GATEACRE RIDING SCHOOL - anyone?

selside

Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2010
1,197
323
83
61
Yorkshire Dales
This is a very, very long shot - BUT

Does anyone remember (or know anything about) GATEACRE RIDING SCHOOL in the Woolton area of Liverpool? I learnt to ride there in the late '60's early 70's. It has long since closed. I often think about it as it was a rather Dickensian suburban riding school with a dusty cobwebby old indoor school in the middle of Gateacre village.

The instructor was an extraordinary man called Jim Blundell. I've tried Googling it, but there isn't info about. There was one worrying thread that suggested he had shot all his horses, presumably when it had to close down. It's just the sort of things he would have done. He loved them all dearly, but at the same time would hurt his walking cane at the ponies if they didn't behave - I always worried about them tripping if they got tangled up. (I was only 8 or 9 and did not know that a broken leg meant the end.)

I can still remember the names of many of the horses and ponies there - even after all this time.
 

Lindaya

New Member
Dec 23, 2014
2
0
1
69
just found this . started over two years ago.
I used to ride at Gateacre Riding School owned by the Laverys. Early 60s. I remember horses called Paddy .. a bay. Clipper .. a huge skinny horse. Flash a small black pony with a tiny white flash. I remember safety wasn't a high priority and I'm not sure how well the horses were treated.
 

selside

Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2010
1,197
323
83
61
Yorkshire Dales
OOh imagine that! Someone actually remembers it! I recall the boss man's horse as being a bright chestnut Arab called Allah. There was a very naughty little bay pony I used to ride called Viper who used to run to the top of the arena-side muck heap and stay up there. Also a Fjord pony I once fell off, and a little dark bay called Merrylegs who broke a leg and had to be pts. Very mixed memories. Funny how I can still remember so much even though it was nearly 50 years ago!
PS Thanks for the reply....
 

Lindaya

New Member
Dec 23, 2014
2
0
1
69
I think I may be getting mixed up. I've just remembered the riding school was called Childwall Abbey Riding school. Owned by Sheila Lavery. If it is not the same riding school then it is very close by. I just google mapped the area. Difficult to find where it was as so much has changed. Down Priory Road I think. I'm sorry if I've got it wrong!
 

Maximus

New Member
Jan 24, 2015
1
0
1
55
Hi

Ive just joined this forum because I was looking back at when I used to go riding years ago and thought I would google Gateacre Riding School to see if i could find any old pics (other than the ones I had myself) on the internet and it led me to this post...

It was back in the seventies when I used to take two buses to get to Gateacre Riding School on Grange Lane, I would live for every Sunday just to ride there. I lived in Anfield at the time, and I was of much amusement to the people on the bus as I boarded in my riding attire! Back in those days (and probably even more so nowadays) it just wasnt the "done thing" and so I generated a lot of interest being in the city!

Other than Driver a big black Fell who was usually my main ride and my "first love", I remember Ala, Hamish, Merrylegs, Misty, Horrocks to name a few (surprising myself at this remarkable memory bearing in mind I cant usually remember something from the middle of last week!) We used to ride outdoors in the arena when the weather was good, trotting, cantering in a circle and each of us taking a turn in middle, simple things...there was also the indoor "arena" a cold stone building which was used in bad weather. I remember Irene who always led the class on Ala, she was a lot older than me and always reminded me of June Allinson (really showing my age now!) It wasnt a riding school for jumping just a place where you could indulge your love of horses...Jim was a bruiser of a man ruddy faced always in an oversized jumper with wellington boots and he carried a walking stick, I dont remember him ever using it in a harsh way just as a nudge to those horses who would have rather preferred to be snug and blanketed up in their stable. His lovely wife Joan was a slip of a woman but she was so lovely and friendly.

I also rode at Childwall Riding School but wasnt too fussed on that establishment. This riding school was on Childwall Priory Road just almost behind the pub. Owned and run by Sheila Lavery who i think went on to run Maypole Riding School?

