Equipassion UK: Blog https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog en-us Equipassion UK [email protected] (Equipassion UK) Sun, 15 Oct 2023 12:13:00 GMT Sun, 15 Oct 2023 12:13:00 GMT https://www.equipassionuk.com/img/s/v-12/u706495699-o967280273-50.jpg Equipassion UK: Blog https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog 83 120 9 Things to Do in Normandy https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2023/10/9-things-to-do-in-normandy πŸ΄πŸ‡«πŸ‡· 9 Things to do in Normandy πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ΄

by Claire Owen

Equestrian adventure awaits in Normandy, France's 'Home of the Horse', a perfect destination for equine enthusiasts.  Normandy is renowned for its captivating landscapes, rich history, and deep-rooted equestrian traditions.  With its rolling hills, lush pastures, and breathtaking coastal trails, this region is beautiful.  Whether you're an experienced equestrian or simply fascinated by these majestic animals, Normandy offers an array of thrilling equestrian activities that promise an unforgettable experience.  Here are our suggestions for 9 things to do in Normandy.  We plan to visit the region again soon to add to this list! 

Saddle Up - Beach

Saddle up and discover the beauty of Normandy on horse back.  Here's a few rides that we've been on and can recommend: 

Above: Beach Ride, Cabourg Les Ecuries De La Sablonniere


Above: Beach Ride, Equestrian Centre Blonville Su Mer


Saddle Up - French Countryside 
Take a longer ride in the countryside - we rode with Ecurie du Vièvre and took a full day ride with a break for a French picnic lunch by a Ford along the circular route.  The horses were very fit and agile over mixed terrain. 

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Stay at a French Stud

I can highly recommend Haras d'Ecajeul, a family run Racing Stud.  The accomodation is absolutely beautiful with exposed beams and stable doors and full of rustic French charm and equestrian history.  Upon returning from evening dinner at a local restaurant, candle lit lanterns lined the garden path.  Breakfast was an incredible feast with local cheese, homemade bread, fresh juice, crepes and a delicious homemade caramel sauce. This picturesque, charming stud is well worth a visit.    


Visit Haras National Du Pin

Haras National Du Pin is a splendid National stud farm where visitors can experience magnificent equestrian shows, explore the historic stables, and learn about the region's rich equine heritage.  It is the oldest of the French National studs.  National and International competitions are held throughout the year.  I have visited the stud on more than four occasions and enjoyed the museum, equestrian shows and beautiful chateau.  On my most recent visit we enjoyed watching the World Carriage Driving Championships for singles which was being held there.  We were also able to try carriage driving in the beautiful grounds of the stud and had the opportunity to ride a beautiful Percheron stallion.  Please check the website of Haras National Du Pin for seasonal opening times, available experiences and events. 


Explore Deauville

Deauville is a charming seaside resort on the Northwest coast of France in the Calvados region of Normandy.  In 1863, a starting gun signalled Deauville's very first horse race on the beach, now, the city is considered to be the equestrian capital of mainland France.  Deauville hosts horse racing seven months of the year, auctions of thoroughbreds and trotters, International Polo, showjumping, dressage and carriage driving events.  Even just taking a morning walk on the beach you will likely find horses in training.  I was lucky to have the pleasure of watching a horseman liberty training five horses, trotters pulling sulkies (carts) across the shoreline and a ride of 50(!) Shetland ponies and children

Would you take a ride of 50 children on Sheltands to the beach?


[email protected] (Equipassion UK) https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2023/10/9-things-to-do-in-normandy Thu, 12 Oct 2023 13:24:38 GMT
Standing Together for Safer Roads https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2023/9/standing-together-for-safer-roads Standing Together for Safer Roads

By Annabel Burn 


In a recent heartfelt post by dedicated racehorse rider and head groom Louisa Allen, we were given a sobering reminder of the challenges faced by horses and their riders on the road every day. This is a greater risk for flighty racehorses but the plea for drivers to respect horses on the roads is a call that should resonate with all of us, whether we're horse enthusiasts, racing enthusiasts or not. It's a plea for understanding, empathy, and above all, safety.

Allen's experiences of regularly encountering red light jumpers on Epsom Downs Racecourse, and even recently having a close call with a car, is undoubtedly harrowing and becoming far too common.  Epsom Downs Racecourse is criss crossed with general traffic. To imagine being in a situation where the simple act of respecting traffic signals could mean the difference between life and death for both the rider and the horse is sobering, to say the least. It's a testament to the shared vulnerability that both riders and horses face on the roads.  

Allen makes clear, it's not just a job; it's a way of life, a deep connection that goes beyond the mere act of riding; these horses are more than just animals they look after and sit upon; they are integral parts of their hearts. These animals provide companionship, solace, and a sense of purpose that cannot be easily replicated.  It's a reminder that the relationships we build with animals are significant and meaningful in their own right.  The pain of losing a horse, even when they transition to a new yard or face unforeseen incidents, is palpable, but to lose a horse in an easily avoidable accident, is becoming a frighteningly regular occurence on our roads. 

If only these thoughtless or hurried drivers could realise that each horse carries a piece of the hearts of those who devote their lives to caring for them despite the dreadful pay, 4am starts, minimal days off and long, long hours... these things are secondary when you have an all consuming love. That's what you risk destroying in your rush to get a few seconds ahead of the other traffic.

The call for drivers to slow down and respect red lights goes beyond just being considerate; it's a plea for a safer environment for everyone involved. Epsom racecouse is not just a place of work; Since 1640 it's been a place of magic -  passion, dedication, and dreams.  It's where riders and horses forge their partnership, where aspirations take shape, where history has been made and where the long days have for hundreds of years been spent providing care, exercise, love and a comforting routine for these incredible animals.

As Allen says in her post, let's take a moment to think about the personalities that these horses possess. Just as we care for our pets in our home, these horses have quirks, feelings, and individualities that deserve the consideration of every road user, the vast majority of whom must surely be pet owners going on National statistics.  As animal lovers we must stand together and spread the word to make the roads safer for both humans and animals alike. Epsom Downs Racecourse is first and foremost a place for horses and riders.  At the very least they should feel safe and happy there.

So, to the brave rider who penned this plea, know that your words have reached hearts and minds. Your courage in speaking out and sharing your experiences shines a light on the importance of responsible driving and empathy for one another. Let's heed your call and spread the word to slow down, respect these wonderful creatures, those who care for them and respect those red lights. After all, each time we do, we're not just slowing down we're safeguarding lives and preserving the unique bonds that make our world richer.

Editors Note: Written by one equestrian, for another.  Thank You Annabel Burn.  Please take a moment to download the British Horse Society app, 'Horse I' from the Google Play Store.  You can easily report incidents or near misses on this app and the stats help the BHS to see hotspots and carry out work in those areas.

Photo: Louisa Allen on Epsom Downs - Photo by Steven McCormick Photography  

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2023/9/standing-together-for-safer-roads Sat, 02 Sep 2023 15:09:21 GMT
A Majestic Arrival https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2023/6/a-majestic-arrival Operation Centaur's Majestic New Arrival

by Claire Owen


Operation Centaur, based in Richmond Park and Hampton Court, London, keep the art of working with rare breed heavy horses alive, through estate conservation, heritage, community projects and equine therapy.  

On 25th May 2023 at midday, Operation Centaur welcomed the newest member of the Shire herd; Hampton Court King Charles, in honour of His Majesty the King in his Coronation year.  Charles is a beautiful grey Shire and full brother to Hampton Court George, who was born in June 2020.  He will join his brother George to work at Hampton Court Palace.   

Shire horses are rare as a breed and grey Shires are rarer still.  "A grey Shire foal is a cause for celebration" - Edward McDowell, Operation Centaur. 

Operation Centaur Shire horses are working horses.  They have an important role in modern conservation management. Their work includes grass cutting, bracken control, hay cutting and regenerating wild flower meadows.  

The connection between Hampton Court Palace horses can be seen through histrory, particularly through the reigns of Henry VIII and Queen Victoria.  The Shire stands as a symbol of power and tradition.  Visitors to Hampton Court Palace exploring it's rich history and grandeur can take a Shire Horse tram ride (weather dependant) in the Palace Gardens (Weather dependant and check website for details)   

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) equestrian Hampton Court Hampton Court Charles Hampton Court King Charles horses London Shire Horse Surrey https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2023/6/a-majestic-arrival Fri, 30 Jun 2023 18:37:34 GMT
Scurry of East Sussex - Leg 12 GB Hunt Ride League https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2023/3/scurry-of-east-sussex---report The Scurry of East Sussex

Leg 12 GB Hunt Ride League

by Rachel Collins & Claire Owen

35 riders took part in The Scurry of East Sussex on Saturday 11th March, at the stunning South Downs location of Northease Farm, Lewes by kind permission of Mr & Mrs David Robinson.  This was leg 10 of the 17 leg GB Hunt Ride League.  It had been a rainy few days in the lead up to the event but ground conditions were perfect.  The course looked spectacular and was twisty-turny, with 33 obstacles over two and a half miles for the fast and furious.  

Here is Rachel Collin's report from onboard her Irish Sports Horse, Buckaroo Bob.  

"The morning of the scurry, I was nervous and excited!  I was joined by my supporters; my friend Ellie, who had given me the push I needed to enter, my Mum Sue and my best friend Lucy.  They kept me calm, stopped me veering off the M23 to divert my day to schooling at Hickstead or Arena Eventing at Pyecombe!  My nerves often get the better of me and I end up feeling or being sick, they all did there best to keep me occupied and reduce my overthinking.  I had already walked the course on Thursday and felt confident that the jumps were totally in our comfort zone from our previous weeks drag hunting with the Berks & Bucks.  Bob had been awesome and made it feel easy so I just kept that in my mind for the race.

As I mounted and headed off for the parade, I chatted to a few people on the walk round. Sarah Elliot, a cracking, fearless rider gave me confidence that we would have no issues and the course builder, also riding in the race, gave me some good advice, including not emptying the tank heading up the two big hills, especially as I was on a non TB.

