Questions and Answers about Amargeti Equestrian Club

Extract from the interview with Cyprus Reporter, February 2014

1) Who are you?

First of all I welcome you to our Horse Riding Club and we hope you will enjoy the facilities. My name is Marlene and I am Canadian, my husband is Michael and is from Holland.

We had visited Cyprus a couple of times between 2000 and 2005 and fell in love with the island and decided to move here permanently in 2006.

I come from a horse background and have been surrounded with horses my entire life. When I was a teenager I always owned a horse and after school hours, I used to give lessons on a farm nearby our house, because I enjoy teaching other enthusiastic horse lovers.

2) What kind of activities do you do here in the Horse Riding Club?

OK, where shall I begin, as we do a lot here? First of all, we give the opportunity to the local Paphos residents to learn how to ride a horse in the proper and safe way in order to enjoy the sport, so hopefully it becomes a part of their lifestyle.

Our main activities are 8 fold as follows:-

1) Lessons (Dressage & Jumping): we teach dressage from beginners level to advanced level. Mastering dressage up to a certain level is very important as it is the basic of all other horse riding disciplines. Furthermore, we give jumping lessons from beginners to advanced and we have built a jumping arena for that purpose.

2) Livery stables: if someone who owns a horse but does not have the space or time any more to look after it, they can bring their horse to our club where we will take care of the horse. We will feed it, we clean its stable and we daily put it in a paddock so it can freely move around.

3) Hacking: if you know how to ride a horse, you can rent a horse from the club and take the horse out for a walk into the nature. Amargeti valley is fantastic for hacking, we have endless trails into the hills and the scenery is simply breath taking. The hacks are always supervised hacks so a competent staff member will accompany the rider on the hack to show them the nice and safe routes.

4) Carriage riding: we are now in the training process to teach 2 ponies how to pull a carriage so we can take several people out in a carriage and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

5) Pony rides: we conduct pony rides for the very young riders. These are short rides of a couple rounds in the arena whereby a trainer has the horse on a lead and walks next to the horse.

6) Train & exercise and break horses: we train and exercise and break other people’s horses if they have no time to do it. They will leave the horse in our stables after which we will take care of it for a period of time and conduct all the training, as agreed with the owner of the horse. For young horses which have never been ridden before, we offer a program to break the horse safely without too much stress for the animal and we will teach the horse how to load into a horse trailer. This period of breaking is extremely important for the horse as it is the period where the horse will start to learn to trust people.

7) Events: we organize and participate in dressage and jumping competitions on the island. Last year we had our first successful event and had around 40 horses on the club grounds.

8) We try to operate as green as possible, as such we have installed our own solar installations and we recycle our own horse manure into compost. The horse manure, which is excellent garden fertilizer, can be collected for free by visitors.

3) When did you start horse riding club?

We started 3 years ago but we started on a very small scale as only very basic facilities were ready then. It has been a project in development ever since, but now it is finished. Since then we have built and extended the facilities to the high level which they have today. We wanted to create a place where it is fun and safe to be for the whole day, not only for the riders but also for the whole family. It has a wow factor which is both clean and has a high grade of quality. Now visitors tell us that this horse riding club has become the best and most beautiful horse riding facility of Cyprus. It’s something we are really proud of because we have been working really hard to reach this stage.

4) How did the residents of Amargeti react to your project and did you get any help from them?

In the beginning the residents were a bit skeptical about our wild plans and ideas. We think they were afraid that we would spoil the landscape as it is such a beautiful valley and we are situated on the most gorgeous plot of the valley. However, as we progressed and once the bulldozers and diggers started arriving on the land and started clearing it from 10 years of wild growth of trees and shrubs and bushes, and once they saw that we actually started relocating trees instead of chopping them into pieces, things started to change.

The residents could see that we were serious people who admire nature and take good care of the land and place. As you can see, the club also has a lot of fruit trees (150 or more) and olive trees which are more than

30 years old, and we absolutely wanted to save these while developing this place, as they are so beautiful.

