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Riders behind community arena scheme hope to inspire others

Those behind a community riding arena maintained and funded by the riders who use it hope the idea could be an inspiration elsewhere.

The arena is on 24 acres of land bought by the National Trust, half of which was leased to Reach village for a peppercorn rent, for it to be used by the community.

The land now features a cricket pitch, a community orchard, woodland and a children’s play area – and the riding facility.

Sadie King, who founded the group with Liz Tabecki, told H&H it took some three years to secure the space. At first, the hope was to have a surface laid but the cost was prohibitive.

“But the ground’s amazing,” she said. “We never have to close it, not even last winter, apart from once when it snowed, it’s brilliant.”

Each member of the Reach Riders Group pays £20 per year, which covers insurance and ground maintenance and is managed by Sue Cameron, while fundraising events meant cross-country and showjumping fences could be added.

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“It’s been a godsend during lockdown,” Sadie said. “People often think riding is just for the elite but not everyone’s got bags of money, and this costs about 50p per week, rather than £25 for hiring an arena once.

“We hope what we’ve done might inspire other people to do the same thing.”

Sadie said there has never been a case of damage caused, or clashes between those using the facility.

“It just works, really well,” she said.

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