Congleton: 01260 270 817
Warrington: 01925 599080
10 August 2021



Newly opened in 2020, Higher Farm is the fastest growing equestrian centre in the North West. It’s right on our doorsteps, based here in Cheshire.

The vision of Laura Clarke and her family, Higher Farm, Byley, nr Middlewich, was previously a dairy farm, has now provided an excellent base on which to build their equestrian dream.

Laura explains, ‘the transformation from dairy farm to top-class equestrian facility began back in the summer of 2020. We started by addressing our grazing needs. Then installing 5 miles of fencing and re-seeding 60 of the 123 acres. This was with an equestrian appropriate seed mix, then the remaining space was used to grow potatoes. Horses have different grazing requirements to cows, as they need lower sugar content in the grass, to protect from issues such as laminitis. Consequently, once this was addressed, we could take customers on our grass and track livery, and we were off.’

‘With the support of local groundworks business, ASHBROOK, we were able to install 3000m of track around the farm and repair a further 3500m. This has involved laying both recycled concrete sleepers, sand and hardcore tracking. The sand tracking has created excellent off-road hacking. This includes an hour loop along the river Dane, and the space for fittening work. The hardcore and concrete areas allow us to move freely and more easily around the centre in the winter months.’

Laura then adds, ‘the 1st October 2020 saw us open our riding school, which has expanded quickly, and currently provides over 90 group and private lessons, each week, to adults and children from a wide range of abilities.’

‘Summer 2021 has seen us open our equine rehabilitation and therapy unit, featuring state-of-the-art water treadmill and combi-floor duo. We welcome horses and ponies on a session or livery basis. We have already had fabulous take up from individuals and vet practices from around the north west.’

ASHBROOK machines and groundwork

James Ashbrook, MD, explains ‘whilst the field work was occurring, ASHBROOK were also busy installing the indoor and outdoor ménages. In addition, after we’d finished laying the groundworks and drainage, 47 purpose-built livery stables were erected by AC Jackson. These were quickly joined by a hot wash area, solarium, and horse walker.’

‘2021 has been an extremely busy year for us, so in order to complete the therapy centre work we had to use our 1,000th CAT machine, which had previously been used as ‘office decoration’ in our purpose-built offices at Sommerford. The CAT 308 Compact Radius (CR) New Generation excavator was put to good use excavating the pit for the water treadmill. This section contains the recycled water from the treadmill. It was also excellent for levelling the floor for the rehabilitation stabling.’

‘Additional work has also been completed down by the river. Using an ASHBROOK Cat 320 Next Gen digger to reinforce the banks and help protect the natural habitats.’

The Cheshire Farms Award

Laura concludes, ‘after nearly 12months in business, which has included facing two national lockdowns, as well as the usual trials and tribulations that come with starting a new business, we are extremely pleased to announce that we have won the Cheshire County Farms Competition in the equestrian category.

To compete in the equestrian category the judges are looking for the business to clearly demonstrate, excellent, customer appropriate, management of the stables, associated facilities, and land with a view to creating the greatest economic production available.

The judge, Christine Lockyer, was particularly taken with the high specification of the work being undertaken and the vision for the future. This vision will see, not only the needs of equestrian customers delivered in abundance but is also beginning to offer eco-therapy and support packages to children and adults in need.

Christine concludes, ‘this is an impressive setup and even though the facilities would suit a professional, there is a warm welcome to the pony club, young riders, and their families. A very worthy winner’.

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