Alison Murdoch. Age 62. Riding since the age of seven.
How did you first hear about Lee Valley Riding Centre and the park as a whole?
I’ve lived in the area for most of my life so have been using it for a number of years. When my children were younger we regularly cycled along the River Lea and I’ve gone for long walks with them and other friends all over the park many times.
What impact has riding had on your life and what do you most enjoy most about riding?
Riding just crept up on me as I started with once a week and I now ride four times a week. To be honest, I find myself arranging my schedule and social life around my riding. It takes you away from your day-to-day concerns and worries as you concentrate on working with your horse. Riding is a great stress-buster.
And grooming, talking to and generally looking after the horses is hugely relaxing. You can’t give a horse just part of your attention. My children also rode when they were younger and I enjoyed watching them progress. Riding has also undoubtedly helped me to keep fit. I have also made some very good lifelong friends at Lea Valley who share my passion for horses.
What are your future targets in relation to riding?
There’s always room for improvement and I am working on gaining a better partnership with my horse and improving my marks in our in-house dressage competitions. But above all, I want to continue enjoying myself and to keep riding for as long as I can.
How does riding benefit people’s lives?
Riding offers a lot of benefits: exercise, learning a new skill, meeting like-minded people, but above all getting to know so many different horses and ponies, all of whom have their own personalities, strengths and quirks. Building and maintaining a relationship with a horse is an amazing experience.
How would you describe Lee Valley Riding Centre in terms of the impact it has had on riding in general?
It’s been enormous. . Non-riders, including many children, visit the centre to see the ponies and horses, the have-a-go sessions allow people who might never have thought of riding to try it out safely with sensitive instructors, lessons go from absolute beginner to advanced level dressage, horses on the livery yard range from old favourites to very advanced competition horses and I learn a lot from watching the latter being ridden.
How would you describe the Park, its venues and what it offers?
I love the Park as it’s a chance to see nature in the centre of London. It’s a very unique space. I spend more time in the southern more urban end of the park where you still get a chance to bird watch and get away from it all even though you are still in the heart of the city.
Can you tell us a bit about your horse?
Silver is a 10-year-old grey Irish sport horse mare. I have her on half loan which means she is exclusively mine to ride for 3 days a week but also does lessons with other Lee Valley clients. Silver loves her food and will investigate my pockets to see if there are any hidden carrots. She seems to be particularly attracted to mud and rolls in it until she is caked! So that’s a lot of grooming before I can ride.