Jakki has been teaching children and adults to ride for 55 years.
She began her riding career as a youngster at a large London Equestrian Centre, where she was an enthusiastic member of the North West Kent branch of the Pony Club and a member of their event team. It was here that she also had the opportunity to ride some lovely show ponies in the ring. This probably nurtured her love of ponies, especially those native to the British Isles. Indeed she has bred Highland ponies, at one time owning nine Highlands.
It was while she was here that she and some friends visited Wembley to watch the first performance of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna in the UK. This stimulated her lifelong passion with Classical Equitation, which is the ethos of Beechwood Riding School to this day.
She achieved her Pony Club B test at 14 years old which whetted her appetite for qualifications and she took the exams in teaching, riding and training horses as well as the National Pony Stud diploma, which led her to a large Devon Stud where she had ‘hands on’ experience with mares, foals and young stock – breaking and training horses under the tutelage of Mrs V M Hurst - a very strict famous dressage rider, Following her training with Mrs Hurst, she returned to Tatsfield and started up Beechwood Riding School where she encoiuraged many children (and adults) from Tatsfield and Biggin Hill to ride.
As with most young people, Jakki had a desire to travel and work abroad. Her then boyfriend, now lifelong partner, had been brought up in SouthAfrica – the land of sunshine and opportunity, with those tempting wild life reserves. Her love of training young horses and young riders soon found her a position in a large riding school owned by an American couple. While in South Africa she visited the Spanish Horses of Kyalami, who were descendants of the Spanish horses from Vienna when they were evacuated during World War II.
During her time in South Africa she inspired young riders and not-so-young riders to improve their riding, and to participate in show jumping and equitation classes at the riding school, as well as encouraging them to engage in other equestrian activities.
Returning to the UK in 1977 she re-started Beechwood Riding School in Tatsfield, with one pony, to which more were soon added. Again, the Pony Club magnetism worked and she was nominated as a committee member of the newly formed Kent Border Pony Club, as well as being a team coach for the Prince Philip Mounted Games team. The team of four was made up of four Beechwood ponies and four Beechwood riders. The following year, two of the riders were over age but the gap was soon filled by two younger Beechwood riders and ponies. Although it was hard training after school, especially in winter, it was good fun and created good memories for all.
In 1986 Beechwood moved to the present location at Hillboxes Dairy Farm in beautiful Marden Park, where her passion for dressage prompted her to host many visiting instructors to run clinics for Beechwood riders, including Lady Sylvia Loch, Charles Harris, Paul Hayler and Mary Wanless. Instructors from other disciplines have also visited over the years, including show jumping, eventing and carriage driving.
Training the Teachers of Tomorrow (TTT)
Jakki was one of the first instructors to become a member of TTT, which was founded in 1987 to educate dedicated equestrians to further their understanding of the correct training of horse and rider, as practiced by the great Masters of Equitation. TTT’s philosophy of teaching riding the classical way, fitted perfectly with her ethos.
In 1990, once again Beechwood horses and riders involved as they joined with Sarah Whitmore’s dsressage team to perform at the Theatrical Dressage competition at Ardingly – a pageant depicting a Spanish Fiesta with Beechwood riders riding pillion in flamenco dresses on the wonderful adaptable Beechwood horses. Lots of fun and memories for all involved.
For five years in the 1980’s Jakki lectured at evening classes in Horse Mastership and Equitation for various education authorities in Bromley, Chislehurst, Biggin Hill and Tandridge ands even Tower Hamlets. Among the subjects covered were Horse Psychology, Grassland Management, Fitting of Saddlery, Feeding and Riding a Dressage Test She also ran classes at Beechwood.
Over the years riders have been encouraged to train and take the BHS exams, as well as participating in Riding & Road Safety courses, which proved popular with weekly riders.
Some of Beechwood’s young riders have been inspired by Jakki to pursue careers in the equestrian world. Their experience at Beechwood provided them with the experience and confidence to join the Mounted Police, The Kings Troop, join Vet school, become farmers, farriers, BHS coaches, instructors and professional grooms (two of whom were based at the Royal Mews in Royal Service) and carriage drivers. One young rider emigrated to Canada with his family, and subsequently set-up a ranch, offering riding holidays.
Through the years, many Beechwood riders have enjoyed borrowing horses, engaging in pleasure rides in Kent, Surrey and the Ashdown Forest in Sussex, as well as competing at local shows and at prestigious Hickstead.
A pony club visit to a world famous Cynthia Haydens Marden Hackney horse and pony stud in Sussex ignited Jakki’s interest in carriage driving and Hackney horses.
Over the years her enthusiasm for carriage driving has inspired a new generation to engage in this wonderful equine pastime, and at this time there are six horses and ponies which are ridden and driven at Beechwood.
Training at Beechwood
Many young people have completed their apprenticeships at Beechwood, including vet students, who participate in hands on work experience a Beechwood.
On behalf of keen students, Jakki has facilited training placements in Point to Point Yards, Veterinary Practices, Kemmels and Farriers.
The future of Beechwood Riding School
Beechwood Riding School’s future in these difficult times remains buoyant due to specialising in teaching classical riding and the loyalty of the fantastic staff, volunteers and riders – and, of course, the wonderful horses.