Centre membership schemes could benefit all parties *H&H Plus*

  • A new show centre membership scheme created to help boost income during the coronavirus pandemic could also benefit all parties once normality returns.

    The College Equestrian Centre, Keysoe, has launched the scheme, by which members pay £120 per month for unlimited use of all the facilities. The cost is per rider, not per horse.

    Centre owner Simon Bates told H&H the idea became reality as Keysoe has lost so much income since lockdown started and sport stopped, but the concept is older.

    “I wonder whether the suggested start date of 4 July for sport is a bit optimistic but whatever happens, we need other options to tide us over,” he said. “We were thinking about this, and had done bits before, as we had a girl who lived in the next village with a stable in the garden, and paid for a DIY box here but didn’t use it, she just used the facilities.

    “We’re doing something based on the current government guidelines.”

    Mr Bates said the idea may evolve in future, based on demand.

    “I don’t play golf, but am quite an expert in golf courses’ terms and conditions; you might get discounted entries if a club you’re a member of runs a competition, and it seems to work for them.

    “A lot depends on what members want; if they want a training show every Tuesday, or a British Showjumping show with a 1.40m on a Thursday, we’ll put one on – we’ll tailor it to what people want.”

    Mr Bates added that Nick Skelton’s “excellent” comment in H&H (opinion, 14 May) sparked talk about the future of the sport, which is positive, and such schemes could be part of that.

    “The professional riders who pay £50 or so a week for hire jumped at this but I think it works all round,” he said. “For local riders, it would be about £1,000 per year, which is cheaper than putting an arena in, with maintenance and a full course of jumps.

    “It fits the situation we’re in but I think it would also fit in a normal competition schedule; I don’t think it’s a short-term idea.”

    Eventer Anthony Clark told H&H he jumped at the idea.

    “It would save me a fortune,” he said, explaining that he has been taking six horses at a time for arena hire, which costs £150 in one go.

    “As soon as Simon put it out, I said, ‘I’ll pay now.’ I’ve got lovely owners but I’m sure they flinch when something costs that much with no competitions on. It’s a no-brainer to me.”

    Anthony said Mr Bates is “very good at listening to riders”.

    He added: “I think we all need to work together and support each other, and all horsey people are having problems at the moment. This is expensive but they’ve stayed open, and Simon’s invested a huge amount in the centre in the last 18 months, and we want to keep our centres.”

    Anthony is also a member of Bury Farm Equestrian Village, Bucks. The centre charges £5 for membership, for which riders claim discounts on class entry, facility hire and livery.

    “We must support each other – and I’m open to paying for things to save money,” Anthony said.

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