The owner of a Halifax riding school is hoping for a more stable future after nearly being forced to give up the business earlier this year.
Gayle Dunleavy and her partner Darren Luty, who live in Queensbury, opened Meadow View Stables near Ogden Water last April, but after a successful summer, the business had to close in December due to their 14 horses developing strangles.
The contagious disease can be transferred between horses by humans or other animals, meaning the business was forced to close for three months during the incubation period.
“It’s your worst nightmare in our industry,” said Gayle. “Our lives revolved around going from stable to stable in coveralls and rubber gloves disinfecting them, but having to disinfect ourselves between each stable. But after three weeks we thought ‘why not just let them have it and get it out of their system’ because once a horse contracts it, they can’t get it again.
“Each horse had it for two or three weeks but around February we thought ‘when are we going to be able to re-open?’ because we couldn’t keep going much longer. Friends and family were amazing in the help they provided but they can only help you so much, but thankfully the horses started recovering.”
It was the second big hurdle Gayle has faced after going bankrupt from her first riding school.
“I learned a lot from that, such as asking for help and advice and not taking on staff too early.
“I tried to do everything concerned with running the business on my own but I din’t know anything about payrolls or things like that.
“So I ended up without a business and in debt, but I’m a fighter - or I’m mad - and started again. I’ve got a really good partner in Darren who built everything from scratch, and I’ve spent 10 years gaining qualifications to become a British Horse Society Assistant Instructor, so I’m happy with how it’s going.”
Gayle is hoping to start riding for disabled clients soon and begin an affiliation with The Pony Club offering certificates for children, and road safety training.
The stables will host an Easter open day on April 13 from 1pm to 4pm.