Find out more about Reading University’s Riding Club: their activities, lessons, socials and teams.
In their lessons, the beginners have been working up from their first time getting on a horse to starting to learn how to control and work with the horse, which allows them to start progressing to working in trot and then canter and finally beginning to try out jumping for the first time.
Everything has been a challenge at first — especially cantering — but with lots of practice they’ve managed to get really comfortable when starting to move up out of trot and therefore this has improved their riding all round.
They have made a lot of progress so far this year and the beginners value the encouragement and tips from more experienced members of the club, and to be able to start their riding journeys in such a friendly and supportive environment.
The lower lessons have been concentrating on improving their confidence and being more independent when thinking about what aids to apply to their horse in order to get the best out of them.
This has included working in open order to allow the riders to think for themselves and also means that the horses have to think about what they are doing more as they aren’t just following one another around the arena.
To further improve their confidence when it comes to jumping, they have been doing a lot of polework to allow the horses to start listening to what the riders are asking them to do. This has also helped a lot with increasing the confidence in the lowers when it comes to jumping where their skill has begun to grow with all the practice they have been doing.
This year, the highers lessons have mainly been working on the flatwork needed for jumping and have moved on to apply this with actual fences.
They have developed their skills to complete a course of jumps as well as jumping more difficult angles. Their ability has been tested with new exercises using flatwork so that they can begin to correctly ride difficult lines such as dog legs when it comes to jumping.
Using smaller jumps for gymnastic exercises also improves the riders confidence and makes the horses reliant on their riders for clear aids. Therefore, this tests the riders ability and riding different horses each week also allows them to think about the aids they are giving and finding out what works for one horse may not work as well for another.
This year the teams consist of the A and B teams which are part of the BUCS leagues, and this year we have also been lucky enough to fund a Friendlies team which is a really valuable way for our more experienced riders to begin stepping up to teams.
Overall, we have had a mostly successful season with all teams winning their first matches back in November and also included multiple individual placings at each match.
The second match for all teams was on our home ground at Wellington Riding but unfortunately the B team did not have the home advantage and came last – wildly different to the win achieved at the last match.
There were still, however, individual placings despite some strong and misbehaved horses.
The A team continued this infamous legacy and also lost at home, again not helped by horses deciding that they would rather not stay in the arena.
Regardless, individual placings were also achieved at this match and we all hoped that, with the Friendlies home match fast approaching, they would not follow the saying that bad luck comes in threes.
Luckily, the Friendlies did not disappoint and took the win at home and also individual placings of first, third and fourth.
At the next match, the B team took home team second and are now in the running for a regional’s qualification with the fourth and final match fast approaching.
The A team took home a respectable third at their last match and again came away with individual placings.
We are now looking forward to hosting Varsity at the end of March and keep up our run of wins from the past few years, providing that competing at home actually brings us an advantage this time round!
We have had many successful socials this year, with non-alcoholic socials becoming the best way to have fun away from horses! These include a Glitter themed night, Trampolining, Pizza night and a Christmas Dinner.
Article by Joanne Tunbridge and Harriet Salmon