Kelsall Hill Equestrian Centre has been a work in progress since 2004 when the farm ride was established which was our first diversification into the equine world. The farm ride needed a lot of work doing to create the tracks around the farm boundary and we created a route that is in the region of 6-6.5 miles and involves no roads or crossings.
In addition to that we started our transition away from being a 500 cow dairy herd unit towards something else. The farm still rears cattle for our dairy farm on Lord Cholmondeley’s estate where we have 500 pedigree Brown Swiss dairy cows, you’ll see our heifers grazing for most of the year if you’re doing the farm ride. The race was on to convert buildings as required either for storage or for equestrian use.
Since 2004 we have sought to be customer led so our next development was to undertake to run British Eventing Affiliated Horse Trials.
Events need grass surfaces to run on and grass keeps on growing so we soon had an abundance of it. We harvest the grass between our events for horse haylage or silage depending on the season and we can sell bales in 5’, 3’ and 20kg packs.
The early changes meant creating some outdoor arena provision and converting cattle housing to stabling. This conversion process came to an end in 2021 with the last of the cattle housing coming down, there are a few of the original buildings that we’re still in control of but everything else is now converted to either business units or equestrian activities.
As we grew our competence with the horse trials we decided to dedicate the course to competition use so in 2010 we developed our cross country schooling area. The field was developed using mainly portable fences linking to permanent questions so that riders could train all year round. We have avoided using permanent take offs and landings to try to ensure that take offs are never too hard or baked in the sun and we move the jumps around and repair where they were so the field continues to evolve and change. We now only allow schooling over the horse trials courses for 12 days after each event.
As well as the cross-country course we also decided to add a 4.5 furlong (900m) all weather gallop so that local riders and liveries could keep their horses fit despite the weather.
With plenty of summer riding options and some winter provision we found ourselves limited by our hard standing capacity and our exposure in winter to the elements so we decided that our next step was to address these. We decided that we’d convert what was a redundant silage yard, manure standing, slurry lagoon and machinery yard to hard standing and an indoor school with warm up sufficiently sized to ensure riders had enough space, plenty of light and with great footing.
To get the water off the site quicker we added some extra ponds into what was a dry valley. These allow us to buffer the surplus rain water with plenty of storage so that we can release the water at a speed to match the existing drainage. The ponds have created a great new environment for plants, herons, cormorants and kingfishers, keep an eye out when you’re out an about, we’ve even seen grass snakes by them!!
Who knows what’s next, the new building project by our entrance will include some more stables and after that there’s bound to be something that’s needed. Let us know……………….