Site last updated May 15, 2013
Here is just a very small selection of testimonials written by clients past and present, industry professionals and community charities. We get hundreds of fabulous letters and emails every year and we love receiving them, so do please browse through these, our favourites, and maybe send us one of your own.
This is a well presented establishment that always gives a good first impression. High standards of equine husbandry are displayed in all departments. The tack room is probably the best that I’ve seen. Standards required for continued BHS Approval are fully met. Alan Bingle, BHS Riding School Inspector.
I understand that Wimbledon Village Stables won the prize for the Best Business for Hospitality and Leisure at the 2012 South London Business Awards ceremony. I am absolutely delighted to learn of your success, and would like to congratulate you and all of your staff on this tremendous achievement. Stephen Hammond MP
Read the glowing write up from the British Horse Magazine, September/October Issue.
My experience at Wimbledon Village Stables (WVS) has been life changing and for that I am sincerely grateful. When I first came to WVS I was recovering from a severe relapse of multiple sclerosis and had never ridden a horse before. My relapse had left me with very weak core muscle strength and so my balance and my stability were big problems for me. I friend suggested I try riding at WVS. Two years later I am much fitter, my balance and stability are normal and I am a more confident person. And I can ride a horse – which had been a hospital bed dream.
I have had the pleasure of three different instructors in my time at WVS who helped me develop through the different stages in my new found skill. I now own my lovely Roo, whom I adore and who makes me look good. I would never have believed I could own a horse and feel skilled enough to know him and win rosettes on him.
Many many thanks and best wishes to you all. Warm regards Claire
I can’t begin to express how happy I am and how thankful I am to you. I can not believe, we (as a family) have been so lucky to find you, the stables, the girls and our boy Romeo!
I am a different person with my daily rides, the girls have been so patient and encouraging and it has been hugely appreciated. Micol has challenged me hugely this week and I have walked away happier and happier and feel very connected to Romeo as a result. All the girls are wonderful instructors, you choose them all perfectly!!
So thank you, thank you, for taking on such a beginner family! We are all delighted and grateful.
Em and co x
I just wanted to say a massive thanks for the intensive course last week. I really, really enjoyed it and feel that I have got so much out of it. Lots to think about and work on and Caroline was absolutely brilliant! I definitely feel I’ve gained confidence and am really looking forward to putting everything I’ve learnt into practice over the next few months.
It was also great to spend so much time at the yard and get to know the staff and horses a bit better. Everyone is just so lovely there and you have such a wonderful team who are always smiling, whatever the weather
Hope the weekend is going well and see you next week!
What a unique special school we have sweetly found. What teachers and lovely people.
Love Melissa McEnroe
Thanks for all you did for Victoria. Incredibly special for her and us. Can’t wait until next year
Thank you so much! Splendid lesson, excellent, patient teacher. Looking forward to booking my next ride with you.
I arrived at Wimbledon Village Stables as an extremely nervous 60 year old, never having ridden before in my life – but having wanted to ever since I saw horses (pulling carts!) on the streets when I was a toddler. For my first lesson I was put on the wonderful, safe Inky – who I immediately fell in love with! Might I add that it was January: bitterly cold and pouring with rain but I hardly noticed with the thrill of achieving a lifelong dream at last!
That was over four years ago and I can’t begin to describe how much happiness riding and being around horses has brought me. Everyone at WVS is so friendly and helpful – that includes all the staff and all the other riders. The quality of instruction is superb and all the horses are superb too. It is so obvious that their welfare is paramount and that the horses are happy and contented. Just walk into the yard and see all the alert and interested faces looking out at you (and they become even more alert and interested if you have foodie treats with you!!!) Having ridden on Wimbledon common in all weathers and in all seasons, it really is the most beautiful place to take lessons or enjoy a hack. The other unique thing about WVS is the amount of workshops, lectures and demonstrations etc. that are put on for members. This is a real bonus and they are always interesting and informative. Having recently become a regular volunteer in the yard, I realise how hard all the staff work at both ends of the day – and that’s without giving lessons all day! I never hesitate to recommend WVS to anyone thinking of taking up or returning to riding.
