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Devon riding school celebrates 40th anniversary this year

A Devon riding school and one of the largest Dartmoor pony studs in the country is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Oaklands Riding School near Exeter opened in 1972 when Joyce Newbery (pictured) returned from honeymoon aged 21 to find six ponies waiting for her at home.

Her father had decided the newly married Joyce needed a career, and teaching riding was an obvious option for his horse-mad daughter.

“He said I needed to do something where I was at home to look after my husband,” Joyce told H&H.

“I couldn’t carry on travelling around to shows.”

On that first Saturday I had six ponies and six customers. Now I have more than 100 people who come on a Saturday.”

Oaklands has 56 working horses, teaching beginners right through to experienced riders. Past pupils include top event rider Mary King’s husband David.

It is now a Pony Club centre, BHS riding school and RDA centre.

And this year Oaklands has been chosen as one of the faces of the Sunday Telegraph charity for 2012 for its contribution to RDA.

Joyce and her brother Tony – who showjumped for Great Britain – come from a farming family with no prior equine experience.

Riding schools have always been the back bone of grassroots British riding. They are now a dying breed across the country with the ever tightening rules,” said Joyce.

To have been running for 40 years is a great achievement.”

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