Heritage 2020-05-11T14:51:20+00:00

Harrogate Riding Centre – Our Heritage

The Harrogate Riding Centre was established in the 1960’s by British Horse Society (BHS) Fellow Major John Birtwistle and his wife Jennifer (BHS Senior Instructor and chief examiner).

Major John Birtwistle had huge successes in many equestrian disciplines, a true all-round horseman with a great wealth of knowledge. During his time in the British Army he was in charge of over 30,000 horses and mules, and organised supplies to the front and helped evacuate the injured. Mentioned in dispatches he saw service in North Africa, Italy and Normandy during World War II. At the end of the war John Birtwistle returned to his family business in Lancashire but his love of horses prevailed and he decided to set up his own Equestrian centre in Gisburn, following the success of this business he expanded and relocated to Harrogate, creating the Harrogate Equestrian Centre, which he ran until his retirement in 1997.

John competed successfully in Point to Points, National Hunt Racing, Eventing, Dressage and Show Jumping. He completed Badminton on several occasions and was placed at the country’s top events such as Burghley, Windsor, Bramham and Gatcome.

Jennifer originated from the Isle of Man and was running the very successful Manx Equestrian Centre on the Island when she met John, she continued to run the Islands most successful riding and trekking centre alongside helping John to manage the Harrogate Equestrian Centre. Jennifer is still a very active director here at the centre and thoroughly enjoys sharing her knowledge and wisdom with all her pupils.

Throughout the 70’s and 80’s the centre was at the forefront of equestrian activity and a major innovator in the industry holding Advanced Horse Trials, Show Jumping and Dressage competitions including qualifiers for the Royal International Horse Show and Horse of The Year Show. It was also the training ground for many top international and national riders. The Harrogate Riding Centre was also a British Horse Society training centre and helped to produce some of the country’s finest Instructors, many of whom have now established their own centres around the World.

Over the years the centre has diversified from being a higher education training establishment to an International Riding and Language School. The level of tuition and knowledge is second to none and the centre continues to train horse and rider to International competition standard.

Over recent years there has been substantial investment in facilities and the riding centre now has some of the best competition arenas and facilities in the country. Riders who come to enjoy the fabulous facilities at the centre can be rest assured that the centre is constantly striving to improve and progress to be an industry leader.

You can read more about Major John Birtwistle by following this link.

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