Yours Jane Back to top
The Queen has asked me to thank you and the proprietors of Wimbledon Village Stables for your kind letter containing a message of loyal greeting to Her Majesty, sent on the occasion of the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Queens Accession to the throne. Her Majesty was interested to learn that you will be holding a special Diamond Jubilee ride on 5th June across Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park and sends her best wished to all concerned for a most memorable and enjoyable day.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am returning to Brittany soon and for good. I have enjoyed so many years of riding at the yard, I will take with me precious and very sweet memories which will long last. WVS is not only about riding, it goes way beyond in my view. Thanks to the charity rides, the BBQs, the Members shows, the monthly lunches, the Ball and all the other social activities, you have created something very special and riding at WVS provides your members with a sense of belonging to a true riding community. I will miss all of you so much… And Clyde and Winnie especially, and all the fantastic people I have met and shared hours of horse riding with, not to mention your staff who have all contributed along the years to better me as a rider, therefore as a person. Thank you all, from the heart.
My mom and I wanted to send our thanks for the great hack we had at WVS last week. We are so glad we found WVS and were able to ride there during our trip to London. My mom is still talking about how much she loved Guinness, and I had a great time cantering through the woods on Hazy. This is by far the best experience I’ve had riding abroad. Of course we would love to return the favour! If you or any of the other WVS are ever in Chicago, the farm where our horses reside is just 45 minutes away. We would love to welcome you to our barn and show you some American riding and have your ride our Morgans at Merriehill Farm http://www.merriehillfarm.com/).
All the best, Nicole and Susan
Before I joined Wimbledon I hadn’t really ridden for 10 years, I was nervous, had terrible habits and initially thought it would be nice just to spend Saturday mornings hacking round the park. What I have found is a whole different riding experience. Wimbledon is nothing like any other stables that I have ridden at previously, the people are incredibly knowledgeable, friendly and helpful and the horses are fantastic. I never thought I would be in a position to share a horse (both from a confidence and experience perspective) but the instructors at WVS particularly Jenny and Fiona have made me realise my potential.
It is a truth universally acknowledged truth that anyone who spends the working week sitting at a PC and hanging from a rail on a cramped tube is in need of an antidote at the weekend. While a stroll in Richmond Park may seem an attractive remedy, this can leave you suffering from horse-rider envy as one flies by at a canter, or gets more up-close and personal with the deer than mere pedestrians can. In the light of my own search for the ultimate office and TFL cure, I can thoroughly recommend the Wimbledon Village Stables treatment. This encompasses a carefully supervised rural hack on a well-schooled, happy horse that fits the rider’s physique, personality and expertise. The medicine, however, should come with the following caution: WVS equestrian activities can be addictive. I have even been tempted to seek a fix while away holiday, but have become very picky about what, where and with whom I ride when away from home after getting accustomed to WVS all round high standards. Tricia Back to top
As someone who had learned to ride as a child but hadn’t been on a horse for years, it was with a bit of trepidation that I got back on a horse as an adult at Wimbledon Village Stables..5 years on, I have never looked back. For those learning to ride from scratch, or returning to riding after a long period of time, I haven’t yet come across a better and more welcoming stables. For me personally, not only do I get to ride every week on fabulous, good-natured horses but the extensive social side to the stables…balls, quizzes, dinners, bbqs..(you name it!) mean it is now a big, fun and very important part of my life. It’s also the only thing that can get me out of bed early every single Saturday morning! Eimear
I first started visiting WVS’s with my two five year old twins. Having never ridden before I now ride with my children every week and own one of the horses stabled in the yard. Come rain or shine it is a part of the week I most look forward to. The instructors and staff are first rate and I could not recommend WVS highly enough.
Chris and family
Thank you so much for the final cheques which brings the total raised from your Charity Ball to £13,230.50.
