Ross Atherton Nye 13/01/1927 to 03/08/2020
Ross Nye, proprietor of Ross Nye Stables on the North side of Hyde Park, died on Monday 3 August at the age of 93.
Ross established a riding school in 1965, teaching both adults and children horsemanship and riding to a high level, and although not a physical presence in the Park for the last 15 years, this legacy continues.
Born in Brisbane, Queensland, to a medical family, Ross was too young to fight with his older brothers in the Second World War. Following demobilisation, he left university to spend time as a Jackaroo in the Outback. He then joined his oldest brother Bill to run a family cattle station in North Queensland, north of the Atherton Tableland (an area explored by his pioneer great grandfather John Atherton). Managing this enormous area on horseback provided Ross with the basis to the horsemanship skills he used throughout his life.
This harsh outback life embedded a life-long “solution finding” attitude. When coupled with determination to develop in any direction, his framework of standards and natural fortitude, Ross achieved in all decades of his life: through the early years in Australia, his professional equestrian career in London and his later life as landowner in Surrey.
Ross met Ruth Farren-Price during those demanding North Queensland years, when he was recovering from tonsillectomy at the family home. Their whirlwind romance with engagement after two weeks was thought to be doomed for failure by their families: instead, the delicate (but strong!) pianist and the hardened bushman were married for 63 outstanding years of partnership. Ruth’s music career took them from Australia to the USA, on invitation to study with Claudio Arrau; then to England where they settled and their lives grew, each supporting the other throughout the different chapters of their lives.
The arrival of an Australian bushman into the very English environment of Hyde Park had long-reaching effects. A great achievement, in the early days, was to encourage all the different equestrian users of the Park to communicate and co-operate with each other for their continued mutual benefit: private horse owners, riding stables and clubs, the Mounted Police, Household Cavalry and the Royal Mews coachmen. Ross promoted the survival of the privately-owned riding schools, the extension of riding tracks around the Park and the improvement of their upkeep, the construction of the two outdoor teaching arenas.
The London stables have long been recognised as being outstandingly well run and gained British Horse Society approval in 1969. Ross Nye himself was for many years an active member of the BHS Approvals Committee, and his knowledge - and the example of his own stables - have been instrumental in setting up other urban riding centres, in London and elsewhere.
In 1968 he initiated Hyde Park Horsemen's Sunday - a 'spin off' from the annual Blessing of the Horses that occurred at Epsom Racecourse from 1947 until 2008. The London ceremony took place outside a local Church, with the vicar mounted on one of the stables’ horses. It ran annually for 50 years, until 2017.
In 1972, Ross Nye Stables horses and ponies were, at his suggestion, the first 'normal' riding school horses to be used by local branches the newly-formed Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA). This provided London’s disabled children and adults the opportunity to ride locally without having to travel out of the city to specialist centres. The stable still provides mounts for three different RDA branches in Central London.
In 1983, Ross set up the Hyde Park Riding Club for the adult clients, to expand their equestrian horizons beyond a weekly canter on Rotten Row. Stable management courses, the chance to compete against other Riding Clubs, social evenings, lectures, and outings to Badminton Horse Trials and Olympia Show Jumping Spectacular soon filled the city riders' calendars.
It was a great honour to be asked, in 1989, to open a Branch of the Pony Club based at the stables. This was the first branch not to be connected with a hunt - the first to be established at a commercial business. The Pony Club recognised the high standards of instruction that regular riders received; despite not owning their own ponies, and often only riding once a week, the children learn practical and theoretical equestrian skills to an advanced level.
Ross Nye received the British Horse Society Award of Merit in 1995, in recognition of outstanding services to riding, and the Cubitt Award from the Pony Club in 2007.
Ruth and Ross bought their property, Longfrey Farm, near Guildford, in 1977, when Ross was aged 50. His hard work and dedication led to the transformation of the land and the facilities. This enabled him to offer an added dimension to the lives and experience of the urban horses and riders, who love visiting and riding in the Surrey countryside.
Ross influenced the lives of many people, through his memorable handshake and his enduring personality. His daughter, Kirsty Anthony, joined him as partner in the business; their ideas to develop and sustain horsemanship in an ever-changing London environment means that Ross Nye Stables has just celebrated 55 years and is still a feature of the Hyde Park activity.