School Travel Organiser takes a look at what a typical Equestrian Activity Day in Suffolk involves, and how a school visit can link to PE.
Itinerary: Equestrian Activity Day
Provider: Valley Farm Equestrian Leisure, Woodbridge, Suffolk
Key Stage: 1 & 2
Valley Farm is a British Horse Society riding centre set in the heart of beautiful Suffolk countryside, and incorporates the country’s only Camargue horse stud and visitor centre which showcases the famous white horse from the Rhone delta in southern France.
During term times the farm runs activity days for school groups of eight to 32 children. Nearby schools travel by coach for the day, or part of the day, and others can make use of the onsite camping facilities and stay overnight.
The centre is also home to a variety of other creatures, including a camel, goats and alpacas, and will provide an unforgettable experience for animal-loving pupils. The centre caters for all levels of rider; beginner, intermediate, disabled and experienced, and can cover many equestrian disciplines.
9am: Arrive and introduction to the day. Pupils are fitted with hats and boots, if required. They are then taken on a tour of the stable yard and given a safety talk. The activity days are based on the principles of the Pony Club, which are to encourage young people to ride and enjoy all kinds of sport connected with horses, provide instruction in riding and horsemanship and the proper care of animals and to promote sportsmanship, citizenship and loyalty.
9.15am: Each pupil is allocated a suitable pony and there is a supervised grooming session followed by tacking up for the activities of the day.
10am: Pupils head out to one of the riding schools for a riding lesson.
11am: Return the ponies to the stables and take a break. Soft drinks are provided, but pupils may wish to bring a little money for the vending machines.
11:30am: Riding activity. A host of exciting options are available including Western riding, side-saddle, gymkhana games, polocrosse (a combination of polo and lacrosse), horseball (where the ball is handled and passed between players) and vaulting.
The latter involves children performing various gymnastic movements on the horse, including sitting backwards, kneeling or even doing handstands and flips. A sport in its own right, it is a fun way to improve balance and confidence in riding.
12:30pm: Return the ponies to the stables and, if time, play games or take part in a quiz.
1pm: Lunch in the Camargue Cafe. Pupils and teachers can choose a meal from the menu when they arrive in the morning.
2pm: A pony care activity is organised that is selected from the Pony Club syllabus and appropriate to the age and experience of the group. Subjects covered included feeding and equine anatomy.
3pm: Another one-hour riding activity.
4pm: Pupils say farewell to the ponies and depart, or overnight camping.