George’s Ranch got well and truly into the Christmas spirit this week with a visit from Santa Claus during our monthly Toddlers’ Group and a brilliant fancy-dressage to music competition and obstacle course rounding off one of the best, fun-filled – and very festive – days we’ve had at the yard.
In many ways, the fun day was a fitting end to a wonderfully successful year in which we’ve continued to expand and develop facilities for both riders and visitors. We also introduced new equestrians to the competitive side of the sport, and the hacks that we first built our reputation upon returned to fore of our attention.
While during the last few years I’ve concentrated more on meeting the competition demands of an ever-growing team of enthusiastic and ambitious young riders, the Ranch hacks continued to generate a healthy interest thanks to the beautiful location and our solid team of hacking horses. However, this year we upped our game quite considerably.
Our Yard Manager Michelle has always been very enthusiastic about the hacks and as she has been in the job for a number of years now I’ve really been able to step back and let her take charge of this part of the business. Our new instructor Karen is also an avid fan of hacking which meant we could offer new hacking routes and experiences designed to cater to all levels. So, this year we reintroduced experienced rides and we were able to offer hacks all the way down to St George after a private road was reopened to allow exclusive access to our horses alongside the luxury new Cap St George resort. The route has been a fabulous success and we’ve received some great reviews and feedback from tourists, a number of whom have kept in touch via Facebook. Michelle and Karen have also been the driving force behind our incredibly successful Toddlers’ Groups and Pony Camps this year. So, watch this space for similar exciting events happening next year!
Whilst there has been a noticeable step back from the shows this year, our riders have continued to improve, something that has been evident in the competitions we do attend. We also introduced new riders – Melina, Lana, Ella and Hannah – to the competition circuit, and we will continue to help them progress in the shows next year.
Without doubt, there has been a wonderful atmosphere at the Ranch this year and I’m sure the work-in-progress that comes with constantly updating and improving our facilities has added to the general air of excitement and passion running through the place. New paddocks, tie-up areas and professionally-maintained sand arenas have brought in new clients and energised existing ones. There is a very real sense of excitement and ambition about the Ranch, and I have not been immune to it either!
Although I haven’t competed in a single show this year this was partly because it was not on my list of targets to achieve, but it was also because I’ve been training with the F.E.I 4 Star international judge Mr Peter Hansaghy who also judges events here in Cyprus, and I thought it would be difficult to compete under a judge I’m training with. Another reason, is that it’s simply not the right time for me. I have two very nice young horses I’m training, one of whom is particularly difficult so I would prefer to use my time getting him really good at home before he goes to any shows. As for my other horse, I’m not especially interested in competing him in Cyprus and, luckily for me, he is a horse that doesn’t need so much show experience.
This year, I’ve also had the chance to take lessons with a number of international trainers including Amy Woodhead, Pammy Hutton and Judy Bradwell. It was a privilege to welcome them to George’s Ranch – along with Peter Hansaghy – and it was hugely inspiring to learn from these phenomenal talents. And in other exciting news, my young stallion was broken in England this year, which makes him an up-and-coming prospect for next year.
Of course, before the New Year begins we have Christmas to enjoy first so I would like to finish by thanking all my clients for their continued support in 2016. I am also immensely grateful to my staff who work so hard all year round, in all weathers. It is not an easy job as it’s very physical, but it can also be very rewarding, and not one member of staff has let us down this year. They are all very committed and, whatever time of year it is, I know they are always here to look after the horses. They do a great job and it’s a huge pressure off me not to worry about that.
So, with all that said – and heartfelt thanks given – I would like to wish everyone a VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS! See you in 2017!