Being a part of the exchange program with Hartpury College in England has been an amazing experience so far. By far, the thing that has made the biggest impression on me so far is the Hartpury Equine Yard. Home to 230 horses, 50 of which are school horses, and the remainder student-owned horses on DIY livery, the facility is world class and contains much more than just barns and riding arenas. There is a virtual tour of all of Hartpury’s facilities located here, but I’m going to present a tour of the Hartpury Equine Yard and the impressive facilities enclosed within its’ gates!
The entrance to the Hartpury Equine Yard leads into the main courtyard. Signs on the side of the main office declare its’ status as a British Horse Society approved Training Facility, Riding Facility, and Livery Yard. The main office, whose entrance is around the corner, is the check-in point for all yard activities. FE students report for stable duties, similar to our practicum students, while riders check-in and are assigned a horse to ride. The area around the main office is always buzzing with activity: yard managers and technicians working and attending to students’ questions and concerns, students hosing and washing their horses, farriers trimming and shoeing a multitude of horses, lecturers conducting seminars in the yard classroom, and more!
The main office opens into the courtyard which is lined by stables that make up the Front Yard block. These stables house some of the school horses used for FE and HE riding classes. There are also storage areas that house pitchforks, wheelbarrows, brooms, and skip buckets that are used to tidy the yard during chores throughout the day.
The brown doors along the side of the main Front Yard stable lead into a classroom that is utilized for practical, hands-on seminars held on the yard. There is a large whiteboard, three open stock stalls, and even a pony-sized, moveable horse sculpture. Lecturers are able to bring school horses into the classroom and the size enables a group of twenty or more students to fit comfortably into the room.
From the main courtyard, an aisle way leads left and right. To the left is A Barn and B Barn, both of which house the remainder of the school horses used for FE and HE riding classes. To the right, beginning with C Barn, are livery stables for student-owned horses. All aisle ways are lined with rubber mats to prevent slippage, and drains are strategically placed along the walkways so reduce the amount of water throughout the yard.
To the left, across from the entrance to B Barn, is the B Barn and Front Yard tack room and the rug room, which houses the assortment of blankets available for each school horse. A Barn has a separate tack room located in the middle of the aisle way. Each tack room has a list of the horses, their stall number, and any leg equipment that they wear for flatwork and jumping, respectively. Each horse as their own bridle hook, as well as a complete set of tack and a grooming kit. The only shared equipment is front and hind boots and lunging equipment.
The rug room contains shelves for each of the school horses and all blankets that are not currently being worn by the horse and stored there. Each shelf has a card with the photo and name of the horse as well as the different types of blankets and their colors. This ensures that there are no blanket mix-up’s, and that stored blankets are kept clean and dry.
To the right, past C-E Barn and a hay and bedding storage area, is the first horse walker and indoor rings 1-3. Students use the horse walker for their own horses on an as-needed basis. Riding classes are held in indoor rings 1-2, while indoor 3 is utilized by the Equine Therapy Centre.
Beyond the horse walker are paths to Hartpury Arena, three outdoor arenas, and the hacking path that loops around campus. Hartpury Arena is a large, heated indoor arena with seating for 600. There is an attached covered warm-up arena, Hartpury Holding, connected through a short tunnel. Not only does Hartpury Arena house an indoor, but also 12 classrooms that overlook the arena, a dining area that is open for breakfast and lunch throughout the week, and a food court in the seating area of the main arena.
Outside of Hartpury Arena is a huge outdoor arena and a smaller outdoor school behind the main building. Walking down the birch tree lined path to the EQ classrooms, it is difficult to peel your eyes away from the various riders schooling their horses on the flat and over fences.
Competitions are held weekly in Hartpury Arena with free admission that allows for hours of excitement, watching countless riders tackle difficult jumping courses and various levels of dressage tests.
Beyond the main Equine Yard is the Equine Therapy Centre. This center houses up to eight horses at a time who receive multiple treatments per day for various injuries and rehabilitation programs. The therapy center is an invaluable addition to the main equine yard that allows Hartpury to be the world-class facility that it is. The therapy center boasts a high speed treadmill, an aqua treadmill, a solarium, weigh bridge, veterinary facilities including an examination room with stocks, and a trot up and trot circle for lameness examinations and jogs for competitions.
These facilities are available for use by horses in the therapy center, student-owned horses, and outside clients by appointment. Upwards of fifteen horses may frequent the therapy center in a day, including some world class athletes such as Valegro, a world champion dressage horse.
Additionally, there is a Rider Performance Clinic within the therapy center for riders struggling with physical barriers to their riding and those wanting to maximize their performance. The performance clinic consists of a strength/cardio gym and other facilities, including a riding simulator. I’ve heard that a new riding simulator is coming in April that not only walks, trots, and canters, but can also simulate jumping!
Overall, the Hartpury Equine Yard is very impressive, both in size and facilities. It is amazing to be a part of these world class facilities, things that we don’t have access to at DelVal. I can’t wait to take advantage of the wide variety of opportunities here to gain knowledge and experience by volunteering, taking part in clinics, lectures, and other activities that are offered.