We headed off for a warm up canter with the hunt master leading, popped a hedge and immediatelyI felt calmer. The race was then off and I stupidly played it a little too safe by starting way off the field. Through fences 2 & 3, the leaders were already 2 fences ahead of me, but Bob merrily popped away and took no notice of being by himself with a few stragglers in front of us, as we passed the crowds is was great to hear them cheering everyone on.

Fence 8, 9 & 10 came up quick with 9 being quite a wide hedge with a drop, Bob made it feel easy so we cruised around to fence 16 then had our first hill to climb, by this point I was at least 3 fences behind the main group but Bob was jumping well and I was having a great time. 

Rachel & Buckaroo Bob Fence 16

I came round to fence 19, the bogey fence as the commentator called out on the tannoy!  It was a hefty hedge, on a downhill approach with a fair old drop on the landing side. These types of fences always scare me, and as I was approaching, I had seen the rider in front of me avoid it and trot through the gateway. This filled me with even more dread but I sat up, kicked on and Bob jumped it like it was nothing, so in my head, I was over the worst part of the course. Another huge cheer from the crowds as we jumped out over fence 21 to a different field, stopped for the hunt master to jump into the field at fence 24 to retrieve a loose horse and then had a trot up the second hill. Bob jumped the remaining fences really well, with us just having to go round fence 32 due to a rider fall. We came over the last to a huge cheer and I was beaming from ear to ear.

Bob had his ears pricked the whole way and most importantly, came home safe. In hindsight, as I said at the beginning, I would ensure I don't start so far back next time. I am going to work on his uphill fitness but overall, he was barely blowing after the race, not bad for a 19yr old Irish Sports Horse. It really was so much fun and a huge tick off my bucket list. I enjoyed it so much, I have already entered the Stonehall Scurry in April"

Rachel Collins at the finish

Please enjoy the following photos from the Scurry Of East Sussex and full results at the end of the report.  Photos (including dogs) by Equipassion UK can be purchased here.  

Victoria Whiteman at fence 26 which provided a fantastic view of the course.

William Fox Grant & Skipper Robin at the 2nd to last.

Yvie Jeanne 1st Non TB section jumping in style at 2nd to last

Sara Roberts and Mushti came in 2nd and 1st veteran - Sara tells us "Mushti was a broken down ex pointer when he was given to me at 6 years old.  He lives out 24/7.  He loves to run and goes at his own pace"

First past the post - Zack Davidson and Crieve Hill

Generous prizes from Inkerman London

Scurry Of East Sussex 2023 winner Zack Davidson

Richard Newble zooming around the course at nearly 77 years young.

Sara Roberts and Zack Davidson 


Full results for the Scurry of East Sussex - 

1st Zack Davidson – Crieve Hill

2nd Sara Roberts – Mushti (First Veteran)

3rd Hannah Stevenson – Get Busy Livin (First Scurry Virgin)

4th William Nunn – Vif Argent 

5th Stuart Robinson – Owenacurra (First Heavyweight)

6th Nia Kerslake – Blue Monday 

7th Archie Holmes – Lacka Boy (First Young Rider)

8th Katie Featherstone - Winola

9th Yvie Jeanne – Nuage Du Lait (First Non-Thoroughbred)

10th William Fox-Grant – Skipper Robin

11th Sarah Elliott – Rosie (Second Non-Thoroughbred)

12th Philip Hirst - Pickamix

13th Emma Renals - Megalypos

14th Richard Newble - Mylarky (Third Non-Thoroughbred)

15th Kelly Hazelden - Millie

16th Harry Chapman - Marmite

17th Daisy Evci - Cyril

18th Emma Parker - Theo

19th Victoria Whiteman - Bonnie

20th Lucy Jane - Roxy

21st Charlotte Emslie – Casey Tiles

22nd Ellie Loveden - Albert

23rd Lauren Hirst – Vincs Vinnie

24th Lily Chandler - Inky

25th Rachel Collins – Buckeroo Bob

Prizes were plentiful and everyone who took part received a beautiful drink ware piece from generous sponsors Inkerman London.  

The GB Hunt Ride League is sponsored by Retraining of Racehorses and Fox Grant Estate Agents

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) blog equestrian horses hunt race hunt ride https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2023/3/scurry-of-east-sussex---report Thu, 30 Mar 2023 15:53:38 GMT
Surrey Equestrians Unite to pay respects to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2022/9/surrey-equestrians-unite-to-pay-respects-to-her-majesty-queen-elizabeth-ii Surrey Equestrians Unite to pay respects to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Surrey (and surrounding) equestrians joined together today,  Monday 19th September  2022, at The Four Horseshoes on Chobham Common to pay respects to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  

Equipassion UK was there to capture the atmosphere of the day.  As we approached the common and saw ponies with tiny riders smartly dressed in hacking jackets I struggled to hold myself together.  There was a fantastic turn out of more than 60 well groomed horses and ponies with riders dressed smartly with touches of red, white and blue.  The funeral was streamed on a PA system outside the pub and riders and those on foot watched live streams on their phones. 

Organiser,  Senna-Michelle Clements said  "Thankyou to everyone who attended The Four Horseshoes Green today to pay respects to Queen Elizabeth II" "To see so many equestrians come together, her majesty would have loved it"  "Thank You to Chobham Rugby Club, The Four Horseshoes and Rodney Dell."

Sarah Tombs commented "Was very emotional to see so many gather together"  Michelle Philip said "Most fitting way to honour our queen"

Here follows a small selection of photographs from the day.   Full album of photos can be found here 


[email protected] (Equipassion UK) blog Chobham equestrian Her Majesty The Queen HMQ horses Surrey The Four Horseshoes The Queen https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2022/9/surrey-equestrians-unite-to-pay-respects-to-her-majesty-queen-elizabeth-ii Mon, 19 Sep 2022 17:04:54 GMT
OSBWKH Gymkhana https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2022/8/osbwkh-gymkhana EVENT REPORT - OSBWKH Gymkhana

by Abbie Hart 


If the Olympic motto is ‘Higher, faster, stronger’ then I’m sure the Greek forefathers would have had mixed feelings about a shopping list that included melons, lurid charity shop outfits that would have swamped even the largest sumo wrestler and a tub of Vaseline. However, add six teams of confused people, a long rope, about a dozen insulted horses, a relatively flat field, some adult plastic underwear and a pack of maddened racing ‘terriers’ and you have an OSBWK Olympics.

Hosting the games this year was the beautiful Twyford farm – Bob Felton and Liz Wallis who not only allowed us all to invade their tranquil beauty spot for a day but spent the previous week sourcing tightly wrapped large bales, strimming and shopping so that the athletes would be fed and watered to the highest standard with local ale, home grown beef burgers, pork sausages and copious other extremely alcoholic ‘sports’ drinks.

Terrier racing with two dogs per team was possibly the most confusing and wild start to a games yet. The brief delay due to a technical hitch meant that the decibel level had risen to unbearable by the time we begun thanks to world class yapping and the odd scream as the limbs of those restraining the furry contestants were gently severed. Race one was a resounding success for the Woodlands team who produced two menacing looking Patterdales that nothing would argue with and Race two seemed to be won by a very hairy lurcher that wasn’t actually part of things…a re run was demanded but it was decided to cease the activity before environmental health were called.

With the dogs and bitches away ‘Horses ladies and gentleman please’ was the call for the next race –The Dressing up race, a relatively simple task- canter down to the end, place on one item of women’s clothing and come back. This was more or less completed by all if you ignore one equine head on collision in which a respectable adult male was turned into an unwitting human cannonball, a youth was seen galloping off into the box park with no reins wearing little except a woman’s bathing suit and as I forcibly removed 8 items from one contestant who’s team mates had obviously more experience with making rubber band balls than dressing women and it was decided that the padded incontinence knickers were actually a handy bit of safety gear.


This year’s relay watermelons were disappointingly small (story of my life) and so it was deemed necessary by the organizers to apply an industrial amount of embrocation to each one as it always seems to help things along. Special commendation goes to the lady on the strong bay horse for managing to turn at the end with Vaseline all over her reins and a melon in her pants, to the jockey to sat several bucks and a nap without any of his literal or personal fruit being damaged, to the vet who wiped hers and took it home for supper and to the galloping barrister whose melon met with an untimely end but was buried so firmly that there will no need to buy any next year such will be the quality of the crop at Twyford.

Chase me Charlie Jumping followed – with myself finding it strange at this stage that I needed to remind some more excitable riders to wear clothes. This was dominated by the team from Cinder Hill vets and a ringer who joined the OSBWK with a tie at 1m20 and one very sore backside from an ambitious female competitor on a chestnut mare who performed a disappearing act backwards between her riders’ legs at the crucial moment.

Horses away and the light fading there was a break for more tasty sports drinks followed by some Tug of War for which it seemed harder than usual to explain the rules and even understand who was on which side. This seemed only sortable in only one way with our final competition – the bale roll. Teams have to roll a large haybale around a track laid out around the field, a pleasant rural task, elimination if a marker is missed or the perimeter fence is crashed into used to be the only rules. However, following the scenes of violence of 2021 a new rule for 2022 was ‘No hair pulling’. Off they raced with some pushing bales, others attempting to block rivals using their own bodies or dragging competitors under bales which led to a few roadkill moments. By the half way marker, a fight had broken out, a lady master was stripping a tree surgeon naked, a vet nurse was being held upside down and the redundant dogs from earlier had finished off the BBQ and started to work their way through tearful orphans abandoned by parents. A win for a combination of WoodFalls and the Giddings team – a new rule of ‘no eye gouging’ will be in place for 2023 and tie breaker was attempted to decide a winner but by now the light was fading and it was time to return to the real world before we would be reduced to identifying further casualties using dental records.

A huge thank you to Twyford farm for the food, beer hospitality and venue - and all of our sponsors Equipassion UK, Kitchens Bespoke, Equine Transport UK, Equine Laundry, The Sussex Riding School and the Queens Arms Cowden Pound. To Claire Owen of Equipassion for the photos and sponsorship, to Elin Hancock for help setting it up and also to Tim Staines and Harry Johnstone for help in the clean-up operation!