This superb amount will be for the benefit of the Children’s and Young Person’s Centre. Once again, words fail me to express how grateful we are for your immense support as through your fundraising, you truly have made a huge difference to the lives of thousands of Royal Marsden patients and for that we are eternally grateful. Many congratulations for raising so much money and for organising a magnificent event – your continuous dedication is so greatly appreciated.
Hope you have a lovely summer and look forward to hearing from you all soon. Amanda Heaton (Fundraising & Community Development Manager), Royal Marsden Hospital – Sutton Back to top
This is a particularly well run enterprise. There are well documented procedures manuals containing photographs and clearly typed instructions for all work practices. There are risks associated with horse riding and these have been diminished to a minimum. Other than note the high quality of control there was little else to do and no remedial instructions were left.
Health & Safety Executive Inspector
I joined WVS as a member a month ago to get back into riding, having learnt as a child. The WVS instructors have made me feel confident about remembering how to ride from the outset, providing me with excellent teaching and guidance to improve my riding skills. The stables also offers lots of extra activities including horse care courses and social events. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and friendly place to ride close to London.
I’ve had such a brilliant time as a member of the stables, and I’ve loved every minute, rain and shine, of riding all the lovely horses. My confidence in riding has gone from strength to strength, I remember turning up on my first day and barely being able to canter in a circle without feeling sick – in April this year I took a horse I’d never even seen before around a 3 foot sponsored ride and did almost every jump. This simply wouldn’t be possible without the support, tuition and development I’ve received at the hands of WV staff, and I have you all to thank for a renewed interest and enthusiasm for riding. Jo
I started riding at Wimbledon Village Stables as a Silver Member 2 years ago just days after arriving from Australia. WVS was the last stables in London I looked at for membership, and from the moment I stepped foot inside their grounds I loved it. I have ridden at many stables around the world including New York, Singapore and Australia, but never have I seen a better kept and run stable. All areas within the stables were clean and tidy, and the tack room is absolutely spotless. The whole place runs like a well oiled machine, thanks to the efficient and dedicated staff chosen by the wonderful owners Carol and Caroline. The horses at the stables are happy and healthy and well cared for, it is obvious to see they love it there too.
WVS offers Members and owners alike a wide and varied range of courses and demonstrations throughout the year. I took part in many courses and watched in awe the wonderful demonstrations held by the very talented instructors, they show us how it’s meant to be done! My favourite part of my time here were my private jumping lessons with Lisa, usually riding Dollar or Rollo.
Wimbledon Village Stables supports charities through various events throughout the year including The Annual Charity Ball held at Cannizaro House and the Annual Sponsored Ride. I volunteered at the Summer Show as a Steward for the jumping events, a great day was had by all. I loved watching the riders from our stables compete, and win.
On a more personal note, I would like to thank the whole staff at the stables for always being there with a smile, even on the most miserable of days. WVS will always be my favourite memory of living in London, I will miss it everyday. I will keep their brilliant web site in my favourites so I can see the horses when ever I like. Kalie. Back to top
I just wanted to email and say how excellent I thought the dressage demonstration was.
The horses and instructors are brilliant and the demonstration was another example of that. Having enjoyed riding Lilly recently I feel I must comment how lovely she looked! I feel very lucky to ride such talented horses and receive such a high standard of instruction. It was great to see the 3 horses all at different stages in their education.
I’m looking forward to putting some of this in to practice in my lessons, when I’ll no doubt have more questions! It was generous of you all to put this on. Sophie
Just wanted to say thank you to you, Carol and Claire for organising such another great day. That’s the first course (Riding Inside Out) I’ve done at the stables and I really enjoyed it and think I got a lot out of it too. It was so nice that it worked well for all our varying levels of ability and confidence and I hope the others all got something relevant for them out of it as well. When I was practising what Caroline C had said on the way back on Casper, I loved how striking the difference felt even though the changes were so subtle, yet at the same time so huge (if that makes sense)! Nancy
Many congratulations to you all on another successful sponsored ride this year £15,000 is quite a remarkable sum given the current financial climate. On behalf of the Conservators may I thank you for your very kind donation. It is always very much appreciated.
