What may be the oldest riding school in the country is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

Bowlers Riding School was set up in 1941 in Formby, Merseyside.

Julian Marczak, chairman of the Association of British Riding Schools told H&H he couldn’t find any records of a riding school older than Bowlers in the UK.

“This is indeed a milestone and the longevity is encouraging for all riding schools,” he said.

As part of the celebrations, the school is hosting an open day on 9 July and inviting riders past and present to attend.

The school was established after Tom Bowler bought his daughter Mary a Shetland pony called Titch.

“Locals saw Tom leading Mary around the village and asked him to teach their children to ride,” said Holly Southeran from Bowlers.

“Titch’s lessons earned enough money [for them] to buy another pony called Peggy; from there the riding school was set up.”

Bowlers now has 27 horses and ponies. It became a member of the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA)when the charity was formed in 1968.

The Formby and Southport RDA group, which is now based at Bowlers, runs lessons for 20 riders a week.

And in 1989 rider Helen Scott borrowed a horse from Bowlers called Bass to compete in the second world dressage championships for disabled riders in Denmark. Helen, who was representing Great Britain, came fourth.

RDA chief executive Ed Bracher said: “Bowlers is a long-standing member of RDA, and has provided therapy and enjoyment to disabled riders for many years. They should be very proud.”

This story was first published in Horse & Hound (30 June, 2011)