RAF Halton Saddle Club Reopens after Refurbishment

The Saddle Club at RAF Halton has marked its official reopening by holding an Easter Party which was attended by the Station Commander, Group Captain Adrian Burns. RAF Halton families were welcomed to the event where activities revolving around the horses were open to all the guests. The children were particularly enthusiastic and helped with horse grooming and feeding to give them an idea of how horses need to be cared, they also took part in a quiz and Easter egg hunt around the yard.

The club has recently undergone a refurbishment after been closed for a period of time but now has a new ménage, club room, feed store, tack room and even a heated rug store.

There has been a saddle club at RAF Halton for over 30 years and the yard has been in use from the days of Alfred Rothschild. In recent years it has provided the opportunity for not only military personnel and their families, but civilian families from the local area and the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) who were long standing users of the facility until October 2012.

Over the last few months some members of the committee have spent many hours of their own time working hard, painting, weeding, chopping, sawing, replacing fence rails and generally tidying up the yard for the arrival of new horses. The previous ménage was over 30 years old and the drainage system did not function correctly, meaning the arena was constantly flooding and one side of the arena was subsiding so not safe for riding. The Club was awarded a grant from central funds and refurbishment work started in November 2014.

When the stables were originally built in the 1880’s, they did in fact stable zebras and were also used as a housing area for the servants who worked in Halton house, which would explain the buildings in the middle having rooms and an old stove.Lionel Walter Rothschild was well known for training zebras to pull coaches and famously drove a carriage and zebras into the grounds of Buckingham Palace!

During WWI the army were based here and soldiers were trained in trench warfare at what was then known as Halton Camp, during this time the stables were used as accommodation for soldiers transiting through.

In WWII the stables area was used as a Motor Transport yard providing transport for the various officers based here; drivers were able to stay in the stables to allow access to vehicles at all times day or night.

Officer in charge of the Saddle Club, Flt Lt Claire Crichton, said: “There is still a lot of work to do in and around the yard and out in the paddocks, however, the committee are extremely excited about the future.

We have sourced a stable hand / riding instructor for the yard who will work for 6 hours per week (this will be built up slowly as required), to offer lessons and co-ordinate the horses for use in the day to day function of the yard. In the near future we are expecting more horses and ponies, two or three of which should be here by May or June.”

“The committee has lots of plans for the future however, we appreciate that we must do things slowly and ensure we get the right people and horses onto the yard in order to offer activities back to the Station. Future intentions for the club are lessons and hacks, summer activities, equestrian courses and pony club membership so individuals can gain various badges, and of course we would like to share the RAF Equestrian Home for Sport events at some point in the future as the yard is showing real potential.”