After Gateacre closed, I also went to Tarbock Riding School and rode Saxon.

Ive attached a pic of myself on Horrocks and one of Driver whom i still have the hairs of his tail taken just before he was pts...At the time i never understood why Jim chose to have the horses put to sleep...but in this society today where animal cruelty is beyond belief, yes, I understand now...

IMAG0582.jpg IMAG0585.jpg
 

selside

Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2010
1,197
323
83
61
Yorkshire Dales
Wow - how interesting to get a reply from someone else who remembers the place! You must have been riding at roughly the same time as me, if Merrylegs was still there. It was my first riding experience, as fairly small girl. I only rode the smaller ponies, so I am sorry to say I don't remember Horrocks. Driver rings a bell though.

I remember the inside school as having very grimy clerestory windows, and being a bit dusty and cobwebby. We took things in turns in lesson, riding to the back of the ride. The one and only time in my riding life I have been properly winded was in the indoor school. The Fjord pony I was riding suddenly took off down the long side, shooting out from under me and leaving me momentarily suspended (think carton character running off a cliff). I crashed down flat on my back and thought I was going to die... Horrible experience, having the wind totally knocked out of you. I remember crying and refusing to get back on (wuss). That's the place where it was confirmed I was allergic to horses. I used to go out on the lead rein alongside Jim on Ala, and the big horses Arabian tail used to lash me across the face and neck as we cantered along. It took a while for folk to work out why I kept coming home with wheals across my neck and covered in a sort of nettle rash. The first time Mum saw me and my red eyes and face she thought I had been crying because I had hated it and was really surprised that I wanted to keep going.

Hacks used to work one of two ways. You either started at the riding school and hacked up through Woolton village to "the Track", or the other way round. Once at the Track - a stretch of, well, track, you could have a good canter down it and then back on the lower path through the woods. Riders who were on the next hack would start here, mounting up and having their canters first, then hacking the return route back down to Gateacre. I suppose someone must have driven them back to their cars - I never thought about it at the time.

Either way they would hack past my house on the hill on Church Road, Woolton. We had a really high sandstone wall at the end of our garden and instead of watching at the gate I would always climb up the adjacent sycamore tree on onto the top of the wall to watch and wave. Pony mad. To this day I can never hear the sound of hooves on tarmac without having to go out and look. We all wore those baggy thighed cord cotton jodhpurs that practically stood up on their own, and lost all flexibility after washing.

Jim was a real old fashioned horseman. Even then it must have been hard work to keep a city riding school going. The riding school used to have a Christmas party, usually a some big place up in Woolton woods or Reynolds park. I remember trolling up to the bar with a chum and shamelessly trying to order a Babycham, despite being about 10. I can't remember if I was given one or not, but I do remember JIm laughing at us.

When I moved on to secondary school I swapped with a friend to go to Lydiate Riding School which had better facilities. Can't recall as much about that place, except my pal always going leading ride on a big grey called Chimes. Before we left Liverpool we rode at another RS further up the coast north of the city where there was chance to do some XC, and hack out across fields and along the canal.

Thanks for taking the time to post the photos, Maximus. It takes me right back. I could even be one of the little ones on ponies in the background. You can even make out the muck heap in the background left!
Happy times, your first riding experiences
 
