The centre is a Pony Club Centre and is one of the largest in the UK offering every aspect of Pony Club membership to young people up to the age of 21.
MUMMY’S GIN FUND SAYS:
I have been to a few riding stables in my time but this seems to be the crème de la crème! It is a big establishment and a very well oiled machine in terms of how it is organised. You check in at the office and wait for your class in the viewing gallery, which overlooks an enormous indoor arena. When your lesson is starting, someone from the office uses a microphone, which comes through on speakers so that everyone knows the lesson time, instructor and the names of the ponies and horses needed.
In the indoor arena, several lessons can take place at the same time on a Saturday morning, however, it is that big that nobody gets in anyone’s way. There is also another indoor arena, not as big, where the more experienced riders seem to go for their lessons and where they can do jumping too.
There seem to be lots of young people who are paid helpers. The instructors for my daughter, who is beginner level, were aged 16 (we have been twice on a Saturday). One tip I received was that you shouldn’t book a Saturday afternoon lesson as this is when it is busiest with lessons as well as birthday parties. When the parties are on it can be difficult for children to hear their particular instructor and to concentrate on what is happening in their lesson – it sounds like the indoor arena can become a lot more manic.
The rather excellent advantage that this place has is that it has so much to offer. In the school holidays my daughter did a pony week which started at 9.45 and finished at 3.45. For £35 a day including lunch (my daughter had chips most days so don’t expect a Jamie Oliver healthy meal award here – at least it wasn’t a horse hair sandwich! ;-)) she got to ride ponies twice a day (never the same pony twice either because there are so many of them) and she did some stable management, e.g. learning how to groom, feed a horse and every day there were fun games for the group and a tractor ride around the field.
More serious horse men and women can join the Pony Club, who have their own separate sessions so that the youngsters can work towards their Pony Club test awards. On August bank holiday there was a big horse show hosted by the stables. In addition to this, over the summer holidays there was a large programme of activities for horse owners and non-horse owners – all for a price.
My daughter loved this place. If you want a small yard then this is not for you.
Address: Mount Mascal Stables, Vicarage Road, Bexley, Kent DA5 2AW.
Cafe: There is a club room, which offers hot and cold menu options and is fully licensed.
Pram / wheelchair / mobility friendly: Yes with access to the indoor arena where it would be easy for any disabled riders to mount their horse.
Parking: Yes, free and on site.
Nearest station: 20 -25 mins walk from Bexley station.
Phone: 020 8300 3947.
Established in 1966 by the Window family who continue to own and run the business.
Open seven days a week throughout the year, except Christmas & Boxing Day when there are no riding school lessons.
They cater for adults and children from 4 years upwards, including people with special needs. First time riders receive a warm welcome at Mount Mascal Stables. Before you ride, the stables need to know your height and weight and you must complete a client assessment form. When you arrive for your first session report to reception. They will provide and fit your safety head gear and introduce you to your instructor. You will not need any specialist equipment or clothing but it is important to be suitably attired in long trousers, a long sleeved top and flat footwear with a small heel. Your instructor will introduce you to your horse and take things from there.
The centre is a Pony Club Centre and is one of the largest in the UK offering every aspect of Pony Club membership to young people up to the age of 21. Pony Club Centres provide children, who don’t own a pony, the fantastic chance to achieve badges and tests on a variety of subjects both equestrian and non-equestrian.
This centre offers lessons, hacking, parties, children’s fun days, own a pony day, training and courses.
Costs for children:
Group lessons (consist of approx. eight in a range of abilities) for 1/2 hour = £20
Private lessons (one to one with a horse of your choice) for 50 mins = £28
Review by Catherine Allum