School Equestrianism -
what are the options?
Equestrianism at school often conjures up images of large boarding schools associated with the sport, where horses can be made available for a child to ride, or alternatively, each term parents wave off both their child and their horse. There are undeniably many benefits to this especially for the busy working parents. But what happens if this is not for you? Whilst keen for your child to ride with their friends and to represent their school, you may be looking for an alternative.
Already an expensive sport the cost of boarding both child and horse even at entry level is beyond the means of most parents. Perhaps you do not want your child and horse to be away from home. Perfectly happy not to progress beyond the level of Grassroots, your child may not enjoy the more regimented competitive side of riding in these environments. Why change an established partnership with a trainer who knows your child and horse, by fragmenting their training with long periods of absence at school?
Happily there are alternatives and many schools, both in the state and private sector, are now encouraging and supporting equestrian teams. Whilst you will need your own horse and transport to participate, school equestrianism is opening up more and more to children that ride.
Godolphin is an excellent example of what can be achieved by a school that offers both day, full or flexi Boarding alternatives for the child alone.
Karen Addison, the Equestrian Team Manager, reports that she has seen a huge increase in those participating over the last few years. “ Although a small school we are fortunate to have a thriving equestrian team with girls from both the Senior School and Prep School taking part. In 2014 we gained 36 qualifications for the NSEA (National Schools Equestrian Association) Championships and this year we already have 34 qualifications. Godolphin has also qualified to represent Wiltshire in the County Show Jumping and Dressage Championships, came 3rd at The Royal Windsor Horse Show and recently became the Hurstpierpoint National Schools Senior team champions at the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead.
“We obtain no funding from the school but raise money each year by running our own NSEA championship qualifier. Both parents and children help out and we use any money raised to buy kit and subsidise entries for the bigger competitions. Our parents are very keen for their children to compete in teams with their friends and we have a great mix of abilities from National winners to those who just want to have a go. Most importantly it is fun, the children and parents all support each other when things do not go to plan, which with ponies is often the case, and are thrilled when they do.”
Striking a balance between competitiveness and the pure joy and privilege of owning your own horse is always tricky, but maybe you can have it all. Schools such as Godolphin have proved that you do not have to take your horse away to school to become a champion.
If you would like more information – whether you are new to the school or an existing pupil who thinks they are now ready to take their riding further, please contact me via email.
Equestrian Team Manager