Gordon Vincent, Clerk & Ranger, Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators
I just wanted to thank you all for organising such a terrific day for us (Our Sponsored Ride). In addition to the very worthwhile cause, it was a great day out. The weather was lovely, the company good, Phillie was perfect and I felt I was able to continue to increase my riding skills. Such fun; rounded off by a really nice lunch and the thoughtful distribution of tokens, champagne and rosettes (my first!) so that we all went away feeling good. Many thanks for setting it up. Best wishes Susan Back to top
I decided to return to riding after many years and chose riding for fun at Wimbledon Village Stables (WVS). I am gradually regaining equestrian-style fitness, having put in over 200 rides. Members are guaranteed one ride every week – a boost for what soon becomes an addiction – that luxury which slowly turns into an essential. The good value is in the quality of instruction, the safe and sure piloting on hacks by the instructors and in the horses. I have ridden around 16 horses at WVS, some only once or twice, others many times. A few have retired and three have passed away, including the gentle giant of a grey gelding who was my first ride at the stables. I have found something to learn from all of them. Charles WS – Silver Member
The riding training Jenny has given me has been absolutely vital in keeping me alive out here! I have done all sorts of stunts… had to gallop through flaming catapults with explosions going off all around me last week…I had to do a big jump over a fence but after 2 failed attempts the stunt man had to step in so maybe next time! I hope to keep up the riding so hopefully see you when I get back and once again a huge thank you to Jenny and everyone else at the stables.
Clive Standen, Actor
Having had a 43 year break , WVS have helped me return to riding in a friendly, well run and well informed environment. The horses are a joy to ride and teaching staff excellent. I’m hooked! Lindsay
A few weeks ago I came to ride at the stables and went out with Vickie for a ride. I spoke with her about my idea for possibly doing a short film about the stables. I came with the intention of going only for a ride. It was lovely, a beautiful day, and Vickie gave me some good lessons. I used to ride a lot as a young girl but have not in a long time and it was wonderful to have some refresher lessons. What struck me as well was the candid simplicity with which Vickie spoke about how much she enjoyed her job, how wonderful the business was and how connected the customers, horses and staff were. . Your business is lovely. I felt very real people all around me. You can’t fake this, it is only real, when it is real. I would like to explore a way to learn something from what is happening there to help people, children, around the world, bring that kind of world of possibility to their own schools, communities, families. Katalina (USA) Back to top
Having chosen Wimbledon Village Stables to come back to riding after a gap of many years, I feel I couldn’t have found a better place and only wish I’d done it sooner. All the staff are friendly, expert and helpful, and the horses are a privilege to ride. With the fantastic scenery of the Common as well, you couldn’t ask for more! I’m really happy riding at WVS, and it’s the perfect antidote to the working week… I recommend it 110%! Briony
Everyone has been so incredibly welcoming and supportive, and I can’t thank you enough for letting me be a part of your team over the past few months. It’s been a true honor and privilege to work beside and learn from such a talented and dedicated team of professionals who love what they do. Volunteer – Paul
Thank you Jenny for everything. For caring and believing we can learn, making us work on what we thought we couldn’t do and encouraging us all the way. I’ve learnt so much. Dede
Just to say thank you all for having me for work experience last week and the week before, I really enjoyed it and it’s definately given me the horsey bug again! I’m going to go back to the stables where I used to help out at and ride at when I was younger over the summer and work there and start riding regularly again, so I blame you guys for getting me back into it Zara, work experience student I found your stables, your horses (my horse for the day was Chloe) and my instructor (Caroline) to be of the highest quality and will have no hesitation in recommending you to anyone who will listen! Katherine, USA Back to top
