The Pilot Group of riders

Song - ground tied on Dartmoor.WES News Issue 66 included an article asking for volunteers to be part of the WRDP pilot scheme.  Within hours of it being published we started to receive a surprising number of e-mails.  In fact we were a bit taken aback at the level of interest and the fantastic comments from people across the country, all offering to take part.  It seemed that western riders had been hoping for something like this for a long time! We were really grateful to all those who expressed interest and, although we could only take a limited number of members onto the pilot scheme, we really believe that the programme will benefit many riders over the coming years.

We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce the pilot riders who blazed the trail by working their way towards the first two levels of the Programme. In the coming months keep an eye out for the WRDP Roll of Honour, where we'll provide updates on their continuing successes as they progress to the higher Levels. 

Anne Howkins Mackay lives on a small-holding in Pembrokeshire and became ‘hooked’ on western riding after a ranch holiday in Canada seven years ago.  Anne has ridden since she was a small child and has enjoyed competing in a variety of disciplines including eventing and dressage.  She loves training horses and obviously gets a buzz from all her efforts spent improving her and her horses' skills and going on to do well in the show pen. Anne started her competitive career with support from WES Approved Instructor Thea Lloyd. Anne is also a WES County Representative within Area 6 (Wales). Her ambition for 2011 was to qualify for the WES Championship Trail class at the National Show. She not only achieved that, but also passed Levels 1 and 2 of the Programme!

Maxine Granger is from the far north of England and was introduced to western by John and Tricia Dodds.  Having totally fallen in love with quarter horses and western riding Maxine bought a young quarter horse gelding 'Doc'. Doc was sent to Bruce Lawrence (WES Approved Instructor) for starting, and has continued his education under his watchful eye.  Regular face to face instruction is a challenge!  Nevertheless, Maxine is thoroughly enjoying learning, supported by those around her who she describes as ‘such a great community of experienced western and open minded English riders’.  Maxine looked forward to the WRDP helping to give her a structured programme of training that she and ‘Doc’ could benefit from. Maxine passed Level 1 of the Programme!

Helena Ryan is from Ireland and four years ago set off down the road of converting an ex racehorse into a trained western riding mount.  Helena is passionate about western and natural horsemanship techniques and has already invested time and effort in her riding career, several times travelling to the UK to watch and talk to like-minded people.  In 2010 Helena arranged a western clinic with Thea Lloyd which she attended with her horse 'Cash', and also encouraged others to come along to find out more about western riding and training methods. She wanted the WRDP to help her to become a competent trail class competitor as well as being able to take those skills out into the ‘real world of trail riding’. Since joining the Pilot group Helena has been successful at her first western show (and is planning her second). She has also taken her skills out onto the trail, and has passed Level 1 with flying colours. She continues to enjoy support from Thea, who has developed a penchant for international travel!  

Carol Newman-Wing is from the south east of England. Carol rode a huge variety of ponies as a child, often helping out at riding stables in return for rides.  As an adult Carol purchased her own mare who successfully progressed to affiliated show jumping before breeding a foal. Carol then trained this horse in Trec competition winning the English National Championships in 2004.  Whilst competing in Trec Carol met her good friend and 'inspiration' Di Skippon, who introduced her to quarter horses. This was when Carol began to develop her interest in western riding.  In 2008 Carol purchased ‘Winni’ from WES Approved Instructor and judge Bob Mayhew.  Whenever time allows, Carol has lessons with WES Approved Instructor Michael Langford at Wye Oak. Whilst her goals are to compete successfully in both WES and AQHA shows, the small matter of a wedding got in the way - but she made sure she passed her Level 1 assessment before the big day!

Sarah Vermont is from the north west of England. Sarah started riding from a very tender age and by her own admission ‘lives, eats and breathes horses’.  She was an active pony clubber who competed successfully in eventing before university got in the way!  However, even whilst studying Sarah was never far away from horses and represented GB on the student rider squad in Nations Cups in France, Germany and Ireland.  The western bug bit during a riding holiday in Montana in 2005 which ended in her buying a weanling on the last day there!  Sarah now has four quarter horses and is thoroughly converted to the western way of training and riding.  She will continue to attend clinics as and when possible and believes that the WRDP has helped with all her schooling and showing. Sarah passed Levels 1 and 2 of the Programme.

Lucy Turmaine is from Devon in the south west of England and is our ‘face to face’ pilot member.  Lucy has ridden all her life, and has been involved in breeding Highland Ponies for many years. It was on home-bred Highland Pony 'Sophie' that Lucy first became interested in western riding, and competed very successfully at local shows. This led to an interest in American Breeds, and Lucy is currently riding and training an appaloosa mare 'Indy' who she bought as a weanling from Tober Appaloosas in Cornwall.  She is using the programme to give her a progressive training framework with which to produce her young horse. Lucy still owns 2 Highlands, one of which has competed successfully in western with Lucy's daughter Emily (also a WES member). Lucy was our first candidate to pass her Level 1 assessment.

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