Watch the bale rolling madness on Tiktok - Tiktok link


[email protected] (Equipassion UK) https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2022/8/osbwkh-gymkhana Fri, 26 Aug 2022 21:24:00 GMT
Man vs Horse https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2022/6/man-vs-horse Man Vs Horse 

by Rebecca Stevens


Many people will say their best (or worse!) ideas come after a few drinks at the pub with friends. This is definitely the case with the Man Vs Horse Event in Llanwrtyd Wells. 

Back in 1980, Gordon Green, landlord of the Neuadd Arms, was chatting over a few drinks with the local huntsman.  They had conflicting theories as to whether a man could beat a horse in a race across the varying local terrain.  Logic would of course dictate a horse would win, but then let’s factor in humans speed downhill and ability to endure the terrain across a long distance and the race becomes a lot more even (and interesting!) 

From this small idea between friends, a huge unique event now recognised across the world was born, the Man Vs Horse Marathon. 

πŸ“· Andy Beaumont


πŸ“· Christian Prynne


The small quiet Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells every year has its population nearly treble for one weekend as people from all walks of life come to try their hand (and hoof) at this event.  As the event has grown over the years (now with over 60 horses and hundreds of runners) so too have the rules and conditions. The runners get a 15 minute head start, followed by the horses and riders with a mass start from the town centre through cheering spectators. The horses have to pass a vet check before the race, at the mid-way point and end before being allowed to finish. At each of these vettings, the horses are checked over and have to get their heart-rates below 60BPM (not easy when they’ve just been tearing around the welsh countryside!) so it truly becomes an even more interesting event and close race. 


πŸ“· Huw Evans Picture Agency


This year saw the event make history again as a human runner snatched victory. This is only the third time in the event's nearly 50 year history that a human has achieved this, and although the incentive grew over the years with some impressive prize money, the real victory is to say you beat a horse in a race. Firefighter, Ricky Lightfoot was the victor taking the £3500 prize, as he crossed the line in an impressive time and 2 minutes and 24 seconds ahead of the first horse.   


So how about the experience itself?  Why would anyone be mad enough to do it on foot or under saddle? 

Well, as a local girl who also owned horses, I grew up watching this event in awe. Seeing these incredible fit horses charging past with their riders and the electric atmosphere that filled the town, never failed to make my eyes twinkle and dream that one day I too could compete. 


As I grew older, I got my teeth into the event, volunteering as a vet writer from the age of 13 and seeing first hand how much work went into getting those all important heart rates down. Year after year we saw riders determined for the win and others just happy to tick this off their bucket list. But even with years of seeing behind the scenes, I don't think anything could have ever prepared me for riding this event- there truly is nothing else like it. 


πŸ“· Rebecca Stevens riding Caddie towards the end of the race in 2018


A mass start of 60 horses through crowds sounds like a recipe for disaster, and don't get me wrong- i was sitting tight and praying i didn't have a dismount in front of everyone! A pace car controls the horses pace for the first mile but once this leaves its every rider for themselves as you tackle the first hill. I say hill, but to be honest even for a welsh girl like myself, these aren't hills, these are mountains with almost vertical inclines and equally as grueling descents. 

Soon you are riding alongside runners shouting "Horse on Left" as you overtake them on the hills and they jog past you again with ease on the descents. But one of the things that makes this event so memorable and different is the camaraderie and fun atmosphere shared by all competitors- cheering one another on and making jokes as you pass, somehow all smiling through the pain and often testing terrain. 


πŸ“· Andy Hedges


Then you have the vet check at the halfway point. Here, it's a game of planning as well as horse welfare as the riders have a ‘pit stop’ crew cooling down the horses and helping to bring their heart rates down. Once they have passed the vets approval, it’s all systems go again as riders tackle the second half of the race and hope to make up some time again.

πŸ“· Julie Griffiths


Finally, after it feels like you can’t take even one more hill and your body aches (both runners and riders feel the same I think!) you hear cheers from crowds in the distance as you descend that final hill. Most take this chance to have a gallop to the finish line and a fun photo finish as they breathe a sigh of relief that they made it!

πŸ“· Andy Hedges


πŸ“· Rebecca Stevens finishing the race in 2018


So what makes people return year after year to this event? Why do we expose ourselves and our steeds to these unforgiving welsh hills and challenging weather conditions? 

Of course, some do it for the glory of that victory but overall there seems to be a unanimous agreement that there is something truly unique about this event that isn't found anywhere else in the world. Whether it’s the fact it's run totally by volunteers and locals who marshall and line the event route to cheer you along, or the novelty of hearing a horse's hooves thunder past you as you run. This event seems to have an atmosphere of love, pure enjoyment and support wrapped around it (as well as a pinch of sweat!) that only further adds to its appeal and keeps people coming back. 

See you there next year? Man vs Horse


[email protected] (Equipassion UK) https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2022/6/man-vs-horse Fri, 24 Jun 2022 18:23:25 GMT
Straight from the Horse's Mouth: Collecting Equine Voices for Film https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2022/5/straight-from-the-horses-mouth-collecting-equine-voices-for-film Straight from the Horse's Mouth: Collecting Equine Voices for Film
by Annabel Burn

Today, a teeny bit of Hollywood glamour came to our humble little yard in Epsom, Surrey.  Our horses were recorded going about their daily lives to provide film sound effects for a new Universal Studios production coming out later this year. 

Three of our horses, Flynn, Max and Melly, were mic'd up with super sensitive devices gaffer taped onto their fly masks, so the unique sounds of each individual horse could be collected.  Melly is a particularly chatty horse with a huge range of different expressive noises, but Flynn and Max are quieter so we had to do some work to get whinnies, nickers and snorts from them. 

A few mics were placed around the yard for catching general yard atmosphere, and there was a mobile mic for honing in on any interesting ad hoc pony sounds.  This looked like a giant hairy hamster on the end of a long pole, so if you watch the film and you hear a surprised sounding snort or two, you'll know why!

A totally different day, we're really excited for the release of this major motion picture and will be able to reveal more detail and behind the scenes content on it's release later this year.  

Please follow Equipassion UK on Facebook

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) film hollywood horses sound universal studios https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2022/5/straight-from-the-horses-mouth-collecting-equine-voices-for-film Thu, 05 May 2022 19:57:39 GMT
Plough Sunday, The Royal Military Chapel, London https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2022/2/operation-centaurs-heath-attends-plough-sunday Plough Sunday

The Royal Military Chapel, London.


Plough Sunday is a traditional English celebration at the beginning of the agricultural year.  The plough (sometimes a tractor) is bought to the Church for "Blessing of the plough".  

Operation Centaur took Shire Horse; Heath to The Royal Military Chapel (Guard's Chapel) at Wellington Barracks, London.

Sunday best - Heath turned out beautifully.

Checking in at the guard house

Heath, Tom and Lizzie at the foot of the Chapel stairs before the blessing.

The blessing was read from the stairs of the Chapel:

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation: for in your abundant care you have given us fertile land, rich soil, the seasons in their courses. 

You provide seed for sowing, water, light and warmth to bring forth the miracle of growth. You give us skill to work the land, to prepare and nourish it, that it may be fruitful.

By your blessing, let this plough be a sign of all that you promise to us.

Prosper the work of our hands, and provide abundant crops for your people to share.

Find out more at - Operation Centaur

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) blog equestrian Horse horses London Shire https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2022/2/operation-centaurs-heath-attends-plough-sunday Thu, 03 Feb 2022 13:19:06 GMT
100 Moments from All The Queen's Horses at London's New Year's Day Parade https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2022/1/100-moments-from-all-the-queens-horses-at-london-s-new-year-s-day-parade 100 Moments from All The Queen's Horses at London's New Year's Day Parade

by Claire Owen 

Just over 10 years ago in Autumn 2011, I received a phone call from Caroline Marsh (whom I was yet to meet).  We spoke for well over an hour about her vision; All The Queen's Horses at the London New Years Day Parade.  Did I think she was slightly crazy?  Yes!  But she inspired me and I was firmly on board as a photographer on the team! 

Fast forward to New Years Day 2012 and we were in the back streets of Green Park, central London with a huge team of horses about to parade through flag waving, bustling crowds alongside marching bands, cheerleaders, extravagant theatrical floats, dancers and performers from around the World. 

The Parade takes the same route each year; starting at Picadilly it gets going just on approach to The Ritz then through Piccadilly Circus, Lower Regent Street, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall to Parliament Square.  The crowd is an estimated 500,000 people and 600 million+ online and on TV Worldwide audience, so you want to hope your horse is on it best behaviour!  

Thoroughbred ex Racehorses, Lusitanos, Shetlands & Falabellas, Fjords, Dales, Arabs, Cobs, Friesians, dogs and even a rabbit have all been part of the All the Queen's Horses team.

Please enjoy the following 100(+) that have been selected as favourites from the past 10 years at London's New Year's Day Parade.  Photographers; Claire Owen, Pip Robertson and Charlotte Gooders.  All photos can be purchased here 

1. Caroline Marsh.  ATQH Creator, leader, inspiration.

1. Caroline Marsh.  Creator, leader, inspiration.

2. An early start in the back streets to get prepared.  

3. Caroline Marsh leads the first 'All The Queen's Horses' group in 2012 aboard Hanna.

4. Timeless

5.  Beautifully turned out side saddle ladies 

6. Jo Sellars-Waymark & retrained racehorse pass giant balloons at The Ritz.


8. Charlee Bywater & Hugo


10. Robyn KIte

11. Greys at Horse Guards Parade

12.  Representation from Warlingham & District Horse Club 

♥ Molly Green always remembered ♥

13.  Buckingham Palace

14. A grass horse from another part of the parade

15. Teresa & Bailey


17. In 2013 I took the opportunity to take part in the parade myself on my golden oldie, Max.  Thank you Pip Robertson.

18. Colourful Knights on The Mall.  Georgia Smith, Edina Boorman, Claire Owen (Equipassion UK) and ATQH creator Caroline Marsh.

