Wellington Riding Centre Invests in Kubota 

Visit the popular Wellington Riding centre on any day of the week and, amidst all the equestrian related activity, you will almost certainly spot an orange tractor darting to and fro. From shifting large jumps to simply delivering hay, it has a modest behind the scenes role to play in a large public facing business. Yet its overall contribution is vital, as is its constant availability. 

The tractor in question is a Kubota M125Gx with an MX loader, together sourced from Lister Wilder’s Reading depot just down the road from Wellington Riding’s famous establishment at Stratfield Saye on the Hampshire / Berkshire border. 

While officially classed as a compact tractor with all the attendant manoeuvrability, the M125Gx actually packs quite a punch from the largest four-cylinder engine in its class. Given its long wheelbase, it achieves balanced and reliable handling even at high towing capacity or when operating heavy implements. When partnered with a French-made MX loader, it becomes endlessly versatile. 

Wellington Riding is one of the UK’s major equestrian venues but stands out from the pack by virtue of the sheer breadth of activities – from teaching a five-year old to ride right the way through to running major international showjumping competitions while also offering holidays with horses.

It is one of a multiplicity of businesses spread across the glorious 7,000 acres of the Wellington Estate that was gifted to the first Duke in 1817 by a grateful nation after his famous victory at the Battle of Waterloo. With the elegant Stratfield Saye House as its centrepiece, the modern face of the estate also encompasses a country park and campsite, fitness venue, farm shop / cafe and more. It’s a place to truly enjoy a family day in the country.

The Facilities Manager at Wellington Riding is Irishman Conan Rowan, whose experience in the equestrian world spans nearly 40 years and includes eventing and show jumping at international level. He also has extensive experience as a TV commentator and has even appeared in the Mel Gibson movie ‘Braveheart’! While fulfilling a key role as a senior instructor at Wellington Riding, Conan can turn his hand to just about anything – from fixing the IT to piloting the  busy Kubota to move jumps. 

“We have to operate to some tight schedules and are constantly stripping down arenas and building new ones plus a great deal more,” says Conan.  We wanted a tractor that would do essentially what it says on the tin – and most of all to be reliable. 

“It has got to be foolproof to suit the needs of a team that won’t always ‘do’ technical. It has also to be versatile. One minute it may be taking haylage into the barn, the next, with its loader forks in place. moving large jumps weighing 700 kilos, pulling a trailer of jumps into an arena or moving muck to a heap down the road. At specific times of year it will have the toppers on for grassland management, or it may be hauling a roller.

“It may only run for six or seven hours on a busy day and much less than that on other days, but it must always be available. Reliability is everything. If I have a competition with 200 participants on a Sunday morning and it breaks down then I can’t operate. It’s that simple. Unlike some tractor owners, I can’t be delayed for a couple of hours; if there is a problem I have to be able to pick up a phone and get it sorted immediately. The support from Lister Wilder is excellent. Graham Merritt (Area Sales Manager) helped us get the right spec at the outset, and if anything does go wrong I can pick up the phone and Jack Huckstep is right there and gets it sorted without delay.”

The Kubota has taken over from another leading brand that proved a lot less reliable through a series of breakdowns and a recurring brake problem. “It also had lot of electronics that we didn’t need,” says Conan. “I wanted a tractor that was simple and functional, could do the jobs I needed it to do and had the benefit of good back-up.”

He adds: “I am impressed with the Kubota, especially the carrying and pulling capacity. The lads on the estate borrowed it to move a 14-tonne digger recently using a three-axle trailer and it was quite happy.”