Just a quick note to say thanks for organising the dressage demo last Saturday. I really enjoyed it and as always took away with me some good tips and inspiration (Natalia’s leg position – enough said!!). Dollar looked amazing! Please pass on thanks to all concerned and I look forward to the next one (please). Jan
Thank you for making one of my dreams come true…… to have some great ‘horse riding’ experiences and meet new friends with similar interests. Inge
I have had a couple of horses at Wimbledon Village Stables and I can honestly say that Carol, Caroline, Claire and the staff have been kind, professional and incredibly helpful. They have taught me a lot about both riding, and horse care and I am very grateful to them all. Charchie, owner of lovely Holly
“I started riding at WVS almost 2 years ago and arrived as a very nervous beginner! But with such patient and enthusiastic instructors to encourage and challenge me it’s been a wonderful experience improving my riding and enjoying the beautiful common. There is a very social and supportive atmosphere and a Saturday morning ride isn’t complete without a cup of coffee with friends afterwards. And I haven’t even mentioned the horses yet! I have my favourite of course, but they are all so well loved and cared for and each has a unique personality and is a pleasure to ride. It really is the highlight of my week!” Simone, South Africa Back to top
I would say to anyone who is thinking about doing any of the horse care courses that you should as I have found it extremely valuable in both my riding and my knowledge of horses. And a HUGE thanks to all the staff at the stables for their help and support throughout the whole time. Jo
I’ve been a Gold member of Wimbledon Village Stables since 2004 where I ride twice a week. The horses are fit and happy, the staff friendly and helpful and the Stables is clean and convenient for public transport. It’s my oasis from my busy life teaching Pilates in Kensington Gillian Greenwood
It was wonderful to discover a stable of happy, willing horses so close to Central London, and also to be supported by Carol and all the positive team as a nervous rider only recently getting ‘back on the horse’. Wimbledon Village has a wide range of horses and ponies all with very individual personalities, and they are very sensitive to matching horse and rider to keep both happy, learning and secure. It has to be the cleanest and nicest smelling yard in all my travels, and with a perky face peering out of every stall (and even the office)! I would wholeheartedly recommend this stables to anyone of any experience, from the most timid knee-shakers to my horse-loving acquaintances with years of competing. Poppy, W2
Jean and I want to say “thank you to you and Jenny, Claire and Natasha who took us out when we rode at the stables during our vacation. We were very impressed with the quality of the horses we rode at Wimbledon Village Stables, and the professionalism of the staff. It’s a joy to ride well-cared for, well-trained horses. Our rides with you will be wonderful memories for us, and we hope that we get an opportunity to visit you again. Sincerely, Mary Ann and Jean, USA Back to top
I started riding at WVS over 28 years ago and over the years it has become almost like a second home to me…..Carol, Caroline and all their staff have made me and my family feel so welcome over this time and they continue to provide some of the best quality riding to be found (at least I think that’s the case, but I haven’t really ridden anywhere else in 28 years!). Linda
“I LOVE WIMBLEDON VILLAGE STABLES! AND ALL THE LOVELY PONIES AND HORSES THERE. I HAVE LEARNT SO MANY THINGS IN MY LESSONS.” FROM POPPY
I joined WVS in December last year and I just wanted to say a big thank you to all of the team for re-introducing me to horse riding. The stables are very well managed and organise lots of events for their members. I now enjoy riding more than I ever did, because of the great instructors, the beautiful common and last but not least the fantastic and well looked after horses and ponies. Renske.
