A riding school in the Scottish Highlands has come up with a novel way of keeping itself in business and its horses and ponies fit during this year’s prolonged snowy period.

Newtonmore Riding Centre’s proprietor Ruaridh Ormiston has invested in a sleigh to start giving sleigh-driving lessons. Ruaridh collected the coach, designed to be pulled by one pony, on 16 December.

He said: “We used to have a sleigh at Newtonmore, but sold it in the mid-90s because of the lack of snow. We have been doing a lot of pony sledging this year, so buying this sleigh was a natural progression as it will allow us to give lessons to the general public.”

Ruaridh has worked with sleighs and sledges for 35 years. One of his earliest experiences was using a Shetland pony stallion, Twinkle, to pull a mountain rescue stretcher sledge.

“I’m in the process of building two more wooden sleighs designed for bigger horses, which will carry six people each,” he said.

As well as riding in the snow and sleigh driving, Newtonmore also offers Ski Joring (pictured right), a winter sport which is new to Scotland but popular in North America and Europe and uses a horse to pull a person on skis.

We will be concentrating on winter sports this year to enable us to keep operating through the cold spell and to keep the horses and ponies fit,” said Ruaridh.

For more information visit www.newtonmoreridingcentre.com