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In 1938 Captain Collings was appointed joint secretary with Mr. Alan Stoddart, of The Devon and Somerset Staghounds, which he held until Sepember 1939. He had been on the Committee of of the Dunster Show and steward of the riding classes and had often appeared there as an exhibitor.

In 1937 Captain Collings joined the Somerset Light Infantry and in 1940 he sailed, with the Regiment to Palestine as part of the 1st Cavalry division. During 1944 while in Italy Tony Collings was made an M.B.E and was afterwards mentioned in despatches for galantry and distinguished services in that country. Before the war ended he saw further service in Belgium and Germany. In the autumn of 1945, after being demobed from the Light Infantry Captain Collings returned to Porlock Vale riding School which was to go on to assend in the Equestrian world even before it was chosen for the venue of the training of the Olympic Three Day Event team in 1952.

A great number of young people from the Dominions, the USA and the European Continent had come there as riding pupils and under the able tuition of Captain Collings had learnt the secret of happy riding and successful stable and horse management.

Equestrian jamborees, held each summer at the centres attracted many riders from overseas as well as from all parts of the UK. This was one of the inervations which Captain Collings introduced to heighten the appeal and tutorial value of these centres. His own personal charm and likeable disposition made him very popular with all who knew him.

Porlock Vale Riding School originated on 2 sites. The Tanyard and Vale Yard, both on the same site in the village of Porlock. The pupils here were overseen by a stud groom in each yard, Mr. Bill Yandle, in The Tanyard and Mr. Jim Ffitch in the Vale Yard. The second centre was at Porlockford House, in the hamlet of West Porlock, some one and a half miles to the West.

Many of the new pupils were a little apprehensive before meeting Mr. Ffitch who was a tall, slightly built man always impeccably dressed. After the initial meeting most pupils found him to be utterly charming a real old fashioned stud groom with endless patience and a sense of humor. Mr. Ffitch managed to control his bunch of high spirited and sometimes wild students with a firm but kindly hand. The students soon found out that they would not get away with anything as Mr. Ffitch’s eagle eye missed nothing. The Tanyard was the original home of the Working Pupils and The Vale Yard the home of The Horsemasters.

Children were catered for in a "small" way at the Tanyard. There were Pony stables, where everything was done in miniature. This was expertly organized by Helen ( known to all as Tommy) Greenwood. All the leading rein classes were instructed by this lady.

A high proportion of the accommodation in Porlock was taken up by the school, which was the major employer in the village. Most of the pupils stayed at the Gables and managed to get on well together but on one course there was a girl who appeared to have little or no sense of humour and just didn’t fit in.

One day there was an argument which resulted in this girl being dumped in a cold bath. The boys on the course thought it was highly funny and the laughter could not be contained. The owner of the Gables summoned Tony Collings.

Tony arrived, complete with riding boots and spurs. Gathering all the students in the sitting room he proceeded to tell them all off. During his oration he had his back to the fire and at the height of the lecture his spurs caught in the grate surrounding the fire. As Tony moved to leave he went sprawling. The students found this amazingly funny and from feeling rather ashamed of their behaviour they all got the giggles. Moving to help Tony up they found that he was laughing nearly as much as they were.

Porlockford House, some one and a half miles to the west and now the home of Tony's parents was the base for Equitation courses and Special weekly courses. The Equitation Course students had their horses looked after by professional grooms who turned the horses out to a very high standard. In later years it became policy for the students who were completing the Horsemasters or Working Pupils courses to do this work.

There was one large covered school at Porlockford and two smaller ones in the Tanyard. Indoor schools were practically unknown in the U. K in 1946.

Capt. Tony Collings was considered to be a great horseman, with a charming character, good sense of humour and reasonable patience. He did however, demand hard work.

(C) Jacqueline Peck 2000
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