An inner city riding school has produced one of the top quadrille teams in the country, qualifying for this month’s national finals at Bury Farm (22 October).
Wimbledon-based Deen City Farm finished as runners up in the selection trials for the event, just 0.5 marks away from winners Saffron Walden Riding Club.
All four of Deen City’s riders take part on school horses that are based at the centre, which is host to an inner city charity as well as a being BHS-approved riding school.
“Practicing has been incredibly difficult to fit in around the riding school commitments of the horses and ponies, but they have behaved impeccably and taken everything in their stride. We only have 11 school horses, so when four go off on a Saturday it does have an impact,” said Deen City Farm’s Joanna Henbry, who also rode in the squad this year.
“Two of the members of the team are clients who ride in a group lesson and we try and work it round that. It’s a huge amount of work to prepare, it takes us about nine months as we make everything ourselves.”
The team — who this year consisted of Jo, Katherine Whybrow, Gabby Herman and Sarah Clifford — missed out on qualification last year, so came up with a vivid Bollywood theme to get the attention of the judges.
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“After two previous unsuccessful attempts at selection, our Bollywood theme was conceived on our late evening drive home from the event in 2015,” Joanna said. “We just tried to come up with brightest, most theatrical idea we could think of.”
Other themes at this year’s SEIB Inurance Brokers’ selection trial, which also took place at Bury Farm on October 1, included Camelot, Ghostbusters, sailors and Alice in Wonderland.
Judge, Gaynor Colbourn said; “To be asked to judge the SEIB Quadrille Selection Trial was both very exciting and an honor for me. I was incredibly impressed by the costumes, stories and the music each Riding Club had created. The dedication these teams put into their quadrilles was outstanding.”
Deen City Farm and Saffron Walden will be joined at the final — which formerly took place at Olympia — by Cornwall TREC Group and Witheridge RC.