What attracted me to WVS was the fact that firstly, unlike most riding schools, the lessons take place through Wimbledon Village and onto the Common. For me, riding is about ‘real life’ riding and not so much ‘school work’ (I have no ambition to appear in the Olympics!) so combining lessons, and training hacks in the beautiful scenery of Wimbledon Common seemed absolutely perfect! Secondly, I was pleasantly surprised by the knowledgeable, helpful and friendly the staff and instructors; I was made to feel very welcome on my initial visit. I had ‘phoned numerous other stables beforehand and was either met by an answerphone message – to which I never got a reply – or someone who either sounded bored, disinterested and/or hurried! Lastly, as animal welfare is of extreme importance to me, I was delighted to be greeted that day by a row of friendly, interested faces appearing over the stable doors as soon as I set foot in the yard. And although WVS is a city yard (but you’d hardly believe it when you see the Common!) with no turn out of it’s own, what ‘clinched the deal’ was the fact that all the horses have regular ‘holidays’ away from the stables on a farm where they can be Just Horses. This I feel, is so important to both their mental and physical well-being and is proof (if it were ever needed!) that the horses at WVS are well-loved and well cared for. You just have to look at how smart they are to know that they get the very best of care and attention. What more can I say? WVS is the best place to ride in London. Wonderful, well-schooled and happy horses, great instructors, caring owners and beautiful surroundings. What more could a rider wish for? Linda C Back to top
I had longed to ride as a child, but sadly it was way beyond my parents’ budget so, when my daughter Olivia said she would like to learn to ride, I was pleased to be able to oblige. I suppose I was doing the classic thing of living my dream through my child, but she hasn’t complained so far. There was never any contest about her favourite pony at Wimbledon Village Stables – it was always Rolo. Olivia had been riding Rolo every week for nearly a year when, just before Christmas 2003, Hilary (Alice’s owner) rang me with the momentous news that Rolo might be coming up for sale. I knew immediately that we’d have to try and buy her because I couldn’t bear the thought of her going to anyone else. (Response from husband: “Are you completely mad?”) I was so excited on Christmas Eve that I couldn’t sleep. On Christmas morning we managed to get the whole family up to the stables including Grandma, Grandad and a rather reluctant older brother, without arousing any suspicion. Olivia was just thrilled to be at the stables on Christmas Day for the first time and was wholly unaware of what was about to happen. As we walked into the yard, Rolo was brought out to meet us and stood before the assembled crowd looking absolutely beautiful, bedecked with tinsel, ribbons, bells and bows and a huge sign round her neck saying “Merry Christmas Olivia”. I’d like to say that I had a little tear; the truth was my shoulders started heaving and, once I started, I couldn’t stop. Olivia was handed Rolo’s reins and she stood there holding her and grinning, slightly bemused why everyone was clapping and cheering and her mother was standing there sobbing. It still never occurred to her that she was being given Rolo as her Christmas present. We had to spell it out to her and, when the penny eventually dropped, she went completely white, clasped her hand to her mouth like they do in films, and was totally silent for a good minute or so. This is quite unusual. On the way home, a deliriously happy Olivia declared, “My dream has just come true and I am the luckiest girl in the world”. It wasn’t just Olivia’s dream – it was mine too. And my Mum and Dad were there to see it. Deborah Back to top
I wanted to express my gratitude for all the pleasure I enjoyed at the Show and the BBQ on Saturday. You must all have worked very hard to produce such a well organised event. As a newcomer attending my first show it was lovely to meet so many people who all made me feel very welcome. i did actually learn a thing or two as well! I really enjoyed seeing the horses I know jumping and their performance in the musical ride was spectacular. The riders of course had something to do with that and were superb despite the heat. I do hope they enjoyed it as much as the spectators. They all seemed pretty happy in the evening. Once again Carol my thanks to you and all your staff for a wonderful day. Kind regards. Margaret
The winner of our Dressage Competition writes: Of course I was thrilled and delighted to win the dressage competition riding Casper. He is a lovely horse, as we all know, and that he scored so highly in the collective marks for “paces” and “impulsion” would be no surprise to anyone who has ridden him, but to do just as well in “submission” is a real tribute to the boy, he was on his very best behaviour! Watching Natalija ride Pod in the recent dressage demonstration illustrated just how well the harmony between horse and rider can be achieved. It was an inspiration to us all. I know for sure that her Grand Prix level is well beyond my ability but what we can see and learn here at Wimbledon brings me a huge amount of satisfaction and enjoyment as I am sure it does for you – and lets face it having fun is what riding should be all about! Lynda Back to top
Having ridden at the yard — then Hilcote, run by Jean Kirkpatrick — as a child (you can see me in one of the photos on the History page), it was natural that I should return to Wimbledon Village Stables when I decided to take up riding again many years later and I could not have chosen better. As a livery at WVS for more than 20 years, it is self-evident that I find the yard provides not only a caring home for my horses for four years, Spooky for 14 and Rory for the past two and a half), but also a perfect balance between professionalism and friendliness.