19.  Toy Story, Shrek.

20. Quadrille team 

21.  Patrick Kempe


23 - 27.  Marvellous manes and tails 

28 - 32.  Attention to detail.

33 - 36. 101 Dalmations





41 & 42

43 - 58. Circus & Cirque Du Soleil 


60 - 63. Marvellous head shots

64 - 68. Day of the Dead


69. Absolutely loved this pinata costume!

70, 71. Sussex Lusitanos, Sherene and Lelia Rahmatalla

72, 73. Walk like an Eygyptian

74. Cheerleaders in front.  Horses need to be calm in nature to take part. 

75 - 79.  Crowd interaction.

80. Thirsty work





84, 85, 86. Shetland Pony grand national Team

87 -90. Safari

91. Peter Green in riding in memory of Molly Green on her horse.


93 - 96 Carnival time!







Congratulations Caroline and team on bringing your vision to life.  

See you in 2023 London!

All photos copyright you can purchase photos at here 

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) All The Queen's Horses blog equestrian horses lnydp London london new years day parade parade travel https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2022/1/100-moments-from-all-the-queens-horses-at-london-s-new-year-s-day-parade Mon, 17 Jan 2022 14:04:04 GMT
Sixty spectacular creative equestrian social posts from the spooky season https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2020/10/spooky-season Sixty spectacular social posts from the spooky season

posted by Claire Owen

Perfectly carved pumpkins, the best in spooky fancy dress, scrumptious sweet treats, breath-taking photography and awesome illustration. We've pulled together a collection of the best equestrian creativity from the spooky season.  


The best in pumpkin carving; 15 carved and painted pumpkins -

So cosy @butternbicuits


Celebrating ROR - Anna Bowen


Katie Mortimore Photographer and Illustrator




Rachel Cole Hodson



A fiery unicorn @loisifer


Equetech Clothing






"When your daughter wants a unicorn pumpkin, she gets a unicorn pumpkin!"
 This is awesome @dr_ranj


The Green Dragonfly






Painted pumpkins, perfect for a hunt breakfast Daniella Anderson


A spooky scene from Home Park, Hampton Court, home of Royal Parks Shires/ Operation Centaur - keeping the art of working with rare breed heavy horses alive, through estate conservation, heritage, community projects and equine therapy.


Seven spectacular photographers creating spooky scenes - 






Magical @mp_fotowelt



Janina Weis Fotografie



Must follow! - EJ Lazenby talented photographer with an artistic twist.  She is also a tutor and runs equine photography workshops, based in the UK.





@campari.kris  @rita.lozhkina.photo





An absolute favourite of mine on social media and another 'must follow' to warm your heart.  

Gentle Carousel's teams of tiny horses visit over 25,000 adults and children each year inside hospitals, hospice programs, and with families, veterans and first responders who have experienced traumatic events. From Sandy Hook Elementary School / Newtown, CT to the tornado survivors of Moore, OK,  those dealing with the Charleston and Orlando shootings to child trafficking victims in Washington D.C., these tiny horses bring their special love where it is needed most.


"Trick or Treat" roan-ranch.com

10 tasty treats -

Daniella Anderson, forever inspiring me!  Find more at Countryside Confections


How cute are these? @cookies_cakes_and_crumbs


For our equine friends (who look like they very much enjoy them!) @equineeatsntreats @_little.silhouettes_


Pump-corn? Uni-kin? Whatever you want to call it, this unicorn pumpkin cake is the cutest cake in the patch! @davidscustomcakes


Wow!  Halloween Unicorn Cake  Worth's Bakery Welling, London, UK


Absolutely beautiful @maddiescookieco (perfectly curated instagram, go check it out!)


@thelittlecookiehouse, Houston, Texas



Good enough to eat?

Well actually, no don't eat it but rather, bathe with it.  This vanilla buttercream crunch scented bath bombe is by The Nightmare Bath & Body; handmade, all-natural bath bombs, whipped sugar scrubs, and body butter.  Inspired by Halloween, Autumn, and famous characters/places from popular literature.  


Fanastic fancy dress - 

Kirsty Robertson and Prince winners of Kite Events fancy dress 2021, Lingfield, Surrey

'Captain Bond, The Mummy' Janelle Holden


Doc aka ‘DT’ Tracey Russell


Trick or treat?  Fancy dress at Kite Events show, Lingfield, UK


London New Year's Day Parade, The Ritz, London with All the Queen's Horses


Another brilliant costume at Kite Events show, Lingfield, Surrey, UK

Brilliant!  Janelle Holden


Meanwhile over in USA.....

We all know that one person who is forever trying to get their horse on the trailer. πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€ Steph Ranger


Brilliant photographers I was grateful to join in 2018 Middleburg Photo, VA, USA





We can't forget our other four legged faithful friends - 

Meet Kuba the Pom, small in size and full of sass.  Photographer FPD Photography  has written a blog all about her - https://www.fpdphotography.com/post/kuba-the-pumpkin-we-never-knew-we-needed  She's got her own Insta account too - @kubathepom 


Wearing it well Dogtrix


Oh so cute, Chris Harper-Davies


Autumn Feels so beautiful Anna Rainbow Photography



And finally, remember...... happy riding!

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) blog equestrian Halloween horses spooky https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2020/10/spooky-season Sat, 31 Oct 2020 20:54:20 GMT
IN PICTURES Yard Kittens https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2020/7/yard-kittens IN PICTURES

A Collection of Cool Yard Kittens

Don't forget to enter your pets in the SUMMER FUN ONLINE SHOW.  

Equipassion UK on Facebook


[email protected] (Equipassion UK) cats cool cats kittens yard cats https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2020/7/yard-kittens Sat, 25 Jul 2020 06:58:54 GMT
The Best Equestrian Panoramic 'Fails' https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2020/3/the-best-equestrian-panoramic-fails The Best Equestrian Panoramic 'Fails'

Most phones have a panoramic function on them, essentially a setting that stitches together a sequence of photos.  Some photos work out, others don't; the ones that 'fail' are definitely the best ones!  Here follows a collection of the best equestrian panoramic 'fails' on the internet to brighten your day.  

1/ The view from CDB Eventing's 3 headed horse


2/ Not sure this slinky horse was successful in the jump off #timefaults  @samanthyyyy πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί


3/ Do you think my saddle is a bit far forward?   Cerys Turner Photography


4/ I’ve seen a sausage dog but never a sausage pony πŸ˜‚


5/ Judge: "Lacking activity behind" 



6/Really tucks herself up over a fence


7/No words needed


8/ Centi-horse, huge hay bills and expensive to shoe.



9/ Go follow Save A Horse Australia 



10/ 'Free walk on a long rein'. 

That spectator in the background morphed with the horses leg tho πŸ€£


11/ @surethreat.and.me = dinoshorse


12/ (Credit unknown)


13/ Quarterhorse (Credit: Unknown)


14/ Not going to sleep tonight @naughty.norax


15/ We all have that one friend........ 


16/ I can't even.  That's enough internet for today πŸ€£


UPDATE November 2020.  Now if you haven't yet found the Facebook group ShitEventersUnite then you should probably should.  It's a feel good, friendly, no judgement group full of laugh out loud equestrian fail photos.  Michelle Renee Ardle shared the following photo to kick of a series of further pano fails that just had to be added to this blog!


17/ "I showed my daughter and said 'I think there's something wrong with your pony'.  Didn't think she'd believe the photo..... sobbing tears, oops lol, my bad haha"


18/ "Bit of turmeric will sort that out" 

πŸ“· Angela Holmes


19/ "This was taken by my niece.... we seem to have turned into centipedes!" ~ Helen Rebecca


20/ "Must cost you a fortune in tendon boots"

πŸ“· Linda Rivett


21/  Next minute someone reports you to the RSPCA

πŸ“· Jamie-Lee Fox


22/ He's a little short in the neck and back isn't he?

πŸ“·Natasha Adams, Bethany Ansbro


23/ "Managed to lengthen her out throughout the ride"


24/ "I thought he was an XC jump" 

πŸ“· Lycette Silvey


25/ "Oh god, double headed red head....now that is what you call double trouble" 

πŸ“· Rachel Cawley

ShitEventersUnite, thank you! 🀣


I hope that this collection of the best 'fails' on the net has bought a smile to your day.  Thank you to all contributors.  I hope this post found you well, keeping safe and if your country is affected by Coronavirus, staying at home.  Personally, I am finding it tough at the moment.  Both myself and my partner are key workers so we're working during the UK lockdown which causes anxiety on top of other personal worries.  When not working I'm keeping busy by creating web content such as this and also making sure my horse and his field buddy are okay.  We will all get through these uncertain times, they are temporary.  There will be lots more content to follow - doggos next?  Do leave comments/ suggestions/ say hello/ say where you are in The World.  

Please support Equipassion UK by following on socials - Follow Equipassion UK on Facebook and Follow Equipassion UK on Instagram.  There's a growing number of blog posts available on the website and we're continuing to create and share unique equestrian content.  

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) blog equestrian eventing horse horses panoramic fail showjumping travel https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2020/3/the-best-equestrian-panoramic-fails Sun, 29 Mar 2020 19:51:42 GMT
Park Lane Stables Spread Smiles on the Streets https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2020/3/park-lane-stables-spread-smiles-on-the-streets Park Lane Stables Spread Smiles on the Streets

Park Lane Stables is a family run riding centre in Teddington, South West London.  Coronavirus/ Covid-19 has forced the stables to close it's doors to usual business including RDA and Pony Club riding. 
Manager, Natalie O'Rourke, came up with the heart-warming idea of spreading smiles and happiness in these uncertain times.    The riding centre's trained therapy ponies have been heading out with volunteers into the local community and visiting isolated people and small neighbourhood communities.  I joined volunteers Peter and Verity and 15 year old Annie's Whizz on the streets of Teddington on their smile spreading mission.  Annie's Whizz was also rocking odd socks to mark World Down's Syndrome Day #LotsOfSocks.
First stop was one of the centre's volunteers who was delighted to see Annie's Whizz walk up her garden path.  

