My Review of 2019 – by Lisa Gregory

At this time of the year I enjoy looking back at the past 12 months, and I am always full of anticipation for the 12 months ahead. But this time there is extra excitement because the new decade brings with it a very special event.

The year 2020 is our silver anniversary here at the trekking centre – it’s 25 years since I first opened my gates to clients. The anniversary falls on June 20th – which is also my daughter Georgia’s 18th birthday – so, as you can imagine, I am planning a major celebration. At the moment I am thinking in terms of a big open day to showcase all that we do here. I will keep you all up to date with my plans.

2019 highlights

But back to 2019. It was a relief to me to be back to normal after the testing conditions of the previous year. As you all know, 2018 was a year of blizzards and drought, so I was delighted to return to typical British weather, which meant we could stay open and continue to enjoy our trekking.

We have enjoyed some fabulous days. I reinstated our popular pub rides and they have proved a great favourite, and we were lucky enough to have fabulous weather each time we did an evening Indian ride. Those summer evenings were very special, and I think in 2020 we will do a mixture of Indian nights, pub rides and supper at the Ranch Bistro.

Our Longdon two-day trail ride took place in the hottest weather of the summer, but our horses were fine as we took them on a route through shady woods on the way to our lovely accommodation, and I am sure this will be a popular feature again. I think we will also make this available as a private booking if a few friends want to get together.

I am looking at resuming our Wales trips, and my partner Mark and I are looking at possible venues where we can enjoy the best of the beach and mountain scenery.

Of course, the annual Sheriff Of Lichfield traditional beating the bounds ride in September is a highlight of our year, and this time we took our biggest ever number of horses. It was a great success and our two prep days involved lots of fun, laughter, hard work and cake!

Our treks and lessons are always busy and our instructors, Karen and Lucy, have been working hard, especially as we have introduced some very popular clinics. Now we have saddleless riding, polework, cross country, Western riding and barrel racing.

We have had three fantastic evening events in our bistro: two Wild West themed ranch party nights in the summer, with food, drinks and a live band; and our first ever Christmas party. I think everyone at the ranch parties really enjoyed our Western riding display in the arena. I was so proud of my girls and all the horses. They put on a fabulous show and the response from the audience prompted us to introduce barrel racing as an activity.

We enjoyed our first Game Of Thrones themed ride and that is another idea we think we will develop. We are looking forward to doing it bigger and better in 2020.

Hellos and goodbyes

On the staff front, we said a sad goodbye to trek leader Mell Newton, and wish her well in her new job. And we welcomed one of our weekend staff, Ellie Jones, to our full-time team on a new apprenticeship.

We also said farewell to three of our horses. Tia, Lady and Georgie all went off to five-star private homes, while we said hello to our beautiful Friesian boy Oberon.

For me 2019 was the year of the babies. I knew I would be busy with four to train: Nymeria, the sister of my PRE Andalusian trek leader Pele; and three home breds, Arizona, Indiana and Montana. It was hugely rewarding, as all four have exceeded my expectations. Nymeria was the most challenging, but it’s been a great learning curve. She, Arizona and Indiana are all regularly out on on the treks with clients, and Montana, the youngest of the four, has just started to join them.

The last of my home breds is Colorado, and I may do a little work and lightly back him in 2020. I usually wait until they are four, and he is three, but he is a big, bold and confident boy, and I think it will do him good.

In the bistro we have a new chef, and we are receiving inquiries about weddings, christenings and kids’ proms. And the success of the party nights we have held so far has made us start thinking about other evening events.

Here’s to the next 12 months!

We go into 2020 looking forward to another 12 months of great riding, lots of fun and a warm welcome to all of our guests.

But the highlight is going to be our anniversary. As you all saw this summer, we know how to throw a party here and this will be a special one!

Exciting times ahead!