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Farmer aims to jump-start riding facilities

AN East Lothian farmer is vying for a place on the equestrian map with plans to build three arenas and create the biggest horse-riding facility in the east of Scotland.

James Cunningham of Sunnyside Farm, near Haddington has applied for planning permission to build a large indoor arena and two outdoor arenas at an estimated cost of £500,000.

This would greatly enhance the farm's existing operation, Sunnyside Equestrian, run by Matthew and Emily Foster and including stables, horse sales and riding.

Cunningham said: "There will be something for everyone, whether showjumping, dressage or eventers. We will hold competitions, demonstrations and clinics, as well as just hiring out the facilities for people to come and ride."

He said that the centre would not be on the same scale as central Scotland's big three sites - at Rowallan in Ayrshire, Ingliston Country Club at Bishopton, and the Scottish National Equestrian Centre (SNEC) in West Lothian - but would firmly put his part of the country on the map for the first time.

"Further east from SNEC and right down to Newcastle there's nothing much at all, just indoor riding schools and small facilities that were never meant for commercial use. We are hoping there's a gap in the market. We've had a lot of support from riding clubs saying they would use our facilities."

Cunningham intends to have the arenas built by August and next year wants to add a café and tack shop. "Hopefully people will be attracted by the experience of coming down here."

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