Next, we visited a wonderful neighbourhood a little further down the road where many people came to windows and out onto the green area (following social distancing guidance).  Even one of the local cats came along to see what was going on.

Volunteer Peter and Annie's Whizz headed home through Teddington

Annie's Whizz homeward boundAnnie's Whizz homeward bound

Ponies on the pavements, a pure delightPonies on the pavements, a pure delight

From my short visit, I could definitely tell that Park Lane Stables is a very special, happy place.  The staff and volunteers I met were very welcoming and so friendly.  A huge well done to Natalie and the team and thanks for having me along.  

Follow Park Lane Stables on Facebook 


[email protected] (Equipassion UK) blog community Coronavirus Covid-19 equestrian happiness horses isolation London ponies quarantine smiles Teddington https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2020/3/park-lane-stables-spread-smiles-on-the-streets Sat, 21 Mar 2020 21:20:43 GMT
IN PICTURES - Snow Polo World Cup, St Moritz 2020 https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2020/2/in-pictures---snow-polo-world-cup-st-moritz-2020 IN PICTURES - Snow Polo World Cup, St Moritz 2020

Snow, Sunshine, Champagne and World Class Polo


The Snow Polo World Cup, St Moritz was held 23rd-26th January 2020 on the frozen lake of St Moritz, Switzerland, luxury Winter resort.  You can read all about Snow Polo and my last visit in my blog - Snow Polo World Cup and on the Official Website.  2020 teams battling it out for the trophy were Maserati, Azerbaijan, Land of Fire, Badrutts Palace and team St Moritz.

St Moritz Team Captain, Valery Mishchenko Nacho Gonzalez Robert Strom, Team St Moritz Nacho Gonzalez and Max Charlton, Team St Moritz Team St Moritz off to a great start to the tournament The Voice of Polo, Jan-Erik Frank and founder, Reto Gaudenzi St Moritz vs Azerbaijan, Land of Fire Nacho Gonzalez Fantastic save by Nacho Gonzalez Focussed, Max Charlton Badrutts's Palace, Team Captain Melissa Ganzi Melissa Ganzi 2020 Champions, Team St Moritz Swiss tradition, Schlittéda Swiss tradition, Schlittéda Swiss tradition, Schlittéda Swiss tradition, Schlittéda Dogs are very much a part of Snow Polo Dogs are very much a part of Snow Polo.  A whole album of dogs will be added ASAP!  Please pop back!

Polo Lifestyle

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) blog equestrian horses polo Snow polo st moritz travel https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2020/2/in-pictures---snow-polo-world-cup-st-moritz-2020 Sun, 09 Feb 2020 22:08:48 GMT
Wadworths Working Shires have a beer and head off on holiday https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2020/1/wadworths-working-shires-have-a-beer-and-head-off-on-holiday Wadworth's Working Shires have a pint of ale and head off on holiday πŸΊ

Wadworth has been brewing beer in Devizes since 1875, more than 2, 000, 000, 000 (two-thousand million) pints to give some idea of numbers!  The brewery was founded by Henry Alfred Wadworth in partnership with his friend and brother-in-law, John Smith Bartholomew.  They crafted and perfected their unique method of brewing and with growing demand, moved to a larger premises where the brewery still stands.  Henry Alfred Wadworth died following a fall from his horse and the business passed to his founding partner and has remained a family run business.  

Shire horses are a familiar sight in Devizes and have served Wadworth for over 125 years.  Current horses Sam and Jac can be seen out and about delivering to pubs and customers within two miles of the brewery on weekdays. 

As a reward for all their hard work during the year, the Shires have an annual holiday when they are put to grass for two weeks, get the chance to rest their legs, have a good roll and relax before another year of service.  I took a drive down to watch this tradition.  

Shire horses Sam and Jac joined crowds that were gathered outside the brewery.  They each had a pint of Wadworth's award winning 6X and met their adoring fans.

Following this they were boarded onto the Shire Team lorry and transported approximately 10 minutes down the road to a huge field where they could enjoy a well deserved Summer Break.  

 For more information and brewery tours see Wadworth Shires

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[email protected] (Equipassion UK) beer Brewery Devizes Shire horse Shire Horses Wadworth Wadworth brewery working horses https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2020/1/wadworths-working-shires-have-a-beer-and-head-off-on-holiday Wed, 08 Jan 2020 17:00:00 GMT
World Horse Welfare Trail https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2019/8/world-horse-welfare-trail WorldHorseWelfare Scuplture Trail, London


World Horse Welfare logo


World Horse Welfare currently have an art trail meandering from Sloane Square to Chelsea Town Hall, King's Road, Kensington & Chelsea.  The trail of ten art sculptures is present until they trot off at end of August 2019 (check with WHW for exact dates).  

The sculptures, all approximately 11hh tall have been designed by some well-known equine enthusiasts including Sara Cox, Martin Clunes and Alan Titchmarsh.  Each horse has it's own story displayed next to it.  

I met with a friend at London Victoria, where we took a train to Sloane Sqaure underground station and picked up an official trail map from Sloane Square Hotel.  From there we took a leisurely walk and followed the route down the King's Road.  The route is family friendly less than a mile in length.  

Here follows a taste of the trail.  I'll add more photographs once the trail has finished.  

'Black' Artist: Gillian Higgins Sponsor: Lincoln Horse Care

Above - 'Black'
Artist: Gillian Higgins 
Sponsor: Lincoln Horse Care 

'Rayo' Artist: Lee McKenzie Sponsor: The Jockey Club

Above - 'Rayo'
Artist: Lee McKenzie
Sponsor: The Jockey Club 

'Patience' Artist: Jamie Osbourne

Above - 'Patience' 
Artist: Jamie Osbourne

'Mr Melvin Andrews' Artist: Sara Cox Sponsor: Horse & Hound

Above - 'Mr Melvin Andrews'
Artist: Sara Cox
Sponsor: Horse & Hound 


'All the pretty horses' - new restaurant; Vardo is soon to open in Duke of York Square.  What a gorgeous mural design to look at in the mean time.  

Of all the horses on the trail, I think 'Clippy' had to be my favourite.  Clippy, by Martin Clunes and Jennifer Bell is sponsored by Wimbledon Village Stables. He is positioned in busy Duke of York Square overlooked by diners.  Beautifully painted, he is a handsome chap with a kind expression.   

Clippy's Story - "Clippy was found neglected and abandoned in a dilapidated stable.  He was named Clippy as he was found with a number of lead ropes attached to his headcollar.  Clippy was rehabilitated by the team at Glenda Spooner Farm, a World Horse Welfare re-homing centre in Somerset.  Clippy was the inspiration for the World Horse Welfare garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2017 which told his story and helped raise awareness of the work of World Horse Welfare".    

Below - Clippy
Artist: Martin Clunes OBE & Jennifer Bell 
Sponsor: Wimbledon Village Stables

Clippy Artist: Martin Clunes OBE & Jennifer Bell Sponsor: Wimbledon Village Stables

Clippy Artist: Martin Clunes OBE & Jennifer Bell Sponsor: Wimbledon Village Stables

Clippy Artist: Martin Clunes OBE & Jennifer Bell Sponsor: Wimbledon Village Stables

The Trail ends just by Chelsea Town Hall.  It's a lovely walk that you can take at your own leisurely pace.    

It's important not to forget the reasons behind the trail and take time to read the stories displayed on the plinths with the sculptures.

"I think the horse trail is a fantastic combination of art and horses,” said World Horse Welfare Patron Sara Cox.  "Hopefully people will find the different designs thought provoking and will prompt them to think about all the horses, ponies and donkeys out there that need love"

World Horse Welfare's vision is a world where every horse is treated with respect, compassion and understanding.
"Our mission is to work with horses, horse owners, communities, organisations and governments to help improve welfare standards and stamp out suffering in the UK and worldwide" 

If you have followed the trail and wish to donate or wish to make a donation anyway you can text Trail followed by your donation to 70085 i.e to donate £3 text 'Trail 3'.  More details on this can be found on World Horse Welfare's website.  You can also make a bid on your favourite horse - they are up for auction in November.  

Whilst you are there, also along the trail on the Kings Road on the King's Road -   

Not to be missed even if window shopping - Maitre Choux: Unique patisserie by multi award winning pastry chef, Joakim Prat.  I've been drooling over Maitre Choux's instagram for a good few years!  Rather pricey but each piece of choux truly is a work of art!  Just look at them! πŸ˜

Salted Caramel choux goodness 😍


Also highly recommended - Venchi, 71 King's Road.  Real Italian gelato, a wonderful array of flavours.  There is even a flowing chocolate tap for coating ice cream cones.  The queue in-store was rather long but I was glad of this as it took me a while to decide on what flavour to pick!  I picked well and was most pleased with my selection of 75% dark chocolate paired with caramel.  Totally instagrammable too!   


These are only two of many places to stop and eat on the King's Road.  There are well over 40 cafes and restaurants to choose from each of them unique.  

After finishing the trail we took a walk Albert Bridge, sat for a while in Battersea Park overlooking the river and then wandered back over Chelsea Bridge back to London Victoria.  I had a really enjoyable day following the trail.  Do share any photos/ comments if you take part!  


Albert Bridge

I do hope that you enjoy reading my blogs and maybe take inspiration from them.
Please don't forget to follow on Facebook.

I also have a Patreon page where you can choose to support me along my journey of creating inspirational equestrian content.  Just like you might purchase a magazine, this is a way of supporting creatives.  Become a supporter

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) Art Chelsea Horses King London Road" s Sculpture World Horse Welfare https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2019/8/world-horse-welfare-trail Sat, 24 Aug 2019 16:00:25 GMT
Be Tick Aware https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2019/7/be-tick-aware Be Tick Aware

The purpose of this brief article is to raise awareness of ticks.

I’ve always been around horses, let my dog sleep in my bed, spent a lot of time in the countryside, taken camping holidays, spend time fishing by the lake, work outside a lot and have never picked up a tick and not really thought about it either.   

