Nicola Wilson, Three Day Event rider, Silver Medallist in team GB London 2012, Team Gold at the World Equestrian Games, Team Gold and Bronze at the European Championship, was the honoured guest at Caistor Equestrian Centre in their pageant “The Celebration of the Horse”.
It was a moving and emotional evening where many people had tears in their eyes as the rousing music introduced horses from scenes gone by covering the last 100 years, including Horses in Agriculture; Ponies in Industry; War Horses; Horses in Sport and Horses in Daily Life. There was a Pony Club demonstration from the 1930s.
Powering in with her huge hooves was Jo Webb’s Clydesdale, Isla, representing Agriculture. Broken to harness in just the last 3 weeks, Isla moved around the arena as the commentary revealed the important roll the horse played in the history in agriculture. This was followed on with “The horse in industry”.
Local to Caistor, the ironstone mines of Nettleton were still functioning until the 1960s and pit ponies played a very important part of that production. The pit ponies were lead in by Jo Thompson and … … And… all in traditional period costumes (horses and leaders). “The War Horse” heroically marched into the arena and represented the Lincolnshire Yeomanry with their riders Nick Pennock and Stuart Oden-Walder. Wearing fully authentic First World War costume, their mounts Chocky and Pippin proudly paraded them around in grandeur. “Cure-All” – a historic local racehorse, represented “The Horse in Sport”. Cure-All walked over a week from the local village of Healing to the Grand National: won the Grand National then was walked home again! Che Graves and Callum Watt were the jockey and trainer that evening. “Horses in Daily Life” were represented by a stunning carriage from Stone Farm. Ladies riding astride (or cross-saddle as it was known and seen for the first time in the 1920s) was Mrs Patricia Hudson on her own Scarlett Lady Lou.
In 1929 the Pony Club was founded and this was established to help the younger generation learn good riding skills and general horsemanship. Miss Rebecca Winn and Miss Evie Kendrick exhibited a typical turnout of Pony Club children in the 1930s. Caistor Equestrian Centre has its own Pony Club Centre designed for children to enjoy the Pony Club activities yet not own a pony.
The audience were invited at the end of the opening ceremony to look around all the marvellous displays CEC’s Pony Club children had put together. The instructors – Sam Kirkby, Heather Fry and Emma Stuart, worked with their members and produced informative and interactive table top displays.
The closing ceremony was equally impressive and this demonstrated the role the horse now plays in modern day society. The first of the five themes – The Police Horse – Jo on Isla entered yet again demonstrating the versatility of her horse. Then representing the hugely popular role of “The Horse in Sport” – from Racing, Eventing, Show Jumping, Polo and many more – we had Mrs Doreen Wright on her horse Divine. Doreen and Divine represented Dressage, a sport that has been hugely inspired by the last Olympic performance by Charlotte Dujardin in Rio.
The third display representing the horses’ role in our present day was “The Horse in Therapy”. Caistor Equestrian Centre provides lessons for over 30 pupils with special needs: horse riding develops balance, muscle strength and stimulates a partnership between horse and rider. The achievement to overcome fear, gain self-confidence and the independence of movement has proved a great benefit to many of the pupils. “Animal Welfare” was the fourth role represented by the pageant and a pony called Fudge majestically trotted in, ridden by Amelia …. Fudge was a pony that was in a very desperate state (pending being put to sleep) before his rescue. Now Fudge trotted around looking very content and happy with his new life.
The finale was the entrance of Caistor Equestrian Centre’s “Pony Club” members. All 32 children entered the arena on beautifully turned out ponies and horses.
The whole event was quite a spectacle and finished off with an account from Nicola Wilson of her initial days with ponies at her local Pony Club Branch and how through hard work, perseverance and commitment – riding the highs with the lows – right through to being picked for the GB Olympic Team in London.
The pageant successfully raised £2101towards a very good cause, “Jill’s Wheels” where a specialist wheelchair has been purchased for Jill after a riding accident. The wheel chair has made such a difference to the quality of Jill’s life. Natalie Allsopp (Jill’s daughter) and her grandchildren, were presented with flowers by Nicola on behalf of Mr and Mrs Lintin, the owners of Caistor Equestrian Centre.