We are very pleased to have the support of Allegra’s Ambition, a charity formed by the family of Allegra Whittome who died suddenly and unexpectedly 16 days before her 16th birthday. It’s purpose is to help young people improve their lives through sport and nature.
The charity recently paid to have an area adjoining our yard fenced off as a grass paddock – a great addition to our existing wood chip turnout area.
Allegra was a talented rider and a popular member of Hampshire Hunt Pony Club so she was very much on everybody’s mind when we were invited to bring 24 of our members to Herriard Park, near Basingstoke.
An enormous amount of organisation had taken place in advance which included borrowing a pony for every one of our young riders and what lovely ponies they were! Each of our members was introduced to their pony by its young owner who then helped lead them, when necessary.
It was wonderful to see this generosity and enthusiasm in young people and friendships formed quickly. As Lucy Whittome, Allegra’s mother said afterwards, “It was our aim that the pony club members should get as much out of volunteering their time and ponies as their visitors.”
In the morning, they were divided into five groups according to ability. The most experienced group was taught by Julian White, who has played a vital part of Ebony Horse Club since we opened our centre in 2012.
Julian has volunteered many hours of his time and his considerable expertise as an instructor to EHC and accompanied our members on residential and day trips. He also volunteers at HH PC so it was terrific to have him with us at Herriard Park.
Once his group had done some jumping in the arena, set up for their annual show the next day, he took them off for a hack and some cross country practice. Other groups did gymkhana games and pole work then after a delicious barbecue lunch, they set off on a hack across the magnificent countryside. Quite an experience for many of the young riders who have only ever ridden in our Brixton arena.
It was 4o’clock when we piled back onto the mini buses and the children were still buzzing with accounts of their day when we arrived back in Brixton. Marie’s only complaint was that she couldn’t bring her pony home! “Can we go back next year?” asked Kelsey. We do hope so.
We can’t thank everyone involved from HH Pony Club enough for the welcome we received and the fun we had and for Allegra’s Ambition for making it all possible.
We are seeing increasing numbers of our members pursuing equine careers as apprentices, working pupils or by attending college and university. It is trips like our day at Herriard, mixing with their ‘horsey’ peer group that can spark ambition even in a ten year old who is still on lead rein.
As a charity, we rely on generous grants from charitable trusts, fundraising support and donations from individuals to ensure we can provide much-needed services and support to children and young people in the local community.