Celebrating 35 years
It does not seem 35 years ago that Penny Corbett, Trish Bishop and I sat at Penny’s kitchen table and talked through starting a riding club. Having decided to go ahead I received the paper work from The British Horse Society and got on with the business of our club becoming affiliated. Trish would be President, Penny Treasurer and I would be Secretary. I think it was Pat Parker who came up with the club’s name.
What we did in those days, was have weekly riding meetings at Ox House, Shobdon. Our members would arrive with their vehicles and park in the farm’s yard (often parking in the wrong place!) Each member had a time and a group that would suit either the horse or rider abilities. First hour started at 10.00 and usually we had 3 different groups.
We were lucky to have 3 good instructors William Blane, Sue Parker and Barbara Leach. Barbara taught me an insight to people and horses; Sue consolidated that insight and William taught me other stuff. It was the information that I gleaned from these three that enabled me to coach and take the Marin County Pony Club games team (gymkhana) to Northern California and Hawaii Regional Finals. We won and went on to the Championships in Culpepper, Virginia 1988 and 1989. These kids were young, oldest being 13 years old. The first year we had difficulty raising money to get the airfares to fly the kids to Culpepper. We could not take our ponies with us. Our host Pony Club kindly found ponies! Some of the ponies had not been ridden for years and one poor fellow was so old he creaked if he picked up a trot. Another problem with our borrowed ponies was – (at least there was a leg at each corner) but which way did the saddle go. A lot of our valuable practice time – getting to know our new ponies was spent with the clippers shearing off years of matted hair – so glad I had the workshop with VARC on clipping! My funny rag-tag team came in 7th out of 16 teams. The other teams came from the East Coast Pony Clubs and riding their own very smart, expensive games ponies.
The other notable thing to thank VARC for, was the local United States Olympic Equestrian Team hopeful asked me to help her with her show jumping. Susie’s voice “wait” was in my head as this lady usually took everything at top speed. William would have said “she will kill herself” on cross country. Barbara would have been OK with dressage “think you are sitting on a barrel and don’t squeeze”. My lady was short listed for reserve to the team!!
Early on VARC put on an area One Day Event. That was fun but a lot of work. Thanks to David Corbett who let me use the office so I could work out the timing and order of riders i.e. having to substitute original horses from the entries, changing riders etc. Checking through and double checking the timing and paperwork. I then made the skins to run off the programmes. There was no photocopying onto A4 paper in those days only that photostat paper, which came on a roll. Oh the printing ink – I remember it well! The One Day Event was well attended – don’t remember who was on the VARC team, but I think Sue Adams was one, and maybe Janie Turner. We finished the day exhausted but satisfied.
I read in the Hereford Times that VARC welcomed all old and new members to join in the 35 year celebration. I was at a Memorial last Saturday (for one of my residents) when I got poked in the back by Aggie Murch. She had been living in London and I did not know she was back in California. Does anyone remember her? She was over in UK with her husband (Walter) making a movie and she had bought the big bay gelding Ludi and had him stabled at William’s in Cobnash until she could get Ludi shipped to California. You can call her an old member – but, wait – I am an old member too!
Congratulations to all for keeping this wonderful institution going. Here’s to the next 35.