The residents of Amargeti have been of enormous help and have helped us along the way, and wanted our project to succeed, as they could see that it would enhance and bring added value to the area.The residents

of Amargeti are very welcoming people and are always ready to help out when required.

5) How do you conduct the training and from where did you get the horses?

We follow the training principles of Jane Savoie, a highly successful trainer/​mentor and coach in America

who has been training the former American Olympic team for many years. I have followed her courses personally in Miami and keep myself up to date with her latest DVD’s and webinars of live interactive video training sessions on the internet. The main principle of her technique is that you work with the horse and not against it. It is based on praising the horse when it does something right rather than punishing it when it does something wrong. Our head trainer comes highly qualified and has trained at the highest level in the UK and Hong Kong. I give the new novice riders lessons and bring them up to a certain basic level after which they go on to the head trainer. Hereafter the head trainer can bring the rider up to the highest level.

The majority of our horses have come from a private stable on the island and form the core of the school horses. In addition, as the possibilities are limited in Cyprus, we have bought a few untrained young horses on the island and we train them through a special training schedule until they are ready and safe enough

to be used as school horses.

6) Which arena footing do you use?

In the dressage arena we use washed construction sand mixed with geotextile flakes; geotextile is special fabric which absorbs water. We are the only horse riding club in Cyprus which uses geotextile for its footing. It has cut our water usage by at least 75% in order to keep the arena dust free during the hot summer months. In the jumping arena we use a very special type of sand which hardly makes any dust and it is topped up with chipped recycled rubber. It provides the horse with excellent grip and it absorbs the shocks in the horse’s legs while it is doing its jumps over the obstacles in order to avoid leg injury.

Again, we are the only riding club in Cyprus which has this professional type of rubber footing which is used in the top riding schools elsewhere in Europe.

7) Why do you have flood lights around all the arenas?

Some clients have busy day jobs and can only train during evening hours when it’s dark. Through the flood light system we are able to provide training under a fully lit arena. In addition, during the hot summer months we cannot ride between 12pm and 4pm as it’s simply too hot for the horses, so now we can ride the horses in the cooler evening temperatures.

8) Is it expensive to join your club and to ride a horse?

No, our goal is to promote the horse riding sport within in the Paphos region and make it accessible for everyone by having fair and reasonable rates e,g. club membership costs only €25 per year, which will entitle a rider to use all the facilities for free when a member has their own horse in our club or when a new rider will take lessons using our schooled horses. A beginner’s lesson costs only €18.50 when a 10 ride lesson card is purchased. For a detailed description of rates please click here

Furthermore, if someone wishes to have their own horse but does not want to buy one or is considering buying a horse but is not yet sure, they can lease a horse from us on a monthly basis. In doing so the rider will have their own dedicated horse. Depending on the quality of the horse the lease price will vary between €275/​month for a basic level schooled horse up to €600 per month for a top horse, all subject to availability. The biggest expense of the horse sport occurs when a rider is on such a level that they wish to start competing in island wide competitions or abroad, due to the expensive transportation fees involved which is conducted by third parties. However, riders of the same club usually will share the cost of renting a horse trailer suitable for two or more horses for a specific event in order to lower cost. Other people will buy their own horse trailer in order to be totally independent from transport companies.

9) Can someone buy a horse and keep the horse at your stables?

Yes absolutely, it is called a ‘livery service’. The owner can bring any horse or pony to us after which we will feed it, clean its stable and put the horse in the paddock for a couple of hours per day where it can freely walk around.

10) Is it a dangerous sport?

Our motto is SAFETY FIRST! We have designed the club having safety in mind as a first priority. One can say that the sport is no more dangerous than driving a car or riding a bike. When all the rules which are being taught are strictly followed and implemented in the right sequence at the right time then a horse will do exactly what it is supposed to do when the rider wants it. Risks of accident will only increase when a rider will try to make a short-​cut or when they try to do something which they have not yet trained for. We try our utmost to avoid accidents, and luckily, we have not had any accidents since we opened. We enforce strict safety rules, such as everybody most wear protective body gear, like a helmet and flat shoes, preferably boots, and children under 16 must wear a body protector. Furthermore, our training is bottom up, meaning we always start from the very basic by explaining to the rider not only what a rider needs to do in order to ride safely and well, but we also explain to the rider why they should do it, so the rider can understand how a horse thinks and how it functions from a movement point of view.