  • Like
Reactions: Madamspook

missoula20

New Member
Mar 9, 2015
4
2
3
69
Just came across this thread. Fascinating. I started riding at Gateacre in 1964. Memories are still fresh. The earliest horses I remember are Dawn and Driver, Driver's half sister, Bramble. Then there was Jonathan and Juliet, Storm & Gale and Storm's son, Cherokee, Jingles & Romany and Simon (a little dun pony and my favourite) and Merrylegs and Wildfire. There was little Penny, who was, I think, 33 when she was finally put down .
Ala came later and I loved riding him. Jim also bought a skewbald cob for himself called Kate. Another later addition, Desmond, was a firm favourite of mine.
He bought a mare, Annabelle, who one day down at The Track, kicked Little Dan, Joan's favourite pony and broke his leg. Needless to say, Annabelle was soon sold.
Before The Track, down at Allerton, was made available to riders, we used to ride all around Gateacre and Woolton. There were still lots of fields to canter in then.
My sister, friends and I spent every spare minute up at the stables, helping Delia, Margaret and Chris to muck out. They were wonderfully happy times and we made so many friends.
Jim and Joan eventually sold their house in Allerton and had a house built from one end of the indoor school, so that they could be on site. They bought a German Shepherd, Major, as a guard dog.
Jim certainly was a character. I remember him saying to me that he couldn't get 'soppy' over a horse like we girls did, but he'd sit up all night with one if necessary. However, he could be a bit handy with his walking stick from time to time. I remember poor Simon, who wasn't an easy ride, getting it occasionally. I didn't like that.
Jim and Joan came to my wedding in 1973 because they'd been such a part of my childhood.
Selside - I think your 'Fjord' pony may have been Juliet? She had a very high, curved neck. Jim hogged nearly all his horses' manes (except Ala, the Arab), which we all hated, but he thought they looked 'neater'.
I remember the parties - one was definitely at Reynolds Park. The daughters of its then owner rode at Gateacre. He also hosted a meal at his house in Halewood, was it? Gosh I just can't remember his name or the girls' names. The horses are much easier to remember!
Maximus - I do remember Irene, though, who as you say, usually rode Ala. I recognise Driver in your photograph and I think that's Merrylegs in the background. Horrocks, I don't remember. Was he a late addition?
Joan had this idea for having a Social Section and a few of us used to meet to arrange activities, but it never really took off.
The reason the indoor school was full of cobwebs was because Joan thought it was bad luck to remove them! That's what she told us anyway.
Now I'm remembering two more ponies - Buttons and Bubbles. Bubbles was a small grey who was lame for ages and it turned out he'd broken the pedal bone in his foot, just like the racehorse, Arkle did. He had to be put down. We all cried for ages.
And yes, when Jim retired he had every horse put down and held each one while the deed was done. He said he didn't want them to end up neglected. It was a strange decision and not a popular one.
Well, this has been a real ride down memory lane. Apologies if it's a bit rambling. I wonder if we ever met back then? We rode for ages on a Sunday afternoon and prior to that on a Wednesday evening.
After I went away to college, I rode just when I came home.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Madamspook

Jane B

New Member
May 3, 2015
2
1
1
64
Just came across this thread. Fascinating. I started riding at Gateacre in 1964. Memories are still fresh. The earliest horses I remember are Dawn and Driver, Driver's half sister, Bramble. Then there was Jonathan and Juliet, Storm & Gale and Storm's son, Cherokee, Jingles & Romany and Simon (a little dun pony and my favourite) and Merrylegs and Wildfire. There was little Penny, who was, I think, 33 when she was finally put down .
Ala came later and I loved riding him. Jim also bought a skewbald cob for himself called Kate. Another later addition, Desmond, was a firm favourite of mine.
He bought a mare, Annabelle, who one day down at The Track, kicked Little Dan, Joan's favourite pony and broke his leg. Needless to say, Annabelle was soon sold.
Before The Track, down at Allerton, was made available to riders, we used to ride all around Gateacre and Woolton. There were still lots of fields to canter in then.
My sister, friends and I spent every spare minute up at the stables, helping Delia, Margaret and Chris to muck out. They were wonderfully happy times and we made so many friends.
Jim and Joan eventually sold their house in Allerton and had a house built from one end of the indoor school, so that they could be on site. They bought a German Shepherd, Major, as a guard dog.
Jim certainly was a character. I remember him saying to me that he couldn't get 'soppy' over a horse like we girls did, but he'd sit up all night with one if necessary. However, he could be a bit handy with his walking stick from time to time. I remember poor Simon, who wasn't an easy ride, getting it occasionally. I didn't like that.
Jim and Joan came to my wedding in 1973 because they'd been such a part of my childhood.
Selside - I think your 'Fjord' pony may have been Juliet? She had a very high, curved neck. Jim hogged nearly all his horses' manes (except Ala, the Arab), which we all hated, but he thought they looked 'neater'.
I remember the parties - one was definitely at Reynolds Park. The daughters of its then owner rode at Gateacre. He also hosted a meal at his house in Halewood, was it? Gosh I just can't remember his name or the girls' names. The horses are much easier to remember!
Maximus - I do remember Irene, though, who as you say, usually rode Ala. I recognise Driver in your photograph and I think that's Merrylegs in the background. Horrocks, I don't remember. Was he a late addition?
Joan had this idea for having a Social Section and a few of us used to meet to arrange activities, but it never really took off.
The reason the indoor school was full of cobwebs was because Joan thought it was bad luck to remove them! That's what she told us anyway.
Now I'm remembering two more ponies - Buttons and Bubbles. Bubbles was a small grey who was lame for ages and it turned out he'd broken the pedal bone in his foot, just like the racehorse, Arkle did. He had to be put down. We all cried for ages.
And yes, when Jim retired he had every horse put down and held each one while the deed was done. He said he didn't want them to end up neglected. It was a strange decision and not a popular one.
Well, this has been a real ride down memory lane. Apologies if it's a bit rambling. I wonder if we ever met back then? We rode for ages on a Sunday afternoon and prior to that on a Wednesday evening.
After I went away to college, I rode just when I came home.
 

