Pammy Hutton: We’ve taken a leap of faith [H&H VIP]

  • I know I go on about riding schools. But as someone who runs one, it’s passion for the job and pride in what British riding schools have achieved that drives me.

    HRH The Princess Royal just helped our Talland RDA (Riding for the Disabled) group celebrate its 50th anniversary. RDA is a wonderful charity and a source of many of our world-beating para riders. But it needs financially viable riding schools to continue.

    Many a top rider across all disciplines has sprung from a riding school. As the growth of cycling has proved, it’s all about accessibility.

    Equine colleges were a huge nail in the coffin for many of our riding school counterparts. The “London 2012 legacy” — whatever that is exactly — was too late for them. Yet again, the BHS has confirmed a fall in numbers of approved establishments.

    But that’s enough defeatism. Here at Talland, we’ve taken a big leap of faith and become accredited by the government as an education provider to overseas students.

    Specifically, we’ve obtained tier four accreditation, and so have become the UK’s first and only non-college legally able to train overseas students up to the BHS Instructor qualification. Importantly, we’re allowed to take students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) without breaking immigration rules and putting ourselves at risk of a £100,000 fine.

    The inspection process involved visits from the Independent Schools Inspectorate, checking our ability to offer short and longer-term courses. They were a breath of fresh air.

    They assessed the quality of the teaching, and how we communicate with and inspire students. We met all expectations, exceeding in many places. Meanwhile, we are still doing ongoing work to meet BHS requirements.

    Keeping our riding school alive will help the young girl dreaming of her first riding lesson, or give that potential para rider a chance to train. I’m proud that Talland is now officially recognised as an exporter of British skills.

    Farewell to Patchetts

    Patchetts EC in Hertfordshire is to close next month. When dressage is so popular on all fronts, it’s such a shame to lose a fantastic venue like this. Its fate highlights the need for equestrian businesses to be commercially viable to continue to operate.

    ’Doing a Whitaker’

    Four members of one family competing at the same international show — is that a record? The Huttons are “doing a Whitaker” at the moment at Hartpury with Pippa, Charlie, Abi and yours truly all in action.

    Then there is Suzie Hext with Charlie’s and my horse Abira, who I’m sure will try as hard for her as he has for all four Huttons. In another family tie, Abira and my ride Belmondo are out of the same mare.

    The outing to Hartpury is a logistical challenge. Being too old to “do” my own horse, I meet him by a chair. The others share two grooms in case times are close.

    Pippa is my eyes on the ground; I’m Pippa’s and Abi’s. Charlie is usually rider/trainer and Carl Hester helps him too. We are supportive but, once in the arena, competitive too.

    Pippa is in the grand prix where, given the quality of starters, her goal is to progress to the freestyle. I’ll be trying to beat Charlie and Abi — although Charlie rides better than me now — while Abi is on my horse, so actually I might want her to beat us all.

    Surely it’s not that long since I hid under my hat as the offspring made their first Pony Club team appearances? Now, I can watch — but with more butterflies than for myself.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 9 July 2015