FINDING THE right riding school can make the difference to keep children interested and keen. The number of riding schools have drecreased, however one that's still going strong is Tower Farm, in Edinburgh, which last month celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Tower was established in 1972, when Judy Slessor and John (Jock) Forrest purchased the farm near the Braid Hills area of Edinburgh, that had been operating as a piggery. Judy and Jock got married in 1974 and slowly the stables began to grow, mainly as a riding stables and over the years became a thriving livery as well.
Judy and Jock both believed that horse riding should be an opportunity that most children should afford and tried to make it accessible for all. They worked hard to make it a safe and enjoyable place for all and the centre is approved by the ABRS and TRSS.
Sadly, in 1999, Judy passed away and since then the stables have been run by daughter, Caroline Buckle and yard manager, Debbie Henderson BHSAI.
"Debbie has done a fantastic job of managing the stables. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience spending time in her equestrian career working at the Royal Mews," said Caroline, who has been involved with horses all her her life. She has taken part in most equestrian activites, being most heavily involved with MGA where she represented Scotland and Great Britian, and is a BHSII, a PC A test holder and holds a UKCC2.
"The lessons have always been very popular and we are very lucky to have the panoramic Braid Hills to ride around, with amazing views of Edinburgh.
"We've access to many scenic rides with no road work, most rides go around the Braid Hills Golf Course where you're able to view the whole of Edinburgh including the Pentlands, Arthur Seat, the Castle, the Forth Bridges and many other of Edinburgh's famous landmarks," explained Caroline.
"We offer a wide range of equestrian opportunities from beach rides, common rides, riding and road safety, dressage and showjumping."
"We also have various livery options available and have a lovely atmosphere amongst them, with most competing at pony and riding club level.
"We are also lucky to have Anne Davies who has had her horse at livery with us since the 1970s and is still riding her horse daily while now in her 80s," said Caroline.
As well as lessons and rides, Tower Farm is actively involved in the Borders common rides and have often supplied horses for the official parties.
"In 2009, the Edinburgh common ride started at Tower Farm, it went around the Pentland hills and then into Edinburgh to go up the Royal Mile it was quite an experience to have 250 horses on site for the occasion," added Caroline.
Their facilities include a large indoor arena, which is well utilised by lessons which run seven days a week.
"We also find it excellent for being able to operate lessons till 9.15pm weekday nights sheltered from the elements. We also have many local pony clubs, riding clubs and individuals who hire the facilities regularly.
"The indoor is very important in the Scottish climate, we hold regular unaffiliated competitions and even when they are meant to be outside we can always still facilitate them if weather is bad.
"We have over 30 horses and ponies working in the riding school, most of our horses are purchased by word of mouth and then most stay for life. A good school horse/pony is worth it's weight in gold so thus we don't really sell any on.
"We have been lucky over the years to have been involved in various things including having the Kings Troop to stay for six weeks, the ponies for Cinderella for two months, the horse from Carmen.
"We have also had a few TV appearances, including STV's Vet School and Scoosh. We have also supplied horses for weddings, Domino pizza ads and Tennents beer.
"We would like to thank all the people who have worked hard as staff, volunteers, judges, and in a number of other capacities over the years," added Caroline.
n See more at www.towerfarm.org