Jane B

New Member
May 3, 2015
2
1
1
64
I often wondered if anybody out there remembered Jim and Joan, I still have my badge - a horseshoe in silver and blue with Gateacre Riding School in the middle. I remember many of the ponies mentioned and have a very worn shoe which belonged to Little Dan, I was riding him when it came off and Jim gave it to me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Madamspook

missoula20

New Member
Mar 9, 2015
4
2
3
69
I often wondered if anybody out there remembered Jim and Joan, I still have my badge - a horseshoe in silver and blue with Gateacre Riding School in the middle. I remember many of the ponies mentioned and have a very worn shoe which belonged to Little Dan, I was riding him when it came off and Jim gave it to me.
I too still have my silver and blue horseshoe badge! Happy times.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Madamspook

lesley wright

New Member
Aug 13, 2015
2
0
1
63
I too still have my silver and blue horseshoe badge! Happy times.
I remember going there!! Loved horses, my favourite was Cherokee, I rembember, Dawn, she was always ridden by a middle aged lady who used to wear the full proper riding gear, black blazer, bowler hat etc. I've googled it in images and it's now posh mews property. We used to go to Clarks Gardens in fine weather and stay in the school when raining. Didn't like Jim, the owner, but his wife was nice. I heard he was prosecuted for cruelty and that's why it was closed down. Loads of memories!!
 

KathyNic

New Member
Nov 7, 2015
1
1
1
64
I too used to ride there in 1971/72 and remember some of the ponies. Allah, a chestnut Arab/part Arab,Dawn a pretty grey, Driver who was black, Cherokee, a strawberry roan, Romany, grey, Simon, dun, Merrylegs, a small bay, Oliver, a fleabitten grey, Desmond who was very naughty and bucked a lot. There was also a bay around 15hh whose name I cannot remember, but it was a military name, I think.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Madamspook

Alison

New Member
Nov 8, 2015
3
4
3
56
Allah, Oliver, Katie, Pippin, Simon, Toby, Poppet, Jingles, Squire, Driver, Drifter, Cherokee, Jorrocks, Merrylegs, Desmond...I rode them all between 1972 and 1978??!!!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Madamspook

selside

Well-Known Member
Jul 1, 2010
1,197
323
83
61
Yorkshire Dales
It's great to still get replies to my original thread! I recall my earliest riding days quite clearly in some ways, but would never have remembered all those names myself. Now I hear them most of them ring a bell, and it seems that 50 odd years later I had some of my "facts" jumbled up. I was lucky to be able to ride in a city environment. Some of my school friends loaned ponies down on Hale marshes. I used to cycle down from our house up on Woolton hill to potter about bareback on them. Happy times - memories of our childhood ponies.
 

