summer Trip to the countryside - a week-long residential trip that gives our young people the chance to experience the responsibility of caring for their own horses away from the familiar setting of our own yard. It also lets them put their riding skills to the test in different environments, encountering new terrains and challenges.
This year, we were invited by Spencer Golding to take four of our horses to Home Farm Equestrian Centre in Crowborough, East Sussex.
On Saturday 13 August, three young riders and four horses (Una, Shaney, Joe and Splash) set off on their adventure - being greeted on arrival at Home Farm by Spencer and his very welcoming staff.
After a picnic lunch, it was time to saddle up and start exploring! Anna, Spencer's daughter, lead us off through the woods and showed us the dedicated canter track where they exercise their event horses. At that point, the prospect of setting off into open country, having only ever cantered round our arena, was a little too nerve wracking and no one was brave enough to give it a go at that point.
The horses were very happy to be turned out at night and so were the young people!
Setting up camp in Spencer's garden was achieved with much hilarity, assisted - or is that hampered? - by Bowie, the dog!
By Sunday, the previous days nerves had vanished with everyone ready to take on the canter track. The beaming smiles as they pulled up said it all.
On Tuesday morning, we were treated to a very different kind of riding experience - but one that was none-the-less thrilling... Spencer and young event rider Lauren Mclusky, were heading to Ireland, where Lauren was competing at the Millstreet International Horse Trials - by helicopter. Our members couldnt believe their luck when Spencer asked the pilot to take them up for a short flight!
Changeover day was Wednesday when Davinia, our senior youth worker arrived with three more young riders. Not wanting to be outdone by the first group, they conquered the canter track on their first afternoon and the next morning they were out on the cross country field, bursting with confidence.
Both groups had a wonderful lesson in the arena with John Smart who regaled them with tales of his long and illustrious career as an event rider. "Did you win Badminton?" Calvin asked? "No but I achieved the fastest time ever recorded!" he replied.
There were so many other highlights of the week inlcluding the chance to watch a mare being insemminated and a visit to the woods to meet the wild boar that live there.
Understandably no one wanted to go home but Spencer has kindly invited us to return.
It was a fantastic week for our young people and their horses and we are enormously grateful to Spencer, his wife Sophie and all the staff at Home Farm for making it an unforgettable experience.
For some of our young people, this is their first time leaving London and their only opportunity to visit the countryside. We recognise the benefits this brings not only in enjoyment and helping them to develop their riding, but also in raising aspirations, exposing them to new experiences and building confidence in new environments.
As a charity, we rely on generous grants from charitable trusts, fundraising support and donations from individuals to ensure we can provide much-needed services and support to children and young people in the local community.