More members needed to give riding club a new lease of life

Gordon Williamson with his horse Saunder. Photo: Dave Donaldson
Gordon Williamson with his horse Saunder. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Shetland Riding Club is seeking new members to boost the club’s numbers and give it a new lease of life.

The club is holding an emergency annual general meeting on Monday 29th April and is hoping anyone interested in horses will come along.

Without more members the club is in danger of folding and spokesman Gordon Williamson said they were trying to raise funds for an indoor arena. But the club needs an injection of enthusiasm for this to come about.

Numbers have gradually dwindled to nine and the club needs more to survive – at least 12 would make it viable. It also wants to form  a new committee to carry forward its plans.

At the moment the new indoor arena is the priority. Mr Williamson said members used to use the old salmon hatchery which was “brilliant” for the winter.

He said: “It kept us and the horses in good shape.” But then the salmon industry took it back, leaving the riding club looking for a suitable building.

Premises at Girlsta had been offered to the club, Mr Williamson said. “The building is on the upper side of loch, we could get it if we wanted it, we haven’t got planning permission yet but are at stage to apply.”

But although some funds have already been gathered, the club has reached an “impasse” as a lot of people have left. Mr Williamson said: “It’s time for a fresh look at the club.”

The club already has a lot of offer: it has a field to jump in at Tingwall and a “huge” amount of “really good equipment”. Mr Williamson said if more people would join they could start the leagues and competitions again and start hacking out on Sundays. In the past the club used to hire instructors to come up, and members took part in events in places such as Orkney and Edinburgh.

This could be possible again with more people – and, crucially, if “everyone could come together”, a committee could be formed to progress the indoor arena.

Mr Williamson urged people to come to the forthcoming meeting, which is to be held in Herrislea House Hotel. He said: “Anybody of any age who interested is welcome and you don’t have to own your own horse.”

He pointed out the sport is not just for youngsters – he was 45 before he sat on a horse. And when he did he was “was completely hooked.” More men were needed too, he said, and urged anyone who would like to know more to come to the meeting.

“The club’s had a difficult time but come along and see if you are interested,” Mr Williamson added.


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