Riding has been an important part of Mayfield School life for over twenty years, but following the recent upgrade of on-site facilities, the school is now able to offer even more training and opportunities to riders of all levels.
The yard, situated less than a minute’s walk from the main school building and a stone’s throw from the sports fields, is home to around 30 horses at any one time. The majority of the horses belong to pupils, but girls can also either loan or share a pony during term time.
Mayfield students have an outstanding record of performance in equestrian competitions at school, national and international level, and driving this success is Jill Barker BEd, BHSII J, CertEd, Director of Riding. Jill believes if you can create a passion, whether it is riding, ceramics, art or music, it helps to motivate and inspire your academic life.
Jill says: “We are an academic school that offers the opportunity to ride at the highest level. Our results in producing successful riders who have gone on to pursue successful careers speak for themselves. The girls learn to manage their time in order to fit in everything that they want to do. Many of our riders are also involved in sports teams, drama productions and music. Once you inspire pupils, they are able to motivate themselves and opportunities open up to them.”
The two stable blocks are set around a courtyard and joined in the middle by a covered wash bay. The updated facilities include both an indoor outdoor arena. The school has a professionally built cross country course, as well as off-road hacking.
Former pupils Emily Baldwin and Emily Llewellyn have both continued in the sport of eventing, competing at Badminton and Burghley as well as on Senior Nations Cup teams. After time away establishing herself as a top international rider, Emily is actively involved in training and educating the girls. While she mainly teaches the elite level riders, she also gives practical lessons in subjects such as the use of ice, physio stretches and how to trot up a horse.
One of the school’s sixth formers, Immie Long qualified her horse, Foxdon Half Pint for the Badminton Grassroots Final in both 2014 and 2015. On both occasions Jill took a small group of pupils with her for the day to cheer and support Immie, as well as giving them the opportunity to learn about eventing at a higher level.
Not everyone who rides at Mayfield will want to compete – many are happy to enjoy the extensive hacking and tuition available to them. Jill hopes that they aim to be as good as they can, whatever level they are riding at. She says: “We thrive on coaching each individual to reach and often exceed her unique potential, and the secret of our success undoubtedly lies in a carefully balanced combination of expert tuition, and our exceptional support system and team spirit. Under the guidance of our specialist staff, the girls encourage and support one another as they challenge themselves and grow in confidence and competence, often surpassing their own expectations.
We delight in watching our girls develop their ability, self-esteem and self-belief, and become mature, well-rounded and skilled young riders.”