Tel: 01728 746916
The Camargue Café and picnic area
About Valley Farm
Valley Farm Equestrian Leisure is primarily a riding school, located in Wickham Market, Suffolk, United Kingdom. At the riding school a diverse range of equestrian sports and disciplines are taught, including carriage driving, natural horsemanship, vaulting, horseball, western riding, polo, polocrosse, dressage, show jumping, cross country, le trec, horse agility and stable management.
Valley Farm in situated just to the North of Wickham Market, and is bordered by the River Deben. The Farm is owned and managed by Sarah Robertson. Sarah moved to Valley Farm in 1976 when she first married. Sarah had always had an interest in all things equestrian, and having trained in South Africa at the famous Blue Hills yard, she was very keen to pursue an equestrian career. She soon aquired ponies for herself and her children, and began teaching carriage driving, vaulting and riding. The business originally traded as Valley Farm Riding and Driving Centre, but as it diversified to include more activities the name was changed to Valley Farm Equestrian Leisure.
In 1988 from 11th to 15th August, three children from Valley Farm's team competed in the World Vaulting Championships in Ebrichsdorf, Austria. Following their sucess, and a developing interest in the sport Sarah hosted a number of International and National vaulting competitions at Valley Farm.
After finding out about the sport of horseball at a vaulting competition held in Paris in 1989, Valley Farm had the horseball rule book translated into English, and started training teams to play this new and exciting sport. Britain's 1st national horseball tournament was hosted by Valley Farm on 1st September 1991, with teams taking part from North London, Nottingham, Suffolk and Norfolk.
In 1990 Britains first breeding Camargue Horses were imported to Valley Farm from France. Camargue Horses are a rare breed of ancient horse from the Rhone Delta in the South of France. It was thought that these small horses would feel at home on the Deben Marshes, and that their temperaments would be suitable for all the activities at the riding school. Especially Western Riding and Carriage Driving.
The very first Camargue horse to be born in the UK was called Fabriqué en Angleterre. He was born at Valley Farm on February 13th 1993 out of Cantarello and by Coquin des Clauzals.
British Camargue Horse Society
The British Camargue Horse Society was established by Valley Farm in 1990 in order to promote the breeding of Camargue Horses, and to maintain a studbook of British Bred Camargue Horses and to act as a passport issuing authority.
Throughout the 1990's riders from Valley Farm competed throughout the UK at Western Horseman's Association shows. Valley Farm hosted annual summer and winter shows, and qualified several horses for the championships.
Carriage Driving and Weddings
Sarah is qualified in private driving, but has also had a lifelong interest in agricultural horses. She has driven singles, pairs, unicorns, teams, and has taught a huge number of people and horses to drive. Driving horses from Valley Farm have been used for weddings and film work.
Valley Farm held their first Summer Pony Camp in 1986. Valley Farm now hosts holidays for around 32 children every week during the Summer Holidays. Chilldren come from all over Europe, and from as far as Japan and the United States. A number of schools also attend these activity camps in the weeks preceeding the Summer Holidays. This provides a valuable opportunity to educate hundreds of young equine enthusiasts in a huge range of horsey sports.
Many of those who started at Valley Farm have gone on to great things. For instance Penny Bourne who became a WHA western Judge, Lee Rutter who was pert of the Bronze Medal winning team at the FEI European Reining Championships in 2009. Merlyn Forrer, international vaulter, and Amanda Ling, British Vaulting Champion 1988. Several of our customers are now running their own sucessful yards. (if you would like to be mentioned here, let us know!)
Valley Farm has always had close assoiations with the Pony Club. Both of Sarah's children were members of the Easton Harriers Pony Club. Valley Farm itself is now a registered Pony Club Centre. This means that even children who do not own their own ponies can join in with all the Pony Club activities, and earn internationally recognised qualifications.
The Camargue Café opened in the 1996 and has at times been let to other people and at times been run by Valley Farm staff. If you think you might have the skills required to take on this part of the business, let us know. We love cooking, but horses is where our interests really lie, so we would be happy to let it again tho the right person.
Sarah has always been passionate about all animals, and over the years has collected a variety of animals requiring homes for various reasons. Everything from stick insects to stray cats, ducks and geese to llamas and camels. All these animals quickly became part of the family, and have been adored by the public. Some notable ones included: Baa Baa the sheep who enjoyed carriage driving like a horse, and used to come into the house like a dog and Teddy the Boxer dog, who became a world wide celebrity after IKEA started selling posters of him wearing goggles, riding in the Bugatti Sports car.
Sarah has been a freelance writer for a number of magazines. She wrote a column for several years for Farmers Guide magazine all about the antics at Valley Farm. She has also written a book, which is available to purchase from the Equestrian centre, and several local book shops.
Campsite and Holiday Lodge
As more people got to know about Valley Farm, it became necessary to provide accommodation for those who wanted to stay for longer, and those who lived too far away for a day visit, so in 2010 the Campsite was opened.