Local school children and volunteers at Gloucester’s St James City Farm and Riding School were treated to an equestrian demonstration from Professor Andy Collop - Vice-Chancellor, Principal and CEO of Hartpury University and Hartpury College, on Friday 18 November. The visit underlines the importance of Hartpury’s longstanding relationship with the charity.
Andy teamed up with his own horse Duffy, a 16.3hh Thoroughbred x Clydesdale mare, to demonstrate everything from tacking up to jumping. Two Shetland ponies were in attendance too, showing the huge height difference between them and competition horse Duffy, who is also used by college and university students at Hartpury Equine. Andy’s wife Karen attended, bringing along their dogs Bea and Nell who were a huge hit with the adults and children alike.
Overseen by coordinator Imran Atcha, the farm and riding school is run by the Friendship Café (a registered charity) and is a non-profit community project that provides youth and community-based activities in Gloucester. Serving local young people, the organisation runs a host of projects ranging from learning how to grow vegetables to getting young people to design livestock housing. Offering hands on practical farm experience has proven to be an effective way to build knowledge, experience, and aspirations for city children to learn and benefit from interaction with animals and nature.
“The relationship between Hartpury, St James City Farm and Riding School and the overall Friendship Café is hugely important, and I’m committed to continuing this partnership into the future,” said Andy.
“It was a privilege to be able to share my own equestrian passion with the local school children, their teachers, and the volunteers, and I was thrilled to be able to put on this demonstration which I hope everyone enjoyed. Duffy was the real star of the show taking everything in her stride and, as always, she looked after her ageing but enthusiastic rider! Having access to horses and animals in general is so important as this is what ultimately sparks the passion to pursue a rewarding hobby or even a future career with animals.
“St James City Farm and the Friendship Café shares our values in sharing the many benefits of being around animals and rural life, and the lifechanging impacts they can bring.”
The relationship with St James City Farm is part of Hartpury’s community outreach programme. Hartpury students at both the college and university level have attended St James City Farm for work experience, accessing species not kept on campus and demonstrating several routine husbandry tasks such as health checking, sex identification, nail and claw clipping and grooming.
Hartpury provided its first subject specific outreach taster event in October 2021. Since then, they have welcomed children from the Friendship Café (part of St James City Farm) to engage in both equine and sport subject taster events and we are investigating different activities to serve the community for future events.