SHARE
Lots to do . . . Dunstan Equestrian Centre life members Maureen Maxwell (left) and Jeanette McKay with centre president Bernie Macdonald reflect on the successes of the centre since it opened in 1999. PHOTO: NICOLE SHARP

Horse riders from all disciplines have been part of the Dunstan Equestrian Centre since its inception in 1999.

Maureen Maxwell and Jeanette McKay were two of the centre’s founding members and, as recognition for their work, were awarded life memberships at the AGM recently.

Mrs Maxwell represented the Clyde Pony Club and Mrs McKay the Dunstan Adult Riding Club when they joined members of the Alexandra Trotting Club, Central Otago Hunt Club and Central Otago Riding for the Disabled to create the Dunstan Equestrian Centre on July 29, 1999.

The centre, on Dunstan Rd, on Central Otago District Council reserve land, was originally used by the trotting club as a racetrack, Mrs McKay said.

Races were held each New Year’s Day, and once the races meetings came to an end, the land needed a use.

Mrs McKay said the groups joined together to form a committee got to work to create the equestrian centre.

“The stables and the buildings were the only thing here.”

The committee built an all-weather arena, which had been the biggest accomplishment the two life members had been involved with, they said.

Members travelled the country and overseas to inspect other arenas and bring some ideas back for the Dunstan facility.

The Dunstan arena was officially opened in 2001 with the first gymkhana held the following year.

At the same time, Mrs Maxwell became certified to do horse measuring for the Royal Agricultural Society

Centre president Bernie Macdonald said there had been many projects completed at the centre in the past 15 years, which it had funded a lot of itself.

The former racetrack was leased for grazing, which contributed to a lot of upgrades, he said.

The centre also received grants from Pub Charity for various projects and held regular “Have a Go Day” fundraisers, run by the Clyde Pony Club.

More recent achievements of the centre had been the erection of a rabbit-proof fence around the grazing paddocks, which had involved many hours, Mrs McKay said.

The centre volunteers had been given an extra hand, with people completing community service coming out to the centre and doing odd jobs, Mrs Maxwell said.

“We are always looking for more volunteers.”

The centre was now installing a dust suppression system in the arena, Mr Macdonald said.

Future projects would include upgrades to the centre’s buildings, Mrs Maxwell said.

Every project which needed to be completed at the centre was on a priority list.

Mrs McKay and Mrs Maxwell have seen many projects take place and they are likely to be involved in many to come.

When asked what had kept the life members involved with the centre from the beginning, the answer had been simple – passionate people.

“It’s just the passion we all have,” they said.