After three years of “keeping their heads above water”, Linda Porter-Cohen realised she needed to do something special to keep her riding school from going the same way as others in the area.

Step forward Bambi – a 24in “pet and pat” pony who has become the cornerstone of an ingenious marketing campaign.

Since arriving at Linda’s Newmarket yard, Bambi has toured fairs, farmers’ markets, even the races, to promote the business.

A banner draped on her pen explains that, although Bambi is too small to ride, “if you would like to learn, you can visit Coach House Stables where you can ride my larger friends”.

“Children absolutely adore her,” Linda told H&H. “She’s taken it all in her [very short] stride.”

And the strategy has been so successful, Linda has had to re-open her waiting list.

Gone are the days when riding school proprietors could sit and wait for the phone to ring – we have to be proactive,” she added.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (27 October, 2011)