Deen City Farm celebrates Olympic Legacy funding with Eventers Challenge
16th April 2012
Deen City Farm in Merton, London used an 'Eventers Challenge' competition to celebrate their new facilities. In a bid to increase participation in sport, Sport England funding - secured by the British Equestrian Federation's Olympic Games Legacy project, Hoof, and the London Horse Network - has enabled Deen City Farm to invest in cross-country fences and lighting for their outdoor arena.
Offering pony rides from £1, Deen City Farm provides numerous opportunities for people, who might otherwise never have the chance to get close to horses. One participant to have embraced the opportunity is Kathryn Whybrow, 20, who was part of Deen City Farm's bronze medal winning team at the Team London Dressage Championship last year.
Originally a pupil, then volunteer and then apprentice, Kathryn gave an excellent display of cross-country riding at the event. Her display aboard Tarron, a horse re-homed to the riding school after being rescued by The Blue Cross Charity, had the spectators buzzing with excitement and Kathryn continued by securing the 'staff' section of the competition.
Kathryrn said, "The cross-country was my favourite bit but it was also lovely to watch Jo (Henbrey) give a dressage to music display", adding, "I love watching Jo ride and I hope I'll one day own my own horse to compete."
Indeed, Riding School manager, Jo Henbrey, BHS II SM showed her skill aboard her five year-old mare, Temple Rosemary, who qualified for the Preliminary Regional Finals last year and is already competing at elementary level with British Dressage.
And Jo is aware of just how the new facilities are helping riders to improve in all three phases of eventing - dressage, show jumping and cross-country.
Jo explained, "As well as now having cross-country fences the lighting in the outdoor school has meant we have been able to teach jumping lessons in the evenings over the winter and improve our dressage tuition", adding, "It makes a big difference to be able to see the rider's hands!"
Sara Morawetz, 13, who won the junior section, said, "I do need to work on controlling my horse in the jumping and keeping him out on the turns but I really enjoyed walking the course with Sue Benson." Indeed this was an impromptu treat from the London 2012 Olympic Games cross-country course designer, Sue Benson, who attended the competition to offer a plaque to commemorate the facilities funding.
Sue Benson said, "I really wasn't sure what to expect but to live in an urban area and yet have access to a facility such as this is a privilege and I've been very impressed by the discipline of the riders, their presentation of themselves and the horses, and their hard work on the yard too."
Jo added, "Having Sue, several trustees and representatives from the British Equestrian Federation along with Jodie Maile, volunteer chair of the London Horse Network, certainly added pressure on the competition which some riders coped with better than others - but its good for the riders to experience this as life is all about pressure."
Rising to that pressure was Gemma Gilbride, 15, winner of the senior section, who was praised for keeping a cool head during a difficult show jumping round.
Gemma said, "I love everything to do with horses and have been riding at the farm once a week since I was 9. One day I want to get my own horse and run my own yard."
Sue noted, "The riders are so privileged to be taught by Jo - she's an absolute inspiration and I really feel I've been able to see where the acorns that will grow into oak trees are being sown."
Joining Sue in celebrating the funding, London Representative of the British Equestrian Federation, David Gadsby, said, "Sue really brought the London 2012 Games closer to the riders because although they are physically close to Greenwich Park, the Games could seem a world away from their riding."
"It's been wonderful for me to see just how these riders are endeavoring and are part of the Olympic journey and legacy", added Sue.
And Jo concluded, "I can't tell you how much I feel we (Deen City Farm Riding School) have benefited from Hoof and the London Horse Network over the last couple of years - we thank you all for all your hard work and hope that the legacy may continue long after the Olympics."