The team at Catterick Garrison Saddle Club runs its livery and riding centre, providing a focal point for the service community and beyond.

“From our summer camps, stable stars and pony rides through to show jumping and dressage competitions, our aim is to make sure that everyone can enjoy the benefits of being with horses in a way that suits them,” says club chairman Jon Townrow.

Once a month the Personnel Recovery Unit (PRU) goes to the club for ‘recovery rides’, thanks to funding from ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, giving serving personnel the opportunity to meet, groom and ride the horses.

WO2 Roger Coates, Battle Back instructor PRU says: “Time and again, I’ve had troops who are adamant that they will never go near horses, but over a morning’s period, they not only end up riding a horse but are reluctant to leave them at the end of the session.

“Without being mystic about it, the horses just seem to know what the soldiers are feeling and thinking, and they act accordingly. For those who are anxious, stressed or physically vulnerable, the horses react in sympathy and help them feel empowered, giving them a sense of achievement.”

The club also has a range of groups that can hire facilities including Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), Pony Club, schools and community organisations.

Matthew, aged nine, whose dad is currently deployed, attends lessons once a week: “When I talk to my dad I can tell him which pony I rode and what we were asked to do in the lesson. When I cantered for the first time my dad said he was proud of me. My mum takes lots of pictures during the lessons to send to him.”

Rachel Lanaway, head groom and military spouse adds: “While my husband has been away on various tours and postings, my daughter and I have received constant support from both staff and liveries. My daughter has struggled with military friends moving away, but the staff, her friends and ponies at the saddle club have given her consistency, support and focus. Tahya rides most nights and takes part in competitions and lessons at the saddle club on her ponies, she has made so many friends, both military and civilian.”

Head to the Catterick Garrison Saddle Club Facebook page, or email to find out more.

Main photo: Tahya Lanaway riding Simba

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