Riders in Liverpool have suffered a blow after a riding school that has been operating for more than a quarter of a century has been sold.

The closure of BHS-approved Wheathill Riding Centre — the only school in a 10-mile radius — means 16 horses and 50 liveries will need to find new homes by mid-June.

But unlike many of the riding school closures reported by H&H in recent years, Wheathill’s demise was not caused by rates or insurance hikes.

Proprietor Ted Danher told H&H: “I simply want to retire. Owning a riding school isn’t like having a job you can walk away from when the time comes.”

Mr Danher and sister-in-law Hilary Anastassi have run the yard for 20 years. The centre, which has indoor and outdoor arenas, has been sold with vacant possession. H&H has no details of the new owner or their plans.

“We’ve been surprised at how many of our liveries have found new yards,” said Mr Danher.

But many yards in the area told H&H they are turning liveries away.

Leslie McKenna, whose stable is about a mile away, said: “I can’t take any of their clients on and have turned people away.”

Anne Ackroyd, who part-owns Gellings Farm on the other side of the city, bemoaned the loss of Wheathill and its facilities.

She added: “We now have a waiting list for lessons and are having to turn away liveries from Wheathill.”

In December, another local centre, Tarbock Green Riding School, stopped giving lessons due to rising insurance costs, but the yard manager told H&H lessons may be restarted now Wheathill has closed.

Julie Pegram is the administrator of the Mersey Horse Equestrian Association. She has been fighting to keep riding alive in the city.

She reasoned: “Why should the kids of Liverpool lose out? I’ve thought about raising funds to start a public-owned riding school that will be safe from closure, but I can’t access funds or grants.”

Tina Hibbert, who rides at Wheathill with her nine-year-old son, said: “I’m heartbroken and my son is crying himself to sleep at night because he wants the pony he rides regularly.

“I’ve ridden at Wheathill since I was 14 years old — I’m now 40, and I have a relationship with the place.”

This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (17 May, ’07)