Let us start by dusting off the blog. One cannot deny it has been a tough time for all equestrian centres up and down the country. 2020 proved to be a testing year for us at Traigh Mhor as we adapted to the ever changing and often confusing COVID restrictions, levels, tiers, legislation and so forth. We had however, a very fruitful extended summer season. This in turn helped us through a COVID winter.
One thing that did become apparent last summer was that our demand was far greater than anything we could ever hoped to accommodate on the croft at 41 and if we wanted to meet that demand we would need better and bigger customer facilities. It was always our longer term plan to move from the middle of the village, this plan got a push when we realised in August that we had not got the correct permission to operate from our current site. Needing to place an application for permission anyway, we decided that it would be better to move premises so that we could expand the business at the same time.
The family sat down at Christmas to discuss what we needed to think about when submitting the plans. The layout, the arena and parking, who needed to be contacted and what needed to be arranged. We submitted our application in January and were given permission in the last week of March 2021 (the day of Oakie Doodles birthday).
The new site will improve on our oThere will be a shelterbelt of native and non-native trees and we will be off grid and so tick all the sustainability boxes. The arena will be twice the size it is now (20m x40m) which means we can hold proper dressage and showjumping days. Lessons in a canter will no longer be in a tight circle either!
We always talk of that beach, well that beach is now much closer than before which means we can take out shorter beach rides from the centre. The tack room is the old byre which over the past few months has been transformed with a good clean out, a lick of paint and a lots of storage and hanging space for the tack and equipment. We will have parking for 10 cars with a separate entrance for horses. The yard will be larger than the old yard and more square so easier to tie horses up. Finally, the new site has a fantastic view to the north which will slowly be framed by the trees we are going to plant.
We successfully secured public funding for part of the project and began to watch as individual challenges and hurdles safely negotiated. Soon work starts on preparing the site. Soon we will be taking down the chalet and moving it to number 15 as the reception building. Even the spectator hut has a pride of place to at the arena edge. We have 7 new pairs of jump wings waiting to go into our arena too made very kindly by a family friend for us.
For me, this has never been about the money. It is about bringing something to our local economy. Jobs, career starts and hope for young people. It is about training and education. It is about health and wellbeing. That has always been the aim of Traigh Mhor Pony Trekking and continues to be so.
So our challenges have brought us many things, they have brought friends and family closer, we have got to know some incredible people. They (the challenges - not the people!) have brought tears and they have brought hope. Last years challenges were actually blessings in disguise.