HRH The Princess Royal opens Caithness equestrian centre

HRH The Princess Royal, Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, will officially open North Highland College UHI’s new equestrian centre in Caithness today (Wednesday).

Staff and students began using the purpose-built facility, situated approximately six miles from the main campus in Thurso, in September 2012.

Gordon Jenkins, Principal of North Highland College UHI said: “The staff, students and Board of North Highland College UHI are very much looking forward to welcoming The Princess Royal to the college. We are delighted that she has agreed to perform the official opening of our new land-based education campus at Dale Farm in her official capacity as Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

“The Princess Royal has maintained a keen interest in our equestrian curriculum over the years. We are grateful for the opportunity to showcase our new facility and associated curriculum developments, including the introduction of our new BA degree in Equine Business Management”.

The Princess Royal will meet past and present students in their new teaching facilities in the specially adapted former farm in Halkirk. She will also visit the stables and indoor arena where she will see a demonstration by riders and horses from both the college and the community.

There are currently a total of 45 full-time students enrolled on equestrian programmes ranging from National Certificate to BA degree.

The Princess Royal’s visit, in her capacity as Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands will mark the completion of works at the site - which now boasts international-sized outdoor and indoor arenas, a tack room, 20 purpose-built loose boxes as well as two high specification classrooms and modern office suites.

A full range of courses are now being offered at the equestrian centre, including the National Certificate Horse Care and Higher National Certificate Equine Studies, Higher National Diploma Equine Studies and Bachelor of Arts Equine Business Management

In addition, college staff have established strong links with stables across the country to run the Equestrian Skills Flexible Study programme throughout the Highlands & Islands and beyond, including: Aberdeen, Angus, Argyll, Badenoch, Caithness, East Lothian, Easter Ross, Fife, Fort William, Inverness, Moray, Nairn, Orkney, Strathspey, Wester Ross, Shetland, Sutherland, Skye and Western Isles.

The college is aiming to make the centre the number one destination to study equine courses in the UK, and students who have qualified there have already gone on to work at top stables including the likes of Skibo Castle and The Lewitz Stud run by Paul Schockemöhle in Germany.