PICTURE GALLERY: Olympic medallist comes to Lavant

THE DESIRE for children and adults to take to the saddle saw an Olympic medallist come to Lavant House Stables.

Tina Cook, the silver medal-winning equestrian from London 2012, was launching an Olympic legacy project entitled Take Back The Reins.

Olympic medalist Tina Cook showing her medals to riders and helpers at Lavant House Stables. Picture by Kate Shemilt. C140236-4

Olympic medalist Tina Cook showing her medals to riders and helpers at Lavant House Stables. Picture by Kate Shemilt. C140236-4

“It’s an opportunity for people to come and try it out. You can come here and have a horse lesson. It’s as safe as it can possibly be,” she said at the launch.

Riding in the brilliant sunshine on February 22 was ten-year-old Olivia Bailey, who has been coming to the stables for around 15 months.

Her dad David said: “It’s been brilliant actually because she’s a bit shy, but it’s given her a lot of confidence in other areas,” adding: “I think it teaches her you need to work hard at things and look after things – pretty basic stuff actually which is quite transferable.”

The Olympic legacy project aims to show that horse-riding is something anyone can consider and certainly is not the preserve of the wealthy.

“It’s very affordable to come here,” said Tina, adding it was no longer a ‘rich person’s sport’.

“It’s a sport you can do throughout your career compared to gymnastics or something else,” she said. “What’s so brilliant about yards like here is that it’s set up for families that don’t have their own facilities and giving children an opportunity to decide if this is a career path.”

She said as well as riding, there was a huge range of jobs available in the equestrian field, everything from becoming a vet to running stables. It all started from people having a passion to work with horses.

Mum Jacqui King said her ten-year-old son Dylan loved coming to the stables.

“He’d live here if I let him,” she said, adding: “It gets him out of the house and keeps him fit. I would rather they were out here in all weathers than sitting in front of an X-Box.”

The aim of the project is to provide structured and cost-effective riding opportunities for adults who used to ride who want to learn in 2014, or children keen to start.

Tina proved a popular visitor on Saturday, with children and parents keen to have a picture taken with her and have a closer look at her Olympic medals.

British Horse Society instructor Amanda Kruger, the general manager, said the launch had been a success.

“I’m pleased with it and it’s been a nice day and the kids are really enjoying it. Having Tina here is a nice buzz for them,” she said.

Take Back The Reins is the national project launched by Hoof, which is the British Equestrian Federation’s Olympic and Paralympic legacy campaign, aiming to encourage more people to take up horse riding, driving, vaulting and volunteering.

Visit www.hoofride.co.uk and lhstables.co.uk for more information.