Sunday last week, I had been doing some weeding on my driveway in an area where hedgehogs pass through. A little while later I looked down to find a tiny arachnid feasting on my ankle.  I panicked.  The same panic as when a spider crawls on you or an insect lands on you, yet you can’t brush it off or move away from it as it is buried in your skin.  There was some screaming/ shrieking (I have apologised to the neighbours).  All I could think about was getting it out but from owning dogs/ horses I am aware that you should be very careful with ticks.

We popped down to the local hospital/ walk-in and they were able to remove it (after a few tugs) with a tick remover.  I felt immediately relieved when it was out.  A small part was left in so the nurse was able to dig around with a needle and get the last piece out.

I was lucky that I spotted it - they are very small, you are unlikely to feel them attach or as they feed as their saliva helps them to remain totally painless, itches and unobtrusive to their host.  I didn’t feel a thing.  Remember to check yourself and your children for these pests.     

Here’s some tick facts -

  • Ticks are part of the arachnid family and related to spiders, mites and scorpions.
  • They are found all over the UK both in the countryside and towns, including London.   
  • Ticks don't jump or fly – they attach to the skin of animals or humans that brush past them.
  • Most tick bites are harmless but some transmit Lyme disease which can be serious.
  • If you develop a bulls-eye rash at the bite site it is very important to seek medical advice   

There's a lot of wrong advice on social media, especially in relation to how to remove ticks.  Here are some useful links about ticks and very importantly how to remove them safely -




I do hope that you enjoy reading my blogs and maybe take inspiration or learning from them.  Please support Equipassion UK by following on socials - Follow Equipassion UK on Facebook and Follow Equipassion UK on Instagram

There's a growing number of blog posts available on the website and we're continuing to create and share unique equestrian content.  Currently Equipassion UK has no funds coming in from equestrian event photo sales.  If you'd like to support and grow Equipassion UK further in the same way that you might buy a magazine - you can do so via Paypal - Paypal Me.    

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) country countryside hiking lyme disease removal rural tick ticks walking https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2019/7/be-tick-aware Wed, 31 Jul 2019 18:20:56 GMT
Middleburg, VA, USA - The Nations Horse and Hunt Capital https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/12/middleburg-va-usa---the-nations-horse-and-hunt-capital Fall [in love with] Middleburg, VA, USA


At the foot of Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains, Middleburg is set in an area of natural beauty.  A patchwork of rolling fields, forest, rivers and stone walls.  Established in 1787, the small town of Middleburg began to attract fox hunters and steeplechasers and became known as ‘The Nations Horse and Hunt Capital’ I had been researching the area for a while and decided that fall would be a good time to visit.

I managed to get some reasonably priced flights with Virgin Atlantic less than two weeks in advance and started to plan my trip.  I have three lovely people to thank in relation to helping me organise my stay; Susan Oakes, Maryalice and Viviane.  I am most grateful to all.  

I flew from London Heathrow direct to Washington Dulles, my first solo transatlantic flight and second visit to the USA.  I’m quite an anxious flier so was feeling pretty nervous.  It was fun to see ‘unicorn horn pasta’ on the in-flight menu - top marks to the creative team at Virgin Atlantic.  The flight was pleasant and the service excellent.      

Fast forward a few hours and we landed at Washington Dulles airport, which was very busy.  I was lucky that Maryalice picked me up in a distinctive, easy to spot car!  We hit the road and drove West.  Less than an hour later we arrived in Middleburg, Virginia.  As soon as I had arrived I knew I would be very happy there for the next week.  Maryalice, Viviane and I went for a lovely meal that evening and I got my head down for a much needed early night.  

Viviane and I were up bright and early the next morning and enjoyed breakfast together at Middleburg Common Grounds; a beautifully decorated, cosy coffee lounge with a real community feel and the best bagels I have ever tasted.  ’There are no strangers here, just friends that haven’t met’ is the motto on their menu, which I just love.

Following breakfast  we drove to Glenwood Racecourse for the Theodora A Randolph Field Hunter Championship finals.  This championship features horses and riders who have been selected over a week long trial at up to four local hunts.  They participate in a mock hunt and then individually ride a course of jumps and tests to demonstrate their hunting skills.  Trophies are awarded for best turned out, sportsmanship, most suitable pair, reserve and supreme champion.  Side Saddle Chase Foundation president Devon Zebrovious was the only side saddle competitor and looked as elegant as ever aboard ‘King Of Hearts’.  They were selected as reserve best turned out.  John Wittenborn, Smithtown Hunt, New York onboard his 14 year old Clydesdale-Thoroughbred cross was chosen as supreme champion.  Overhearing a couple of English accents, I discovered 4 of the judging panel were from Chiddingfold, Leconfield & Cowdray and Beaufort hunts, it was nice to have a brief conversation with them.


Devon Zebrovious and King of Hearts, reserve best turned out

Above: Devon Zebrovious and King of Hearts, reserve best turned out


Supreme Champion, John Wittenborn, Smithtown Hunt   

Above: Supreme Champion, John Wittenborn, Smithtown Hunt

The 64th running of the Virginia Fall Races followed in the afternoon.  8 races, 10,000 visitors and a purse (prize winnings) of $40,000.  The races are a very social affair, everyone likes to dress for the occasion and the tailgates are spectacular.  The racetrack is lined with trucks and SUV’s serving tailgate favourites; Southern fried chicken, devilled eggs, homemade treats, fruit and of course a great selection of refreshments and liquors.   Presentation is carefully thought about; luxury napkins, appropriate linen, silverware, flowers and unique centrepieces are used for the occasion.  I joined conversations at a couple of tailgates and enjoyed some of the delicious foods.  Certainly gives me something to aim for at next years point-to-point races!

I'd love to see this gentleman's finished painting from the race day

I'd love to see this gentleman's finished painting from the race day

Impressive tailgates


Curve of Stones leads

Curve of Stones leads



The next morning I was up and out early to attend a Piedmont Carriage Driving Club meet just outside of Middleburg.  It was dull and grey, umbrella weather (rather like Britain)! 

Maryalice had kindly invited me along to this meet, she was there to assist Mark Duffell, who was driving his four beautiful Belgian Draft horses together for the first time away from his farm.  I hadn’t realised that I would be riding in the carriage as a guest and felt extremely lucky when I was asked to join them.  As soon as we were moving, the champagne was flowing and the rain disappeared, perfect!  And when that bottle of champagne ran out there were more chilled bottles hidden in an ice filled compartment that had been specially integrated into the floor of the carriage!  Now that’s a feature I like. 

Hidden champagne compartment in the carriage floor

The drive took us on a mixture of quiet lanes and across country over fairly tricky, uneven terrain which was a little hairy at one point!  Mark’s Amish-broke horses, Willie & Waylon, Chris & Cash did a superb job.  Following our beautiful ride we had a wonderful buffet lunch with our host.  It was an unexpected and delightful day, one that I won’t forget in a very long while.

Photo credit - kind permission of Jennifer Ashley Photography

Photo credit - kind permission of Jennifer Ashley Photography


The next day I enjoyed a morning out in the country with Orange County Hounds.  These prize-winning hounds are a rich red colour and have a lovely sound.  Watching them leave the meet was a wonderful sight.  I was riding with the road whip, which meant our job was to stop the hounds getting onto any main roads where they could be potentially injured.  Our morning was busy and we didn’t see too much of the field but did see the hounds at work.   

        Orange County Hounds


I had to leave swiftly when the hounds were safely home to catch a lift back into Middleburg where I had a wander.  Charming and full of character, it is a town where it is normal to see people in the grocery store in jodhpurs or riding gear, trucks and SUV’s are the transport of choice, licence plates are equestrian related; “KIC ON”, “TALLY OH” “GALOP UP” "TBMARE" and “RDNG FAR” are a couple I spotted.   Middleburg has a strong identity, every shop has equestrian, country or hunting related decor of some kind - even the bakery sells horse shaped biscuits.    

Sugared horse biscuits

Sugared horse biscuits



That afternoon I went to the King Street Oyster Bar where I met with Daniela Anderson, a lady I connected with via social media a couple of years ago.  Daniela is a lady of many creative talents, her speciality being hand-painted horse and hound themed cookies which she makes for tailgates, hunt breakfasts and other occasions.  Extra bonus! - It was happy hour whilst we were there - I’d definitely recommend the Moscow Mule made with their own ginger beer and a spicy kick!  www.countrysideconfections.com

Just how cute are these cookies?!


Later, Viviane and I enjoyed a delicious dinner in The Red Fox Inn & Tavern.  I would highly recommend the crab fishcakes which were full of flavour.  Established in 1728, this charming stone inn is in the heart of historic Middleburg.  It was frequently visited by the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor.  It really is beautiful inside, with comfy chairs and fireplaces and walls adorned with sporting oil paintings.  I love attention to detail and must mention that the loo rolls were stacked perfectly with little fox stickers keeping them tidy.

Following dinner, I met with Bernadette who I also connected with via social media.  As we chatted about horses, hunting, side saddle and Irish adventures one drink turned into a few and it became rather late night!


Photographer Liz Callar had kindly invited me for a drive out on Tuesday to show me around the area.  The highlight being a stop at Horse Country - the most amazing Aladdin’s cave-tack-gift-homeware store I have ever stepped foot into.  It is truly beautiful and I probably could have spent a few hours browsing the unique gifts, antiques, homewares, jewellery and clothing.  I highly recommend a visit.

Horse Country - I could have spent hours in there! I must also mention our stop at Gentle Harvest in Marshall where I picked up some really tasty pumpkin macarons (my favourite sweet treat) 


Wednesday morning the Snickersville Hounds were meeting what appeared to be walking distance from where I was staying in Middleburg.  It was actually quite a fair trek down a quiet country lane and during my walk it did cross my mind that America has wild bears - luckily only black bears live in Virginia and they are rarely seen and very shy.  I was thankful a passing motorist was going the same way.  (Note - it is not a sensible idea to catch lifts from strangers).  

