ONE of the most outstanding equestrian locations in the South East is Coombelands Equestrian at Pulborough, run by Gaye Harwood. Gaye has ensured that facilities she offers for riders on the Coombelands estate have kept pace with competitive needs by adding to the long standing cross country schooling course with other facilities over the years.
Not only are there more than 100 fences, ranging from 2ft to 3ft 6ins to cater for all standards, open for most of the year, but there are show jumping, schooling facilities, dressage arenas on grass, and all weather gallops also available for hire.
Recent investment has brought an all weather warm up arena to add to a main all-weather arena installed three years ago- and all facilities have stunning views across downland to the Sussex coast.
“I’ve had the main arena for three years now and in the last couple of years it has been used for well-supported clear round jumping and show jumping events. But I want to introduce unaffiliated competitions too next year, to cater for other riders. Unaffiliated events will encourage some riders back into competition, who would be overfaced by having to compete in affiliated events after being out of competitions for a period,” Gaye explained.
The warm-up arena has been a huge attraction, and Gaye also provides a ‘play-pen facility’ for very young riders coming off the lead rein, where they can also learn to go up and down small banks in a safe environment.
“British Equestrian Federation event riders like to jump on all-weather surfaces and we held an event for them each month last year. There are a number of One Day Events, Hunter trials and clinics which are held throughout the year, as well as a British Eventing Horse Trials with classes from BE80 to Novice Standard in October. Clear Round jumping is always popular and brings out riders who have not competed for a while and want to see if they can get round,” said Gaye.
In a recent BE event, Southerly Roberts had an outstanding day, winning with Canny Shannondale Z in the first section of the 90cm. Riding Tinx, she finished second in the 100 and won the second section of the 90cm, while Fizz IV was third in the second part of the 90cm.
Gaye added: “Horsham and District Riding Club has been using facilities here for a long time and has had a hunter trial one-day-event organised by Carol Porter for a number of years. We also welcome pony club events and one day events and now have a main showing show here which has moved from Eastlands. One of my main objectives is providing events for youngsters-pony clubs do so much. I am running Junior BEF shows- I had one last year and have four for this year.”
Gaye has five nephews and nieces who all love show jumping- children of her sisters, trainer Amanda Perrett whose racing yard is based at Coombelands, and Lucinda Crowley, whose husband Jim is a Flat jockey. “I know at first hand what type of things they want and enjoy,” she said. Gaye also encourages pony clubs to enjoy the facilities, and one club recently travelled from the Isle of Wight to enjoy a competition day in one of the arenas.
She has also held hunter trials in the past to cater for those who who did not want to do show jumping. There is a UK chasers course around the farm, which at 2,800 metres is the longest novice course for BE eventing and includes a section of the grass gallops. Horsham District Riding Club holds a hunter trial and team chase event there and top event riders including Tina Cook and Pippa Funnell use it to prepare their horses for an event.
Gaye has a horse of her own 14.2hh horse Jimmy (11), a Connemara, who took part in his first show at Sands Farm, Warnham recently and will be tackling a few unaffiliated events for fun.
Coombelands Equestrian also has a range of top clinics coming up, hunter trials and wide range of competitions. For details see www.coombelands-equestrian.co.uk/events