Saturday, May 25Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Riding: Club of the Year

What is your position within the club?

I’m Captain, which means that my main focus is the competitive side of Riding. I look after our three competitive teams, organise competitions, and liaise with BUCS.

How did it feel to win ‘Club of the Year’ at Colours Ball?

It was absolutely thrilling. It had been on our minds all year, but to actually win the award was just amazing. In September, it seemed such a remote possibility, but the club has made so many positive changes in the last few months and grown hugely. To have this formally recognised was really the cherry on top of a fantastic year for Riding.

What has been your club’s biggest achievement this year?

There have been so many highlights, but I’ll narrow it down to two main achievements. The first has been the development and growth of the club this year. We now have over 50 students riding weekly, many of who came into the club in September as complete beginners and have completely thrown themselves into the sport, as well as many more members who take part in our unmounted activities; we were amazed to hit 100 members this year! The social side of the club has also increased hugely, as have the opportunities we’ve been able to offer to our members, including official qualifications. Seeing the club grow over the year has been fantastic.

For me as Captain, the other major achievement was having 2 teams qualify for Regionals. It’s so hard to advance in the Equestrian competitions, but our A Team came 2nd at Regionals, with Georgie Wood qualifying for Nationals, and our C Team beat a League of B teams to end up finishing 3rd at Regionals. This has been our most successful season yet and I’m so proud of all of our teams.

What is your favourite thing about being a part of this team?

The camaraderie within club is fantastic. We’re a really mixed bunch, with people who have never ridden before, casual riders, and students who are competing at a national level, but there is no elitism. It takes as much courage to go round a course of 1.20 metre fences as it does to get on a horse for the first time aged 20. Riding is such a varied sport that we all have different goals and support each other in the pursuit of these and everyone is fully involved in the club; some of our committee members for 2016/17 only began riding this year. We’re all there because we want to ride, and that seems to bring everyone together.

What are your plans for next year?

We’d like to keep up the progress we’ve made this year. Some areas we’d like to advance are offering more opportunities to gain qualifications, both inside and outside the equestrian world, and to do more volunteering. We’ve done a lot of fundraising this year, including a charity skydive, but it would be nice to get more hands on with the charities we support and help in their fantastic work.

What would you say to anyone wanting to join next year?

Go for it! I know everyone says this, but we really are a friendly club. Whatever your riding level, we have something to suit all, and the BUCS competitions mean that competent riders can compete without having to have their own horse. Come and see us at the Freshers’ Fayre!