23rd February 2020
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New committee formed to develop horse riding centre

Equestrian fans could soon enjoy the benefits of a purpose-built horse-riding centre, following the development of ambitious plans by a new committee set up this week.

Various proposals have been on the backburner over 40 years, but the new group, operating under the banner Shetland Riding Centre, hopes to have the new build developed over the next couple of years.

Chairwoman of the fledgling committee is horse enthusiast Ali Rennie who has been busily fundraising for the last three years.

Recent efforts have so far helped raise £24,000. But the committee hopes to put together an application for funding to bring in more coffers, which are vital for the project’s future.

The new committee will look at setting up a constitution at a follow-up meeting in two weeks’ time.

It comes amid efforts to establish a local committee of the British Horse Society, which could do more to support equestrian activities in the isles.

Other hurdles which have already been cleared include finding a location for the new build.

Use of the land at the Cunningsburgh showground has been given to the group by the show committee.

Ms Rennie said having a new centre, which could also be opened up to other groups, would do wonders for the pastime.

“Obviously because of our weather, in the winter time you can’t ride on any grass parks, you can’t hold shows because of the darkness.

“Indoors there will be shows that can be held there, training clinics, we can get instructors up from south to do training, because at the moment we’re not training instructors in Shetland and we’ve nobody willing to come up because it’s dark, it’s wet, and it’s windy.

“This will obviously bring younger riders on and older riders. People will get more use out of their horses the whole year round rather than laying them up in September and picking them up again in April. We could have jump leagues, dressage leagues, it could also be hired out to other community groups, car boot sales, dog club, archery club and that kind of things.”

Ms Rennie said the land on the Cunningsburgh show field had been gifted to one of the previous committees which hoped to see the centre built.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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