The Sanday Saddle Club began in 1989 when two residents, Marion and Jean, felt that the few island riders who "did their own thing" might like an opportunity to ride together and swap experiences and advice. They planned to provide experiences that most island horses would otherwise never have the chance of, such as jumping, games and cross country, though none of these could be seriously competetive with so few prospective matched competitors. They planned to organise social events, such as picnic rides and treasure hunts.
Membership is open to anyone from aged six upwards. There are also "none-riding" members, who like to join our winter evening get togethers and enjoy helping with the ridden events, driving the food to the picnic site, leading tots on donkeys, etc.
We're a very small club with a membership, most years, of around fifteen. Among them there's expertise in numerous areas of horse management and riding, and what ever your problem, you can usually find someone to offer sound advice - valluable in such a remote community. --And if you need someone to help administer medication, to help start a youngster, to keep an eye on your horse when you go away, etc etc - - just pick up the phone!
From time to time, over the years, we've brought instructors out to Sanday and one the best testimonial to our contribution to the standard of horsemanship in the island is the change that we've made to the local show. There were two entrants in 1988. The classes were "yeld mares" and "geldings", and the judge was really the sheep judge. The entrants were both mares, (sisters, actually), neither well turned out, and the sheep judge, who thought that fat was beautiful and so gave the cup to the grossly fat pony, while awarding the turnout cup to the pony who's ragged mane had been cut to a crest.
In the first year of the Saddle Club, eleven ponies arrived at the field! This sheep judge announced that he'd have to split them into "big ponies" and "little ponies" and proceded to sort us accordingly. Still there were only in hand classes.
Last year, there were over twenty entrants. Classification into "big" and "little" is now officially set at under and over 13.2 hh (which provides the most even split in our horse population). For many years now there has been a ridden section, and the judge is most deffinitely a horse judge. Horses gleam and where appropriate sport neat plaits. Riders turn out neat and tidy, even if they don't own a show jacket. --And while some horses may not be on their best behaviour in the unfamiliar show ring, evidence of serious preparation for the ridden classes is undeniable.
Besides the changes in the classes, we've campained for a larger show ring, and official warm up area, and gates arranged perpendicular to the fence they espect us to tie up to to separate horses that may not get on.