THE family building one of the country’s largest equestrian centres hopes to eventually host international horse riding competitions bringing a welcome boost to the North-East economy.

The new indoor arena is taking shape at West Park Farm beside the A68 between Crook and Tow Law in County Durham.

The centre, which is being built with the potential for global competitions in mind, is due to open in the next six to eight weeks.

Loading article content

It is being built by Claire and Dominic Pennick and her parents Joe and Judith Pinkney.

Mrs Pennick, a former show jumper, has been running an equestrian service stable with livery and a riding school at the farm for the past 14 years.

The new arena will be used to host equestrian competitions, such as show jumping and dressage, and Mrs Pennick said it will be a big boost to the area’s economy.

And she also hopes it will be used for other events, from dog shows to machinery fairs, which will add to the number of visitors coming to the site and sing nearby facilities such as hotels, shops and restaurants.

She said: “This is going to be a big, well-finished facility and while we are being realistic about it, our eventual hope is to attract international competitions to hold their events here.”

The main arena’s riding surface measures 34m by 70m, with an attached cafe, toilets and seating for up to 800 people.

There will also be a smaller warm up arena attached with more retractable seating, and a 25m by 75m outdoor paddock.

Mrs Pennick said the arenas’ riding surfaces will be finished to the highest quality with a view to attracting the top riders from around the world.

The centre has already been evaluated by the British Show Jumping Association and is being designed on a scale capable of dealing with large transport containers and hundreds of visitors to one event.

Initially West Park will employ five people, but Mrs Pinkney said there will be more jobs when events are on as well as the knock-on effect to other businesses from an increase in visitors.

She also said West Park want to work with other smaller equestrian centres to increase the strength of the North –East riding scene.

Mrs Pinkney said: “We are very excited about this and have received a lot of support from people in the local area, I would like to thank them for that.”

For more information, search for West Park Equestrian Services on Facebook.