Aqueos - To Livery in Hope
Some equestrians change yards more often than they change numnahs, but not me – in the eight years I’ve been a horse owner, my home-from-home has been George’s Ranch in Peyia, Cyprus.
With two sand arenas – one for jumping, the other for dressage – a lunge pen, shower area, tie-up, secure tack room, CCTV, tack shop (stocked with Aqueos goodies), sea views, electricity (apparently not a given in some yards here), a small army of cats and staff on site at all times, there’s not much that we’re missing at the Ranch other than a horse walker – and we’re working on that!
But great facilities are only part of the story – there are plenty of places that are all fur coat and no knickers – and a yard is only as good as its owner. Lucky for us then, that we have an exceptionally talented rider with a wealth of experience and knowledge under her Pikeur-clad ass as the boss.
For more than 20 years, Caroline Scambler has been the beating heart of George’s Ranch, transforming it from a rough-and-ready attraction for happy-hacking tourists into Cyprus’s premier equestrian centre.
In recent years, we’ve been privileged to welcome equestrian glitterati such as Pammy Hutton, Judy Bradwell and Paul Fielder as well as stars like Peter Andre, Stavros Flatley and some girl from EastEnders. We play hard, ride with care and don’t take ourselves too seriously.
And because George’s Ranch is the only livery yard I’ve ever known, I have been astounded at some of the stories I’ve heard from my fellow Ranchers. Here are just some of the experiences they’ve told me about, both here in Cyprus and the UK…
DIY livery at £600 a month with no turnout over winter and no menage or lunge pen to save clients from potential death; having to pay extra just to have your horse rugged up on a night; charging for stables before clients even arrive (saying it’s the last available space, when it really, really isn’t); being gazumped on stables on the morning you are scheduled to move in; finding a yard owner’s mare has mysteriously bred with a prize stallion (well, accidents happen if you don’t bolt the gates and put on soft music); having no one willing to bring your horse in from the field when you are snowed in at home (clearly not a Cyprus story); refusing to add water to hard feed; psych evaluations of horses that actually need a vet or consistent training; horses with colic being left to their own devices; taking a full loan only to find others riding the horse while you’re stuck at work; and having to buy haylage by the net or months in advance because the yard owner has run out of cash.
Of course, there are also fabulous livery yards to be found that have to contend with nightmare clients, but again, George’s Ranch seems to have bypassed much of that world of crazy, possibly because of its size. With more than 40 horses on site and back-to-back lessons six days a week, all the while remaining one of the region’s top tourist attractions, the yard is always incredibly busy, leaving little room, time or inclination for cliques to form and back-biting to dampen the atmosphere. By and large, we’re a supportive group of very keen and committed amateurs wanting little more than to keep on getting better at what we are there to do. Although covid has curtailed our gatherings, we toast every success, share the excitement of new horses and new skills learned, and genuinely enjoy our time together.
On a personal note, I have also developed handling and riding skills I don’t think I would have at any other yard, mainly thanks to Caroline giving me the time, instruction and trust to help with new and young horses coming into the Ranch over the years. And though I won’t go all Victor Kiam about the place – “I loved it so much I bought the company” – I am now the owner of a healthy percentage of horse there. What’s more, I wouldn’t have it any other way.