11) Who is the sport suitable for?

Basically the sport is suitable for everybody from very young to senior people for both male and females.

It is a mixed sport meaning men and women, young and senior ride in the same events. In the beginning it’s

a bit physically demanding when the leg muscles start to workout but that discomfort will disappear after just a couple of lessons. So if you can walk or ride a bike then you can ride a horse too.When new people just start riding they are amazed how technical it actually is and are surprised that one does not have to be strong. They always say that on TV it looks so easy but they forget that horses are animals, they have a strong mind, and love playing around with inexperienced riders. In our club, riders will learn the basics from the start; how to deal with and control all that power. We teach them how a horse thinks, how it moves, what it likes and dislikes, all the way to how the anatomy of a horse works. By knowing all that you will be able to take advantage of a horse’s character which wants to please and wants to work for his boss. By using all that knowledge we are able to make horse riding easy and safe for both the rider and horse, and once something is easy then one can start to really enjoy the sport.

12) Do you have any references which people could check out?

Yes, we actually promote that visitors should write about their experiences with our club on the website of Trip Advisor. As such you are kindly requested to visit the Trip Advisor website and see for yourself. We are proud of our received positive comments.

13) What do I need to start riding in your Club?

Actually not a lot, the only thing we ask new riders is to wear tight pants, tight underwear and flat shoes. We will provide the helmet, the body protector, the horse, the saddle and the headgear and the whip.

14) Who are your current clients?

We are focused on the residents of Paphos and our clientelle is very diverse and have different back grounds of life. It is an even mixture of Cypriots, Russians and British, both men and women and the age varies from age 5 up to very senior.

15) What are your future ambitions?

Due to the geographical location of Cyprus, it is logistically difficult and costly to participate on an international level and as such the level of riding is fairly low in Cyprus when compared to countries like Germany, UK, Holland or Belgium, for example. However, by creating an excellent facility like our club we will hopefully aid in the process of enhancing the level of the sport in Cyprus. Our goal is to have more and more people participate in the sport especially the people from Paphos as up to now people from Paphos have had very limited opportunity to ride safely and professionally. Now our club provides excellent facilities and riders can ride and train up to the same high level as in other European countries.

16) Do you organize competitions?

Yes, last year we had our first successful event and had around 120 entries from all over Cyprus in the club and we received a lot of positive feedback. It was a competition for both dressage and show jumping. Our aim is to organize at least 1 or 2 similar events per year and compete on the highest level in Cyprus with our club riders.

17) Do you organize other events?

We also organize social events for our club members and their families such as social BBQ’s with live music (country and western band). Furthermore, we offer free fruit picking for visitors as we have 150 mature fruit trees which provide tons of oranges, mandarins, apples and apricots or almonds. Furthermore, we welcome visitors who just want to have a drink or a snack in our wonderful clubhouse while watching other riders doing all the action as the clubhouse is centrally located in the middle of the club grounds with breathtaking views all around.

We also conduct dog scootering which is a new dog sport for Cyprus whereby a dog pulls a person on a big step scooter. It’s great exercise for both dog and owner of the dogs. We only do this in the winter months as the temperature needs to be cool.

18) Do you carry out school excursions?

We are in the middle of the process of designing an educational school excursion program whereby we will teach young children how the club operates and teach them the very basics of horse care and riding.

We plan to provide this service within the next 3 months.

19) Why did you locate to Amargeti and what are your opening hours?

Amargeti was chosen as it it’s the most beautiful area within the Paphos region. It has plenty of lush green trees, mountains hills and endless possibilities for hacking. In addition, it is very close to Paphos so it can be easily reached via the highway. We are open 6 days a week (on Mondays it is closed)

20) Is the club yours or do you rent it?

We own the property and have developed it from scratch until its current state.

21) How can you be contacted?

Please use our Contact Us page for all information you need.