I hadn’t been to Arena UK for a while and I’m impressed with the improvements — the permanent stables and lighting is good and the surface is excellent. There’s plenty of room here and I was able to get some good work into the horses.
But owner Norman Oley tells me the government are re-rating equestrian centres and he’ll be facing another £30,000 in rates — for some centres that’s the difference between profit and loss, and British Showjumping should be lobbying ministers (news, p12). The equestrian industry brings a lot of revenue, is a leisure industry and a sport and should be rated as such — we need these centres to produce our horses and we don’t want to lose them.
As the pound is currently weaker, I’ll be looking to educate my youngsters in the UK instead of Spain in the spring — I’ll immediately be £1,500 better off before we get on the boat. It’s 15% more expensive to go abroad, so we need more centres like this one.
The best class all week was the Dodson & Horrell and the World Class Programme Under 23 British Championship qualifier. I walked the track — it was a decent 1.45m and there were some good kids jumping. I was disappointed in the young horse classes, though, and didn’t enjoy riding them. The tracks need to encourage more forward-flowing, balanced rhythmical riding, not sharp turnbacks so riders are riding on their hand. In the newcomers, fewer than six horses were in a snaffle — because of the sharp turnbacks in courses, riders immediately put a stronger bit in.
The grand prix track was good; older, more experienced horses can cope with turnbacks, and Louise Whitaker did a nice job on Leen — well ridden and well produced.
Ref Horse & Hound; 8 December 2016