I came across kennel huntsman, Gale Rives Cayce road whipping, who kindly let me ride with her in her truck.  We had a fun, fast paced morning tracking the hounds making sure they were safe.  I gladly accepted the kind invitation to stay for hunt tea and had my first taste of homemade pumpkin cake which was absolutely delicious!  Everyone was so friendly and made me feel very welcome.  A great morning.

Following this I made my way to the National Sporting Library and Museum.  If any library is worth travelling thousands of miles for its this one!  I had been really looking forward to this visit.  The National Sporting Library and Museum, founded in 1954 is dedicated to preserving, promoting and sharing literature, art and culture of equestrian, angling and field sports.

If you read my recent blog post about my recent visit to Slades Farm, Surrey UK, you'll know I'm a huge fan of British sculptor, Nic Fiddian Green.  Upon entering the museum, I was delighted to find one of his sculptures, 'Still Water'.  A truly beautiful piece of art and lovely connection to home.    

Still Water, Nic Fiddian Green

Above: Still Water, Nic Fiddian Green


The current exhibition in the museum is ‘Sidesaddle’, an exhibition of over sixty paintings and sculptures on loan from museums and private collections.  The exhibition continues until 24 March 2019.  All the paintings in the exhibition were beautiful and very interesting but one particularly stood out to me; a painting by Gail Guirreri-Maslyk which is based on a photograph of Irish side saddle rider Amory McMahon by Middleburg photographer, Karen Monroe at a meet in Meath, Ireland.  I recognised the scene straight away.  Bursting with colour, it’s a wonderful piece of work.  You'll see it far left in the image below.     

    'Lord and Lady Twemlow' William Barraud, British, 1840's

Above: 'Lord and Lady Twemlow' 
William Barraud, British, 1840's

'A Confident Approach' Henry Thomas Alken 1850

Above: 'A Confident Approach'
Henry Thomas Alken 1850

Above: The Pytchley Hunt


National Sporting Library

Hours of reading in the library 

Hours of reading


Side Saddle Cafe was next on my agenda - this is somewhere I have wanted to go for a couple of years; as soon as I heard the name!  I loved the decor and side saddle theme.  It is a family run cafe run alongside the family farm, Fields of Athenry.  The food is field to fork fresh, organic and healthy.  I had been recommended the chicken pot pie (super healthy and full of goodness) and ‘Bongo-bongo’ - home-made banana bread, caramelised bananas and vanilla ice cream (totally moreish!)  Following this, I made sure I sampled the ‘Middle Marg’ cocktail from the menu (for research purposes of course)!


The next morning, Maryalice picked me up and we went to follow the Piedmont Foxhounds.  It was a flying visit but we managed to catch them in action.

Piedmont Meet


That evening I had something quite different planned.  I had been invited to ‘The Chef’s Table’ at the National Conference Center, Leesburg.  I caught an uber over and almost immediately felt ‘homesick’!  The chefs table is a four course culinary experience in the working kitchens of the centre.  Around thirty people had been specially invited and it was a great networking experience where I met lots of interesting people.  Each carefully constructed course was perfectly paired with wine by the chief wine officer (what a job title!).  The National regularly caters for over 1000 guests and works hard at creating relationships with local farmers, purchasing as much as possible from them.  This was an opportunity to show potential customers their culinary capabilities.  It was an excellent meal and experience.  I was staying at the venue and following the meal left to find my way back to my room.  This was extremely difficult.  There are over 1000 rooms at the conference centre in multiple wings connected by underground tunnels.  I just could not find my room!  After nearly half an hour of walking, possibly in circles, I gave up and diverted to a bar for a night cap.  When I’d found the strength to start my search it was at least another fifteen minutes before I found my room.  The National has excellent facilities for hosting large conferences of up to 1800 people but I felt extremely lost and lonely in such a huge environment and was excited to get back to the country.


Friday I attended Side Saddle Chase Foundation’s sidesaddle hunt clinic, the first part of the SSCF’s hunting aside weekend.  You can read more about the SSCF on their website - www.sidesaddlechase.com.  British Master Saddler Rob Jenkins of Malvern Saddle Co. Ltd was also at the clinic to show participants his new side saddles.  The clinic was an opportunity to work on skills needed in the hunting field including going up and down hills, crossing streams and ditches and jumping hunt fences.  It was lead by international foxhunter, Devon Zebrovious and was a great start to the weekend.    

From the clinic I made my way to the Salamander Resort and Spa, an truly exceptional, luxury country retreat complete with state of the art equestrian centre.  Salamander’s events calendar is jam packed with creative and special events. 

Equestrian art adorns the walls at Salamander resort

Equestrian art adorns the walls at Salamander  resort


’Cocktails with Cupcake’ is held weekly in the lounge.  Cupcake is the resort’s miniature shetland, small in size but with a big personality.  The Cupcake Cocktail is made with vanilla vodka, dark and light Godiva, housemade whipped cream topped with rainbow sprinkles and it is as delicious as it sounds.  Cupcake arrived fashionably late and made her way around the lounge bringing smiles to the faces of all guests.  She certainly made my day.

Cupcake entering the lounge

'Cupcake Cocktail' Vanilla vodka, dark and light Godiva, housemade whipped cream topped with sprinkles

I made a very last minute decision to join an art class I had seen advertised so I left The Salamander for The Dairy Barn, a gallery and work space just out of town.  We were given step-by-step instruction to create a lovely watercolour fox painting to take home.  It was a very relaxed, informal enjoyable evening.  I'm not going to post my final painting as I couldn't get the foxes eyes quite correct and my fiance laughed at my attempt.  Room for improvement!

I was up early again the next day, Karen and Doug from Middleburg Photo kindly picked me up and we went to the Middleburg Hunt meet at Foxhole Farm.  Having seen the Middleburg Hunt leave the meet, Doug and I popped down to the Piedmont Foxhounds meet a few miles down the road at Upperville.  I was lucky to be able to watch the blessing of the Piedmont Foxhounds which was really special.  We saw them off and followed for a short while before returning to the Middleburg meet as the hounds came home. 

Maureen Britell Piedmont Meet

Above: Maureen Britell

Piedmont Fox Hounds

Below: Blessing of the Piedmont Fox Hounds  Blessing of the Hounds Piedmont Fox Hounds Blessing the Hounds Piedmont Fox Hounds Blessing of the Hounds Piedmont Fox Hounds Piedmont Fox Hounds   Piedmont Fox Hounds 9 year old sidesaddle rider, Sydney Pemberton out with the Middleburg Hunt

Above: 9 year old sidesaddle rider, Sydney Pemberton

Devon Zebrovious out with the Middleburg Hunt

Above:Devon Zebrovious

A seriously impressive tailgate breakfast followed courtesy of Col. & Mrs. Jim Nichols.  A perfect end to my week exploring Middleburg.

My time spent in Middleburg was absolutely superb, it is a really unique, charming town with a strong equestrian identity that I would absolutely love to return to - watch this space!  

Virginia is also know for its wineries and I would have loved to have visited one or two but I ran out of time.

I must also add that there is no public transport/trains/buses in this area and to get around you need to ideally hire a car or be based in the town.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Viviane, Maryalice, Liz Callar, Karen and Doug of Middleburg photo (highly recommend a Facebook follow) Devon Zebrovious, Gale Rives Cayce just to mention a few.  

Photos (limited) from the meets I attended (Snickersville, Piedmont, Middleburg) can be found here (please check back again next week as I still have more to upload!)

I do hope that you enjoy reading my blogs and maybe take inspiration from them.
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[email protected] (Equipassion UK) blog Devon Zebrovious equestrian horses hunt hunting Maureen Britell Middleburg Orange County Hounds Piedmont Salamander Resort travel USA Virginia https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/12/middleburg-va-usa---the-nations-horse-and-hunt-capital Mon, 31 Dec 2018 16:48:22 GMT
50 Shetlands hit the beach! https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/11/50-shetlands-hit-the-beach Would you take 50 sh*tlands on a beach ride tho?


“Tell a gelding, ask a stallion, discuss with a mare… And pray if it’s a pony!”........

I asked Facebook group ‘Shetland Ponies UK’ how they would describe the character of Shetland Ponies.  I am pleased to report that ‘loveable’ was one of the most repeated words.  Other descriptions included; sassy, cheeky, full of character, intelligent, 'hard working, loving, loyal little souls', escapologists, opinionated, naughty, 'little s**ts', 'a little girl's best friend' and 'simply the best'. 

I think Rose Watton summed them up perfectly "Every one has a totally different character from the next, they are cheeky, loving, naughty, mischievous, they know your moods, know their boundaries and push them!  Highly intelligent, they are like a bunch of kids, greatest friends anyone could want. They are soooo much fun with big personalities and huge egos.  Couldn't live without them"

This Summer, whilst on the French coast, I watched 50 (yes, 50! I counted them) Shetland Ponies with child jockeys hit the beach. Can you imagine taking this ride?  I can't imagine this happening in the UK.  All is well that ends well.  Enjoy the pure joy in these photos - 

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Shetland Ponies in the sea

Pure enjoyment!

β€œTell a gelding, ask a stallion, discuss with a mare… And pray if it’s a pony!”

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) beach beach riding blog children horse riding deauville equestrian france horse riding horses shetland ponies shetland pony https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/11/50-shetlands-hit-the-beach Fri, 16 Nov 2018 21:18:31 GMT
Hampton Court Palace Joust https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/10/hampton-court-palace-joust Tudor Joust at Hampton Court Palace


Twas the year 1535 and Hampton Court Palace invited visitors to join Henry VIII, his court and brave knights to an action-packed weekend of jousting at the East Front Gardens.  Not wanting to turn down an invite from Henry VIII I accepted the invitation: 

Back to the present day:  Whilst out and about this Summer I noticed a poster advertising Jousting at Hampton Court Palace.   I hadn't visited Hampton Court in a long while and have not attended a joust before so I was very eager to attend.

