A HORSE riding school which was hit hard by the pandemic - and even lost horses - has been nominated for a prestigious prize.

Ryders Farm Equestrian Centre in Kearsley has been nominated in the large riding school of the year category at an upcoming awards ceremony.

The farm suffered badly during the pandemic, with heavy losses and risks of permanent closure.

Two horses also had to be put down last year, as their inactivity led them to become lame, while many others have lost muscle and put on weight.

But the riding school is looking to bounce back and owner Sarah Fitton has expressed her delight at being nominated.

The 2021 SEIB Insurance Brokers Livery Yard and Riding School of the Year Awards is celebrating excellence in teaching, training and horse care.

She said: “We were nominated by our customers and we are so glad that the awards has put us in the final few.

“We are really chuffed and just over the moon. The last 15 months have been really tough and we are happy that we are seeing more and more people.

“So many people have worked hard to help look after the horses and they all have done so much.”

While Sarah said things were getting better, she has noticed more people are self-isolating, as people are venturing out more and receiving contacts from the NHS Track and Trace service.

She said: “The amount of people who can’t go riding because they are self-isolating is much more than it was during lockdown.

“However, that is because people are going out more and it means that they are coming into contact with the virus and being told to self-isolate. Things are getting better but it is something that stops us being at full flow.”

The awards was due to take place at the end of June, but has been pushed back until September.

Sarah added: “The thing we have really missed most is the kids and we had a lot of teens who came down to help us at weekends who can do so again. It has just been so nice having everyone back.”