Mary Stitson - Proprietor
BHSII and SM, Stage 4 coach
Mary’s love of horses began as a small child, when her parents moved into Lower Stonehouse Farm and there were already two resident horses called Vanity and Honeymoon. She could often be found cuddling them, completely unaware that a toddler really shouldn’t be alone in a field with horses!
Donkeys were her next love when her mother, Noel, bought two and Mary spent much of her childhood riding and showing them – including jumping. She learnt early on that negotiation could often bring better results than force and she has carried that ethos throughout her riding career.
It wasn’t until she was 9 that she re-found her love of horses and began riding lessons, first at a school in Brown Edge (which has since become a private residence) and then at Trentham Riding school under the strict but thorough eye of Loraine Patrick who had trained at the British Army School of Equitation at Melton Mowbray.
The Cavalry training was tough but it gave Mary the best start to her horse riding career and when she had her own pony, 3 years later, Loraine continued to drill her, but this time in the art of reschooling a horse from scratch. The pony in question was safe but strong, especially when jumping, and knew nothing about correct way of going. Under Loraine's guidance, Mary took the pony back to basics and by the time she outgrew him had achieved marked dressage success both at pony club and in Affliated Dressage competitions at a time when there were few junior competing.
The knowledge Loraine imparted set the tone for what is CFH today. Loraine’s mantra was that correct training – of both the horse and rider – was not something that could be rushed and there are no short cuts. However, when the foundations are laid soundly, the rest follows naturally.
Mary went on to compete in Dressage, Showjumping and Eventing through her teenage years and into her twenties with success in all three disciplines, however, her heart always lay with training of both horses and riders.
In 1989, she qualified as a British Horse Society AI and, during her university years, taught riding and took on “project” horses to fund her studies and after graduation in 1994, she set up Courses for Horses.
The original idea was not to have a riding school, but to offer training courses, horse re-training and to teach people with their own horses. However, it soon became obvious that there was a need for a school which would offer the kind of correct, thorough training which Mary had been given by Loraine and so, in 1995, the yard became licensed as a riding school and in 1997, was awarded the status of BHS Approved Training Centre.
Since then, she has built the business up from what was basically a Moorland Farm with one, small outdoor arena and a couple of horses to what it is today with 3 schools, 24 horses and 10 members of staff.
Since starting the riding school, she has continued to further her knowledge and has gained further BHS qualifications, including the Prestigious Stable Manager’s Certificate and also is an NLP Practitioner, specialising in Confidence Training. She follows Classical Training Principles and has ridden to Grand Prix, although time-constraints mean that she is only currently able to compete for pleasure.
Her ethos is that, no matter what level the rider, their aims and ambitions, she is happy to take them where they want to go: whether that be to simply ride better, improve their skills and knowledge or gain BHS qualifications or competitive success.
Mary is available for lessons, training and assessments on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, either with school horses or on your own.