Over the years, I have been constantly impressed by the many changes that Carol and her team have wrought, often finding improvements when it looked to me as a livery — and something of a perfectionist myself — as if none were needed. My horses have always been happy at WVS, well cared for, well exercised and well schooled by the staff and the support infrastructure (farrier, vets), while during my many, many hours of riding, I have benefited from the excellent tuition, enjoyable company and beautiful countryside. The variety of activities that is on offer, whether lessons, hacks on the common or in Richmond Park, or the possibility of excursions to pastures new, has meant that throughout my time at the yard, I have always been able to find something that suited my mood, whether I was looking for achievement or relaxation (although the latter was typically not possible when riding Spooky). In addition, and equally important to me, I have made many close friends, and my life would have been much duller and less fulfilled without WVS. Susan Back to topArticle in Mail on Sunday
ARTICLE IN SW MAGAZINE -In the saddle Forget cycling, forget walking, for Lucie Greene nothing can beat the exhilaration of riding horseback over a vast and sunny Wimbledon Common The last time I went riding I was eight and as I stood in the courtyard of Wimbledon Common Stables on a sunny summer’s morning, my inexperience was clear for everyone to see. I’d not even touched a horse yet, but my attire spoke volumes. I tried to explain to my instructor, Jenny Rudall, that my long floaty skirt was actually quite practical (and not part of some misguided romantic galloping-across-the-moors Wuthering Heights fantasy), but she good-naturedly insisted on finding me jodhpurs, chaps, boots (to replace my flip flops) and a riding hat – and my legs were extremely grateful for it later. With the attire complete and appropriate forms filled out, I was introduced to Chloe my horse for the day. To me she looked like a race horse and it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I approached her, but everyone was very reassuring and under their extremely competent guidance, I was helped into the saddle.
There followed a much-needed tutorial in every detail of how to control the horse, how to hold the reigns, and where my feet should be. Then, with Rudall on her own mare, we were off to the common. Tucked away behind the Dog & Fox pub, Wimbledon Common Stables were originally established as the Hilcote Riding School in 1915 and then re-launched in 1980 by Carol Andrews. With Wimbledon Common covering some 1,100 acres and Richmond Park another 2,700 acres, they have a vast area to roam and run on and off-path hacks as far as Ham and Richmond for experienced riders. There are also two all-weather riding schools which have a whole mix of lessons, attracting a range of clientele from young mothers who attend their “Desperate Horse Wives” six-week course (which includes tea and cakes), to options for their more experienced riders including a show jumping course, and for exercise fanatics a Fitness and Fun course. “We teach you all about the horse, and like people to be able to tack and un-tack. It’s a hands-on stables,” Rudall explained.
They also run lessons for children, and complete novices. “We like to encourage advanced horse riders at the stables also, because it gives the horses variety,” she continued. All too soon my lesson was drawing to an end and it was time to return. Jenny and I made our way back to the village, where we crossed the road at the specially-raised horse traffic lights, and clip-clopped into the stables. Even here Rudall was a resolute professional, signalling traffic when it needed to stay back, and bringing us up to the Dog & Fox pub carefully. “Sit back in your seat and pull your shoulders back. Show Chloe off!” she said, as cars, and small children watched on. And I did. Article in Arts London NewsBack to top
Darryl Does… Horse riding by Darryl McKay This week Darryl trots over to Wimbledon to have a canter… When I last went horse-riding I was about nine. The lesson was supposed to start at 9am but unfortunately I was late. Jordan and me rushed up Wimbledon Hill road and got to the stables at 0910. Wimbledon Village Stables is the oldest riding school in Britain so I knew this was going to be professional. I was welcomed by Carol Andrews and introduced to my instructor Vickie Lodge. I really expected to be riding alongside an aged veteran, say 50 or above, not a lovely young lady in her twenties, so you can imagine how happy I was.
