Rosemary Brooke and her husband of 34 years, Alan, moved to Flintshire in 1986 to what was then a small-holding of 10 acres and what is now the well-known Marian Bach Equestrian Centre.
With husband Alan keen to learn to ride. Rosemary soon sourced him a horse and helped him learn. It wasn’t long before he was out hunting and, with him needing space to practise the jumps. Rosemary and Alan set about building some cross country fences.
Now, the centre has 40 cross country jumps ranging from water jumps and coffins to ditches, steps and brush fences, making it an ideal training ground for any who wish to use it. From 1987, the course has been available for hire all year round.
“The course turned out quite well so I thought we might as well open it up for hire.”, explained Rosemary, who takes such joy in seeing the facilities at her centre being used. Since 1989, the centre has also hosted British Dressage competitions in its 60x20m arena in addition to a 20x40m arena, which has the added benefit of being floodlit with mirrors.
From April to October each year, the centre hosts its dressage club where anyone is welcome to sign up for £10. Unaffiliated events run throughout the season, alongside both Team and My Quest British Dressage classes, with members earning points which are totalled for a November awards evening. Classes run from intro B (walk and trot) to medium level.
“Each year we have over 500 riders turning up,” said Rosemary. “And last year, we have over 50 members which was brilliant. The £10 helps towards the ribbons and prizes.
“We also have posters and buckets out to raise money for the charity, Amser Justin Time, which was set up by a good friend of mine, [opera singer and actress] Shan Cothi, who very sadly lost her husband, Justin Smith [aka Pepsi Tate of the rock band, Tigertailz] to pancreatic cancer when he was just 42 years old.
“Shan organised a huge ride from north to south Wales in 2008 to raise money and awareness of the disease and has now set up an official charity for the cause. She is a good friend and we do a lot together, so I was delighted to be able to give her nearly £500 towards the charity after last year’s dressage.”
Rosemary, who recently celebrated her 81st birthday, continues to ride regularly and owns six horses, including two by the prolific Dutch Warmblood, Negro, sire of the world-famous dressage superstar Valegro.
Rosemary is more often found on her Irish show cob, Connor who she has owned for nine years.
“It’s a team effort but I do all the paper work myself,” added Rosemary. “Alan helps with the arenas and maintenance and we have a few lovely girls in to do the horses for us. There are also three liveries who look after themselves.
“We love what we do and are keen for people to come and see us. We’ve met all manner of interesting people over the years including the great Olympic rider, Spencer Wilton who has been here teaching and Justine Armitage who lives just up the road from us and has done training clinics here. It’s brilliant to see the place being used and enjoyed by so many,” concluded Rosemary. “We will keep on going for as long as we can keep going.”
Credit: Welsh Rider March 2019
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