Welcome to Contessa Riding Centre LLP


Situated in 50 acres of beautiful Hertfordshire countryside and within easy reach of London and Cambridge, Contessa Riding Centre is a Riding and Training centre specialising in Dressage.

Contessa was voted third Best Riding School in Europe 2006 – the highest placed British entry. Contessa is approved by the British Horse Society and the Association of British Riding Schools. A BHS ‘Where to Train’ centre, rated A5 able to train candidates up to BHSI, it is also one of only a few centres in the UK to offer the ABRS Advanced Teaching Diploma.

Proprietor Tina Layton-Elliott BHSI has competed to Grand Prix level and ridden internationally on her mare Pik Dame who she trained from a three year old to Grand Prix. She has always worked to a classical method of training that she works to instil in all her Instructors and students. The philosophy at Contessa is to strive to create harmony between horse and rider and to work as a partnership with the horse.

Co-proprietor Sheila Layton, Tina’s mother, has been an integral part of the running of Contessa since it opened in 1977. She is deeply involved in the ABRS and was made a fellow of the society in 2006 and more recently was awarded a MBE for her services to the equine industry. Sheila manages the administration at Contessa and handles the holiday bookings.

Contessa is able to offer excellent tuition on a variety of well-mannered and well-schooled horses for riders of all levels, from experienced riders to complete beginners. Contessa is able to offer lessons in Show Jumping even though we specialise in Dressage. For more details on the lessons Contessa offers, please visit the lessons pages.

Contessa boasts excellent facilities including a 20mx40m indoor school with mirrors and a 20mx60m outdoor school with a jump lane.

The events calendar is brimming with activities and courses covering many aspects of riding and horse care. Specialist day courses give riders the chance to learn or improve various aspects of their riding, from how to ride a dressage test, to lateral work or riding in a double bridle. There are also short courses in lunging, in-hand work, western, vaulting and side saddle. John Bowen and John Adams visit regularly to give Dressage and Show Jumping clinics.

Contessa is a Pony Club centre which allows young riders that do not have their own ponies to benefit from the structured training that the Pony Club offers, including badges, tests and rallies. Pony Days run throughout the school holidays. Contessa offers a range of courses for exam students, including exam preparation days, stable management days and teaching/coaching assessments.

We look forward to welcoming you to Contessa and assisting you in your riding ambitions.

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Advanced Schoolmaster Lessons

Schoolmasters up to Grand Prix level available for lessons upon assessment. Call or email to book.


Holidays at Contessa

Whether you ride just for fun or want to do some intensive training, join us for a holiday at Contessa.