SBH

New Member
Dec 22, 2015
1
3
3
64
Gosh, how wonderful to find so many who remember Jim et al - I imagine for most of us it was the beginning of a lifetime of loving, riding and working with horses. Hats off to Alison for remembering so many names - and I can confirm that Juliet was the Fjord. I have a photo of me sitting on her facing the outside wall of the school where we all used to mount, wearing the compulsory WW1 jodhs !! My absolute lifelong love of horses began in Gatacre at the age of 5 and over the years my most vivid memories involve Driver (who I utterly adored) and Allah (the ultimate promotion for a 12 year old!) until I left to live in the Far East in 1969. Since then, I've ridden all my life and still do, competed for RAF, and tried to ride in every country I have visited. But it all started with Jim and Joan. I would say, looking back, it is easy to understand that some people may recall Jim in a 'Marmite' sort of way. However, he was a man of his time,an old school rider and teacher - certainly no Monty Roberts - but I would challenge anyone who said he didn't care for his horses. No-one ever got rich out of running a riding school and for a city establishment, principally catering for young children/ teenagers, it offered a pretty good start for young riders (at least in the '60s).

Missoula - well done you...I remember Major so well - a terrifying softie who was meant to patrol the yard at night. And now we know there are at least 3 blue and silver horseshoe badges out there - mine is still pinned to the old, threadbare hacking jacket I wore when I was 10!! My mother kept it in the mistaken belief that her grandchildren would still be wearing the same 'uniform' in the '90s....some hope!

Thank you all for jogging some very happy memories!
ps - just thought of another one ....anyone remember how Driver used to soooo gently take a piece of bread or even a polo out of your mouth??? Health & Safety would have had a field day!
 

Alison

New Member
Nov 8, 2015
3
4
3
56
I rode at Gateacre on Saturday mornings. As well as the ponies, I remember a lovely lady called Margaret, who worked there, and Jean and friends Barbara, Graham and Dorothy.
I remember Jim's 'book' in which all the horses were listed and how we waited with baited breath to find out who we were going to ride! I think he retired to the Lake District.
The first horse I rode was Katie; as an 8 year old, she seemed very big! I then moved on to Toby who had to be PTS due to laminitis and then rode Drifter, Merrylegs and Allah.
When Gateacre closed, I rode at Fender Valley in Moreton before the demands of a Saturday job and school work meant that I stopped riding for a number of years, resuming again in Manchester when I was 23 and buying my first cob!
I am now 50 and have 4 horses. My son (now 18) has ridden all his life and my husband, who wasn't 'into' horses until he met me, drives 2 of our horses and has recently learned to ride!
My childhood experience at GRS has truly shaped the course of my life.
I love reading the stories on this thread and hope that further posts will follow.
 

MEP

New Member
Apr 23, 2016
3
0
1
77
Kia ora from Aotearoa/New Zealand! There I was, watching the Hairy Bikers "do" the Beatles' pubs on the telly, and they inevitably ended up in Woolton. That jogged ancient memory, and led me to wonder if I could find my old riding school, which brought me to this thread. I learnt to ride at the Gateacre Riding School in my student days (mid-60s, say no more), following in my younger sister's footsteps - or is that hoofprints? I remember Jim Blundell well, and the names of the horses on this thread brought back yet more memories. My favourite mount was a beautiful big mare with a glossy coat called Cleo - still got a photo of me on her somewhere. One day she disappeared, and I learnt that Jim had been sold a load of dusty hay, from which Cleo contracted a cough. He put her out to grass for ages, in the hope that her keeping her head down to graze would clear the cough. It didn't, and when he could no longer afford to keep her, he reluctantly had her put down - near broke his heart, and mine. After that, my main ride was Driver. He always wanted to be right behind Jim, but I often wanted to chat to another rider further back in the procession - the battles were epic! I used to ride on a Wednesday afternoon, when I had no lectures, so most of the other riders were housewives a good deal older than me. I'd have to say that the horses learnt to tolerate my big black motorbike rather better than those ladies did! Thanks for the memories!
 

