Tribute to the Riding Rileys, legendary Casino horse riders
LEGENDS are not lost and siblings Bob and Beryl Riley are remembered in the horse community for their riding skills and the many people they taught.
Beryl Chick, as she was known, died last month, aged 97. She had already suffered a stroke at age 54 and spent six weeks in rehabilitation in Lismore yet she overcame a weakened right arm and leg to get back in the saddle. She went on to compete in dressage riding.
Born in Hotham St in Casino, Bob and Beryl were two of six children for Joseph and Ellen (Alvos) Riley. The family moved to dairy farms at Amarina and then Piora, both near Casino.
Bob and Beryl followed in their father's footsteps with their riding skills, training of horses and expert whip cracking.
Beryl met her first husband, Ken Huntley, at the Kyogle Show and joined his vaudeville rodeo show. On her horse, Paint, Beryl thrilled crowds with buck jumps, whip cracking and stunt jumps through a hoop of fire or swords. In 1941, Beryl and Ken took their show around Australia and New Zealand.
Bob's work took him across NSW, Queensland and Victoria, breaking in horses and accompanying train loads of cattle from Casino for T.W. McCormack.
After three years of their show in New Zealand, Ken died suddenly at 45 years of age. Within weeks, Beryl's loved horse Paint died, too. Bob rushed to New Zealand to help Beryl settle Ken's estate. Beryl then met her second husband, George Chick, and they ran a corner milk bar.
By 1972, Beryl and George, with Beryl's mother Ellen, moved to a small farm at Woodlawn near Lismore. Beryl began riding again and helped to establish the North Coast Riders Association. Bob moved closer to Casino in 1983 and continued working with horses until he was 85.
In 1991, Beryl and George relocated to Casino. Even when George died of a heart attack in 2002, Beryl continued to ride.
Bob and Beryl epitomise courage and determination. Bob had lost three fingers in Papua New Guinea during World War II and Beryl had lost two husbands and suffered a stroke. But nothing was going to keep them off their horses.
The name Riding Rileys was coined by Tabulam history writer Isabelle Wilkinson in Four Legs but No Wheels.