NAF Five Star Riding Club of the Year award 2017

  • The NAF Five Star Riding Club of the Year award celebrates the organisations that bring riders together and best support them in achieving their goals — changing riders’ experiences for the better. The award winner was revealed at the H&H Awards gala dinner at Ascot Racecourse on 2 November.

    *WINNER* Willow Farm

    Founded: 1991

    Number of members: 160

    2017 highlight? Celebrated their 10-year anniversary hosting popular Pony Club camps and continued to provide children, who don’t own a pony, with the opportunity to ride and take part in regular jumping, dressage and inter-centre competitions throughout the year.

    Annual event not to be missed: the May Day Show on Bank Holiday Monday. Described as a “proper horse show”, it includes working hunter, in-hand and ridden classes that are open to all riders in the area.

    What the members say: “Willow Farm is an amazing place where children can learn to ride and enjoy being around ponies. Not only do they offer riding lessons, but also they run a Pony Club centre and offer riding holidays — children come home dirty, wet and tired, but always happy.” Nicola Booley

    Also shortlisted were:

    Little Margate

    Founded: 2013

    Number of members: 170

    2017 highlights? Making it to the final of the Pony Club mounted games senior zone competitions in July, described as “a huge achievement”. They also qualified two senior teams for the Royal Cornwall Show.

    Annual event not to be missed: the end-of-summer show held in August, which includes classes from jumping to gymkhana, with various prizes being awarded. They also host camps for riders of all ages.

    What the members say… “Little Margate has been a massive inspiration to my two girls. They have entered their first dressage and jumping competitions at Little Margate and now there is no stopping them — it’s a special place because it is full of so many people of all ages, experiencing the joys that horses can bring.” Katie Dingle

    East Clwyd

    Founded: 1974

    Number of members: 150

    2017 highlights? Winning the senior team-of-four dressage final at the British Riding Clubs (BRC) national championships for the first time.

    Annual event not to be missed: host a camp bi-annually in May and September at Somerford Park in Cheshire. Alongside the training, the adult-only camps are described as “a real social event with plenty of prosecco flowing”.

    What the members say… “The club has a large thriving membership and offers training and competition for riders at all levels. It is a delight to watch members grow in confidence in this friendly, nurturing environment — many of them progressing to national championships and achieving goals they never dreamed possible. The club’s lively, forward-thinking committee is always open to suggestions from members on new ideas and, of course, there is always cake.” Jane Yorke


    Founded: 2014

    Number of members: 214

    2017 highlights? The senior team swept to victory in the 90cm national horse trials championships in August.

    Annual event not to be missed: two popular hunter trials at Swalcliffe Park, plus a “Stressless” dressage league.

    What the members say… “No words can reflect my appreciation for the support I receive; they have made an unknown world accessible. So much so, my daughter qualified for several championships in her first year, including the national championships. It’s inclusive — there is no hierarchy.” Denise Esser

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