MEP

New Member
Apr 23, 2016
3
0
1
77
It's very rude to reply to one's own post - so here goes! Google Maps shows that the buildings are still there. I was puzzled by the entrance - didn't remember a passageway. Then I remembered missoula20 telling us Jim & his wife built a house out of the end of the indoor school, so that must have been when the tunnel was built. The big black gate to the right of Riding School House is where I went in and out - be it on 4 legs or 2 wheels. I wonder if the owner of the car visible through the entrance on the Google Maps view realises it's parked where the midden used to be? The alterations Jim made would be impossible now - the buildings are listed:
https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1052247
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
A Gateacre Riding School Cafe 0
L Racehorse to Riding horse Competing 18
Skib Riding Lessons? Cafe 8
Jane&Ziggy Long riding coat recommendations Tried and Tested 6
Emma_ Which riding school? First Timers 9
Doodle92 Ever wonder what people think of you when riding? Cafe 5
P Nervous riding forward/lively horse Confidence Club 19
Straight Egyptian Horse riding and me Cafe 9
H Riding position problems, please help! Training of the Horse and Rider 16
Callum1 What should men wear for English riding? Tack & Saddlery 3
Callum1 Men wearing horse riding clothes in public places? Competing 17
M Riding School Query - Should I stay? First Timers 12
horseandgoatmom 2021 Hacking and Riding Hacking 826
floppy Sealskinz Elgin riding gloves Tack & Saddlery 7
F Champion evolution ventair riding hats Tack & Saddlery 1
R Riding school expectations Older Riders 4
L I sweat loads when I'm riding. Older Riders 7
X Are there adult and child riding boots in same size?? First Timers 6
T My riding is a mess... Training of the Horse and Rider 2
L Winter riding boots Cafe 13
luckycharm Getting back into riding... First Timers 7
charmisthebesthorse Please help what riding ability am I? Cafe 16
M How to "get into" riding when you know nothing. Best First steps? First Timers 3
L Riding holidays in the UK recommendations Cafe 5
F Riding with your kids Training of the Horse and Rider 6
charmisthebesthorse Any tall riders still riding ponies ?? Cafe 10
ReturneeRider Riding school in Durham? Cafe 1
lindsay_314 Nervous about first riding lesson First Timers 16
K Looking for recommendations to return to riding Darlington Durham area Training of the Horse and Rider 1
ReturneeRider Buying a riding school horse First Timers 13
M What is the difference? Riding style question Training of the Horse and Rider 11
F Champion riding hats Cafe 3
C Everything Horses, Everything Riding Cafe 11
J Does horse-riding require a cell phone 'hands-free' microphone? Horse Care 14
olivermas Riding helmets Cafe 9
M Brand new to riding First Timers 7
P Riding trainers Cafe 7
Skib Riding after 60 Older Riders 2
P 2020 Hacking & Riding Thread Hacking 977
J Free Rein Riding Holidays First Timers 5
L Whats you’re 2020 horse riding goals Cafe 14
J Using more than one riding school First Timers 16
J How to find a good riding stables First Timers 9
stigofthedump Can't hear what the riding instructor says in a group lesson Older Riders 16
E Riding my two horses 600 miles across Ireland unsupported... and all on roads!!! WTH?!?!?! Hacking 20
E Riding my two horses 600 miles across Ireland! Transport and Travelling 4
Ale Riding causing pain and your experiences Cafe 26
L Riding Just Got More Expensive Cafe 24
N Saw something really rare out riding Cafe 8
rosie1985 Back in the saddle: sore knees + ethical riding schools? Older Riders 16

Similar threads

newrider.com