The first riders will step out this morning (Thursday August 30th) from Traigh Mhor Pony Trekking, a new company in Tolsta.

Run by biology teacher Leigh Minion with help of her husband Gavin and daughter Kirsty Hart, the riding and trekking centre has been a dream for many years.

An inspection yesterday (Wednesday August 29th) by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar passed the premises and business for public safety and for the welfare of the horses, and both Leigh and Kirsty have also recently gained certification as ride leaders from the Trekking and Riding Society for Scotland.

Leigh said: "We have been really well-supported by the riding stables at Balivanich in Benbecula, who have given us training, encouragement, advice and moral support. I really think we wouldn't have been able to do it without them."

The croft is home to four horses and ponies, three ready to use now for riding lessons. 18-year-old black cob mare Ginti is the 'schoolmistress' and has just returned to Leigh after two years on the mainland, rejoining her old stablemates as if she had never been away.

Her companions are Oakie, a dun American quarter-horse, a utility breed with a good nature and stamina, and Six, a five-year-old gelding broken and trained by Leigh and Kirsty and keen on jumping and dressage.  All the horses are gentle-natured and suitable for beginners.

Traigh Mhor trekking will offer lessons, treks and slightly more demanding hacks, plus a Saturday saddle club for kids and a midweek riding group for adults. Meeting every Wednesday, that small group will learn about stable management, feeding, grooming and, of course, enjoy a ride in company with other adults. The routes they take will include moorland around Tolsta and beach rides along Traigh Mhor and Garry beach.

Leigh said: "Please don't think that around the village is a boring old plod. We have miles of tracks on the common grazing and onto the moorland." With everything set up for tomorrow's business launch, Leigh is in a state of considerable excitement.

"I've always had a passion for horses and even as a kid I had a dream of owning horses and a stable. This is the dream coming true for me!"

You can find out more about the routes, prices and booking from the new website www.tolsta41.com

Picture shows Leigh with Ginti (left), Six and Oakie ready for their first customers