I have now finished my accounts, Holiday Club is behind me and I have therefore nothing to prevaricate about at all and no reason whatsoever for not getting on with wrestling some sense into my great thoughts about Ruby Ferguson but I think like a horse turned out to pasture for the first time in the spring the freedom from duty has gone to my head, and my head has turned to the Cadogan Riding School, about which it wishes to know more.
The Cadogan Riding School was one of the major riding schools of the inter-war period. The Cadogan School taught beginners through to advanced riders; jumping, driving and evening classes. The school's premises were at the back of what is now the Carlton Tower, in Cadogan Lane. Besides this central London branch, it had offshoots at Richmond, and a hunting stables at Holyport, Maidenhead, which was managed in the 1920s by Dick Francis' father. Horace Smith, the owner, taught the Queen and Princess Margaret to ride.
I still haven't managed to find a picture of the Cadogan school's indoor riding school (I do not know why I am so obsessed by this, but I am). I have, however, tracked down an article Horace Smith, owner of the School, wrote for the first issue of Riding Magazine, which appeared in June 1936. In this he recommends that beginners spend at least six weeks learning in the indoor school before they are allowed out into the open. The picture below shows Mr Smith returning from a ride out in the Park, at, presumably, the Cadogan Riding School.
The present Queen and Princess Margaret were lucky to be taught by him: I wish some of my early riding teachers had followed Mr Smith's dictum:
"The art of teaching lies in a good judgment of psychology; in knowing just how far to go, in giving confidence to the pupil by combining kindness with discipline, and by always being careful to see that when the pupils have finished their less on they leave the school with a happy memory."
The picture below of one of Mr Smith's lessons exudes regimented calm:
The picture must have been taken in the indoor school, but none of the interior details are shown, alas. The Cadogan Riding School was the last Central London school to have an indoor riding arena, and this and most of the school's buildings fell victim to the Blitz during the Second World War. The school did return to London, albeit in a reduced form, after the Second World War, and was finally closed when the pressure of traffic between the school's buildings in Cadogan Lane, and the entrance of Hyde Park which it used at Albert Gate became too much. The School then operated out of Holyport until it closed in the 1970s.
As a nod to my current obsession with the indoor riding school, here is an advertisement for a riding school in Kingsbury; still in London but a fair distance away from central London, which appeared in the same issue of Riding as Mr Smith's article. I don't feel the same pull of obsession about this one, so far, at least. Jolly smart school though.
Riding Magazine, June 1936
Joyce Bellamy, Hyde Park for Horsemanship, J A Allen, 1975