Looking the part I was wearing tight jeans and my Barbour jacket, which I thought was appropriate. I sat in the office and changed footwear, from trainers to brown leather riding boots. Then put on my chaps and riding hat. Now I’m 5 foot 11′inches and weigh 14stone. My horse was massive and to say he was built like a horse would be an understatement, more like an athlete, solid as a rock. Vickie broke down the basics for me. From how to handle the reins to how my feet should be positioned. The instructor talked me through it step by step, like we were cooking, but I couldn’t grasp what she was telling me. I was so confused and overwhelmed by the situation presented to me. The Local Scene. The stables are located behind the Dog and Fox pub in Wimbledon village and the community are used to seeing horse riders emerge from the small side-road on a daily basis.
An estate agent explained to me that it was a familiar sight that was very welcomed: “It’s what makes this village so special!”. During the tutorial I proceeded to question Vickie about horse-riding and the stigma attached to it. She admittedly agreed; “That it’s a sport for privileged people who can afford to take part in it”. For some bizarre reason I asked her “What happens to horses when they die?” she responded “That’s not a very nice question!” Then mentioned something about carcasses….. As I spotted a dog run across the field I asked “What are the most common breeds of horse?” I found out that the most popular were Thoroughbred, the Arabian and Rakehner.
Throughout the lesson I had a tendency to lean forward but was continually corrected by Vickie regarding my posture “Keep a straight back and stand tall” she shouted. The Technique: I learnt how to make the horse walk by squeezing its sides with my legs (basically giving it a nudge). Then I got the horse to trot it’s a two step procedure that has the horse moving its legs diagonally in pairs. .After the trot came the canter, which is a three beat step, one side of the legs don’t mirror the actions of those on the other. I was thrilled at the prospect of galloping but just as we started to canter the session came to an end.I got the horse to slow down and come to a halt by pulling on the reins slightly. Then to turn around I pulled on the appropriate reign, left or right to make the horse turn in the desired direction, until he turned the full 180 degrees (half circle) and headed home.
At the end of the session Vickie made a call from her mobile. She didn’t actually speak to anyone because the number she dialled automatically activated the special horse traffic lights. This enabled us to get to the stables without contravening the flow of traffic as we’re given a short space of time on the road. The end of the session. I was gutted once I got back to the stables because I wanted longer. I really wanted to get back out there and go again. The ride was exhilarating and I had a mad buzz about me; I was ecstatic and so proud of myself and the way I handled the horse. I honestly think that Chris Eubank and Derrick from Big Brother are the only other black guys who enjoy horse riding.. Any student, especially those of you at Wimbledon or Chelsea, should visit the stables because it’s been around for over one hundred years and is an integral part of the village’s history. In my opinion the facilities alone put it head and shoulders above any other riding school in London; it offers 2,700 acres of land in Richmond Park along with a schooling ring. On a student budget it will cost a substantial amount of money.
To take up the hobby with annual membership starts from £330.One thing I did take note of was the fact that myself and Jordan were the only blokes at the stables. Maybe it was the time of day? Mind you, I can empathise with any guy who is dithered by the sheer agony of riding, considering the excruciating pain I experienced in my crotch once I started to walk. Ouch! Southern uncomfort indeed… Back to top
- Award winners!
Winners of Best Hospitality & Leisure at South London Business Awards 2012
Winners Best Hospitality & Leisure at Merton Business Awards 2012
- Richmond Park Rides
Whatever the season it is always a pleasure to ride in Richmond Park. Available Tuesday-Fridays at 9.00 or 10.15. For riding levels 4-6. Sign up now if you would like to go