In 2021 Ceylon Riding Club secured a license to operate on a three-and-a-half acre site in Port City, Colombo. It’s a real game changer. We finally have the chance to demonstrate a different approach to managing and handling horses. Features of the new stables, include a Members Club and a full size event arena. We look forward to holding our first events before the end of 2022 and will be inviting and encouraging all riding stables in Sri Lanka, including the Army and the Police, to send a team to participate. One of the features of the club will be the ‘Pony Park’ where the public can come and ride at weekends and holidays, for a small charge. Inclusivity, is essential to developing the industry, she explains, some of the best riders in this country right now are our stable lads. We will definitely be holding classes at least one afternoon a week, for special needs children and adults and will be extending this to include riding for people with physical disabilities as soon as it is logistically possible.
Construction of the new stable block, designed by architect, Arosha Perera, is due to be completed in July 2022. The elegant design incorporates locally-sourced materials, steelwork, brick and timber design, to maximize airflow and create the optimum environment for horses. Uniquely, the hospitality areas overlook the arena and the stables.
The design incorporates an indoor floodlit arena. This provides a shady place for daytime lessons and allows for the after-school, after-work clientele. Pitts explains; when I lived in Hong Kong, a group of lady friends would meet on a Tuesday night after work to have our weekly riding lesson and then go for dinner together afterwards. We would look forward to this all week. I hope to restore that tradition at Port City; perhaps we will have a gentleman’s night too.
In addition to the riding school, there is an opportunity to develop the public park areas and create a unique sustainable (ESG) concept that supports the development as a whole. It is a gem of a project, she explains. I will be employing female grooms, another ‘first’ in Sri Lanka, and people from under-developed rural communities, who will gain professional, international-class certification and help us to develop the industry as a whole.
We hope that schools will seize this opportunity to include horse riding as an extra-curricular activity, safe in the knowledge that we are following international (British Horse Society) protocols and have a structured program for young riders if they want to make a career of the sport.