St Teresa’s School’s new £250,000 facility will give pupils from nursery to sixth form the opportunity to ride regularly on school grounds as an extra-curricular activity.
Girls will be able to stable their horses and ponies and benefit from expert tuition.
The state-of-the-art centre includes an American-style barn for 10 horses, together with an office, lecture room, wash box and field barn.
The new scheme – St Teresa’s Equestrian (STE) – is led by director Jen Pogacic, who comes to the school after working with former European champion and Ockley resident Pippa Funnell.
School spokeswoman Jilly Cooper said: “With the sun threatening to appear at any time, the gates finally opened to herald the launch of STE after months of planning, preparation and construction of our superb new complex.”
The first activity was a ‘decorate your own horseshoe’, followed by ‘design your own show jump’, with both competitions eliciting colourful entries from students.
Ms Cooper added: “Our first [riding] demonstration came from Year 12 pupil Eleanor Craig-Fisher and her coach, Alison Craig, who did a great job of demonstrating the paces of the horse, Wizard, as well as showing off some of the higher level moves required in competitive dressage.
“The second demonstration came from the prep school team of Mia Sherazee with Curly; Soraya Kamal with Ellie; Emma Nelson with Wilf and Lexi Watkins with Chessy. Together, they performed a dazzling drill ride display, highlighting what can be achieved when combining teamwork and riding skills.
“It was soon time for the opening ceremony and an entertaining and heartfelt speech from Michael Bray, our chairman of governors.”
Mr Bray spoke with passion of the discipline and pleasure that riding demands, and the rewards that it provides in return. He pointed out that learning to ride is great fun – apart from the odd tumble – but does require self-discipline and effort.