Riddells Creek Pony Club - 55 years young!
In 1962, Mr Norm Price, took over the Riddells Creek Hotel at a time when there was not much for kids to do in the town. Norm had three daughters, Margaret – who really wanted a pony of her own; Jeanette –who had been tipped out of a sulky and was not keen on horses; and Vivienne – who was still too little to ride.
Around the same time, Jack Maskell, a farrier, arrived in Riddells Creek from the West Meadows Police Stud with his family (Maureen, Sharon, Paul and Mickala) and a pony called Blackie in the back of the family station wagon. Blackie was housed in a loose-box at Norm's pub. Norm spoke of the pony as being good natured and never kicked, but he would often dump the local kids in the creek and take himself home.
Norm, Jack and Tiny Hawks were having a drink in the pub and decided to start a pony club. It started with a handful of riders meeting at the Recreation Reserve and going for a ride or receiving instruction from Jack.
Tom Healy who was connected with the Oaklands Hunt Club and became the first president with his sons Tim and Tom attending rallies. Also the families of Abrahams, Barclay, Howard, Kemp, Macalister, Smith, Stef, Symons, Teague and Wohl were involved with the club in its early years.
Tom Lloyd from the West Meadows Police Stud arrived with his family. His youngest daughter, Trish (James) rode to school with Maureen Maskell.
Edna Barclay, along with her family put in countless hours with the club. In the early days before Riddell was incorporated in 1965 with PCAV, the Barclay boys would also attend Oaklands Pony Club and represent that club in competitions. Some recall memories of Patsy Abrahams stuffing a cypress stick down a rider's shirt to make them sit straight!
Major Frank Turtle from the Monegeetta Proving Ground enabled an Army unit to be given to the Pony Club in the early 1960’s which was erected on the Recreation Reserve. This first clubhouse later burnt down in 1985. A new clubhouse was built which now belongs to the Gisborne & Districts Obedience Dog Club. In the mid 1990s RCPC moved to it’s current home on Sutherlands Road with the aid of the Rupert Clarke family.
Between 1986 and 1996 the club of approximately 40-50 riders took part in the similar activities as we have today, with the exception that many riders rode their horses to the rally. Parents were happy to have children riding around the town and up to the bush for treasure hunts and orienterring activities as part of the rally. These activities were always supervised by senior experienced riders or by parents on horseback.
During this period the members ran regular fund raising activities. Showumping, combined trraining days, shows and dressage were good ways to raise funds. From this fund raising we were able to extend the new club rooms to store our increasing equipment and build a sand arena. Social functions were also held – progressive dinners, auction nights and pre-Cup fun nights – to give our parents time together as a club.
During this period “whispers” said that RCPC days at the Recreation Reserve were coming to an end. The town was growing and there was a push for a Leisure Centre, with support from Council. The whispers proved true and the Centre was built right at the front door of the Clubrooms. It is still there of course, and has become an asset to the town, but at the time RCPC was not impressed.
There were many discussions with Council, with them coming up with alternative sites which all proved to be quite unsuitable. During these worrying times, at one of our months rallies, Susannah Clarke whose daughters were members of the club, suggested that she might know where we might be able to find some suitable land for the Club. This sounded promising!
As we all now know Rupert Clarke & Co did find a corner for us on “Bolinda Vale”.Negotiations between the Council, Rupert Clarke & Co and RCPC took about two years to complete, but were the foundation for our future. Our club is indebted to Rupert and Susannah for their positive support of our club and to the Council who, once the offer was made by “Bolinda Vale”, was very supportive.
The Council bought the 2.4hectare site where our clubrooms now stand, and an agreement was signed between RCPC and Bolinda Vale for the use of the paddock we now know as the cross country paddock for 30 years (1996-2026).
We began using the arena from 1996, with children riding down each rally for activities, and working bees to build the first of our cross country course. A submission for funding which was written at this time was forwarded to Youth, Sport and Recreation as one of three recommendations made by Council to be considered for funding. Funding for RCPC was approved and this gave us the finance to begin developing the ‘Candlebark ‘ site.
We were off and running!
This period of the Club’s history was a very exciting time. So many working bees and so much enthusiasm and goodwill amongst the parents and members of the club. The club formally moved to Candlebark in 2001.
This enthusiasm and goodwill continues right up until tody and fundraising is etched into the RCPC heart, but perhaps without the same urgency. A quick look around the grounds and facilities shows what has been give to the current and future members of RCPC by the members of previous years.
Riddells Creek Pony Club continues to go from strength to strength based on the strong bond of past and present members who strive to ensure that every rally, clinic and competition is an enjoyable and rewarding experience for all that attend.