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Horses for Courses

29th April 2001

Two north horse riding clubs have cleared the final hurdle in their bid to establish a cross country horse riding course for their members.

The Caithness Riding Club and the Caithness branch of The Pony Club are behind the 30,000 (pounds) course which will be constructed this summer at Northfield near Halkirk in Caithness.

When complete, the course will be open to the 136 strong membership of both clubs. Non-members and other groups such as the North Highland College in Thurso will also be able to use the facility for a fee.

Both clubs provide qualified instruction for their members, many of whom compete outside the area. The new course will help improve performances and attract more entries for locally held competitions from other parts of Scotland.

Paul Lee from the Caithness Riding Club has co-ordinated the project. He said: "The new riding course has been in the pipeline for a number of years - but identifying a suitable location and securing a full funding package was difficult. We have now overcome these hurdles and look forward to seeing the first riders tackle the jumps later this year."

"A specialist cross-country course designer has been employed to design the new course which will be constructed from various natural materials such as stone, logs and timber - it will even incorporate a water obstacle. Although it will be mainly used by the two clubs, revenue from individuals and other groups will help make it more sustainable in the longer term and less of a burden on the clubs' own funds."

Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) approved a community action grant worth 7,500 (pounds) towards the project. A National Lottery Sportscotland grant and the clubs' own resources will meet the balance of the 30,000 (pounds) costs.

Acting chief executive at CASE Carroll Buxton said: "Young people make up more than half of the overall membership of the two clubs involved in this project which made it a high priority for assistance. Improving facilities for young people in the area and enabling communities to improve opportunities for recreation is a particular priority under our strategy of strengthening local communities."