Hampton Court Palace, South-West of London on the banks of the Thames was originally built by Cardinal Wolsey in 1515, who spent huge sums of money to make it the finest palace in England.  Henry VIII was so impressed by the palace it became his and he spent as many as 10 years expanding and developing it.  Henry VIII was known for his many wives (all of whom lived at the palace), his love of hunting, feasting, dancing and jousting.  At the age of 44, Henry VIII suffered a serious jousting accident at Greenwich.  Fully armoured, he fell from his horse, which then fell on top of him.  He was reported to have been unconscious for over two hours.  This was said to have turned Henry from a sensible, pleasant monarch into a tyrant.  His jousting career was over and his health went into decline.  His rich diet, said to include lamb, venison, wild boar, rabbit, peacock and swan washed down with up to 10 pints of ale caused his waist line to rapidly expand.  Rich in history, Hampton Court Palace was a perfect location for the joust.

I went along on what was probably one of the hottest days of the Summer.  Upon my arrival I was reminded of the splendour and scale of the palace.  With limited time to explore on this occasion, I made my way to the East Front Gardens, where crowds surrounded the jousting arena (tiltyard).  The attention to detail was fantastic, everyone was in character and I really felt like I'd stepped back into history.  The well protected King made his way through the tiltyard with his court who took their prime viewing, under-cover seats whilst peasants took to the (very well kept) grass around the tiltyard. 

The King was well protected

Prime seats for the Royals

Jousting; a medieval spectacle and the sport of Kings, could make or break a knights reputation.   It used to carry a very real risk or serious injury or even death.  Nowadays, less so thankfully. 

Jousting requires strength, stamina, accuracy and courage and skill.  Whilst cantering or galloping past an opponent, the aim is to hit them accurately in the allowed areas.  Points are awarded for various hits.  

Crowds were entertained with Tudor music and sword fighting displays whist the knights armed.  I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to mount a horse whilst covered in full metal armour weighing up to between 20-30kg especially on a swelteringly hot day.  Heralds and Knight Marshals (all rather handsome) warmed up the crowds and gained support for the knights.  


Out came the knights, who looked fantastic as did their horses.  The armour was a wonder to look at - the helmets had tiny slits; the vision whilst onboard must be next to nothing!  Heralds are there to assist the Knights, guide them and be their eyes and ears as the Knights have such limited hearing and vision.  I can imagine that to be rather disorientating.    



Charrrrrrrggge!  Jousting has always been a thrilling spectator sport and this joust was no different.  Every equestrian loves the sound of thundering hooves.  It was very exciting to watch and the atmosphere was brilliant.  The horses clearly knew their jobs and the skill of the knights was spectacular!  There were many hits and broken lances throughout the tournament.     




Following the tournament, the King left with his court through the crowd as his protectors yelled "Make way for the King".  It was great to see visitors were also (rather spontaneously) in the spirit of the occasion!  

It was a fantastic day out and was great to see history brought to life, I would highly recommend the event and hope it returns to Hampton Court next year.  Here below are more photographs from the joust and in and around the East Front Gardens of Hampton Court Palace.


The attention to detail was excellent


Bringing history to life






Henry VIII's cooks cooked meat over a roasting pit



Hampton Court Palace Gardens


Hampton Court Palace Gardens


Hampton Court Palace Gardens


Hampton Court Palace Gardens

In this blog - 

Read more about Hampton Court Palace   

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) blog days out equestrian Hampton Court Henry VIII history horses joust jousting London https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/10/hampton-court-palace-joust Mon, 08 Oct 2018 11:55:28 GMT
Slades Farm Equestrian https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/9/slades-farm-equestrian Introducing Slades Farm Equestrian

Bramley, Surrey


"Slades Farm is an equestrian centre offering cross-country riding and horse trekking in the stunning Surrey Hills near Guildford.
Guests can also stay in
luxury accommodation, relax, enjoy and escape in true country style."  

Only 30 miles from Central London, Slades Farm is a perfect, tranquil rural retreat.  Lulu and Edward Hutley have lived at Slades Farm for over 25 years.  "As a family we have enjoyed a lifetime of riding ponies and horses. The horses have kept the family grounded and given us many hours together in the outdoors. Caring for the horses, the land and the wildlife has taught us to be mindful and appreciate everything that we have here at Slades Farm.  We now feel the time has come to share our home with others, and have set up Slades Farm to do just that."

I was delighted to be invited to attend the launch of Slades Farm trekking centre earlier this year.  On a bright, fresh morning, I arrived at the stable yard where horses were patiently waiting.  I was shown to the club house where we were allocated our horses for the very first trek from Slades Farm.  I felt most appreciative and lucky to be a part of this experience.  Polo pony, Bodge was my partner for the trek.  We mounted and gathered in the stable yard.  Faith is important to the Hutley family and the local vicar, John, also a keen horseman held a blessing prior to our trek.  


Slades Farm is part of the Wintershall Estate; one thousand acres of beautiful, serene Surrey countryside.  Road work was almost non existent and we made our way up to the top of a hill, stopping to take in the stunning scenery.  The rolling hills of the estate are dotted with dramatic equestrian sculptures created by incredibly talented British sculptor Nic Fiddian Green.  Take a visit to his website here.  Speaking of his work and a passion for the horse, Nic states "As far as I'm concerned it [the horse] is the greatest animal that ever walked on the planet" - I couldn't agree more with this statement!

"As far as I'm concerned it [the horse] is the greatest animal that ever walked on the planet" - Nic Fiddian Green    

"Our aim on each and every trek is that you feel that you have got away from it all, listened to, seen, and felt the natural beauty that exists at Slades Farm. We can sometimes forget to appreciate it all, with the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  We hope you will feel refreshed, revived and ready to go back to the real world."

I certainly enjoyed the natural beauty throughout my trek, Bodge did a perfect job and we had some lovely canters.  We made our way back to the stableyard where a in the club house, a rustic lunch had been prepared and chilled champagne was waiting.  

Slades Farm Club House

View from the Club House   The hospitality was superb and attention to detail was impressive.  Lunch was delicious and home made chocolate brownies are always a winner!  Even the beers were a match for the occasion!

  Even the beers were a perfect match for the occasion  

Home made chocolate brownies - always a winner!
Following a long lunch chatting with other guests, we were shown around the accommodation at Slades Farm.  Accommodation includes The Granary, Owl Barn and Garden Barn.  Each unique and decorated so very thoughtfully.  I fell a little bit in love with The Granary - a wonderfully converted grain store featuring mezzanine floor.  

"Whether it’s a day away from it all with the horses or a weekend in our boutique barns, we want Slades Farm to provide an experience that they will want to repeat, share with their friends and remember forever."

Mezzanine floor in The Granary - a converted grain store.   

I left Slades Farm that day with the feeling I would be back again soon!

....And i was!  Slades Farm XC course opened not long after.  Uniquely designed by Eric Winter (Badminton and Blenheim course designer) and built to the highest standard by Dominic Moore, Slades Farm XC has over 60 inviting fences ranging between 50cm and 100cm, ditches, steps and a water complex.  I have  photographed both Lucinda Green XC Clinic and Hollie Swain Clinic at the venue so far and hope to photograph more clinics at this fantastic venue in the coming months.

Water Complex      Lucinda Green Clinic, August 2018

Lucinda Green Clinic

Spectators were welcomed to Lucinda Green's Clinic, there was of course, tea and delicious home made cake!

In this blog

Slades Farm Equestrian Website

Slades Farm Equestrian Facebook Page (XC and gallops)

Slades Farm Equestrian Facebook Page (Luxury Trekking)

Hollie Swain Eventing Website


[email protected] (Equipassion UK) blog Bramley Cross country Edward Hutley equestrian gallops Guildford Hollie Swain horses Lucinda Green Lulu Hutley rural accommodation Slades Farm Surrey trekking XC https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/9/slades-farm-equestrian Sun, 16 Sep 2018 22:45:49 GMT
Lycetts Festival of Hunting 2018 https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/9/lycetts-festival-of-hunting-2018 I had only walked a few metres when I spotted the Foxdenton Gin trade stand and I was immediately drawn straight in!  I've been wanting to try Martha's Marvellous Jumping Juice for a while.  This new gin is a collaboration between Lady Martha Sitwell and Foxdenton Gin also supporting spinal research.  I was not disappointed; warming with a spicy kick, it is the perfect hip flask filler for hunting on a winter's day.  The temperature at the festival was far from a winter's day though and as temperatures soared, Foxdenton's refreshing Lemon & Cucumber Gin was the perfect choice.  

Refreshed, I made my way around the various show rings.  I was pleased to see one of my local Bloodhound packs; Coakham bloodhounds having a very successful day.  

Coakham Bloodhounds Audrey wins the unentered bitch class

Coakham Bloodhounds

I wandered over to the Inter Hunt relay where crowds were gathered to support their local packs in a knock out style competition.  The course required a need for speed and also control and this made excellent viewing.  The Grove and Rufford were victorious, taking the cup and the £1000 prize money, closely followed by the Essex Farmers and Union 1 and the Cotswold in third.  

I then watched the Ladies Side Saddle Horse in the equine rings.  This was a real pleasure to watch and all competitors were immaculately turned out.  Winner of the class was Mrs Katrine Hirst riding Noble Gladiator.  



The festival hosted many quality trade stands and I drooled over the HiHo Silver Jewellery.  I finished the day watching the junior Inter Hunt Relay who certainly kept spectators on the edge of their seats!  It was fast, hairy at times with a few near misses and a great display of pony club skills!  All competitors showed great team spirit.  Congratulations to Woodland Pytchley Hunt PC 1 for taking the win in spectacular style!  

Here follows some more of my favourite photos from the day.  


[email protected] (Equipassion UK) festival of hunting horses hounds hunting peterborough showground https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/9/lycetts-festival-of-hunting-2018 Tue, 11 Sep 2018 20:06:17 GMT
White Turf https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/3/white-turf White Turf, St Moritz 

The most beautiful racetrack in the World?

Glamorous and chic, St Moritz, also known as ’Top of the World’ is one of Europe's finest ski resorts.  Lake St Moritz,1.6km at it’s longest point, 44 metres at it’s deepest is frozen between December and May.  Horse racing has taken place on the frozen lake since 1907 and has attracted wealthy tourists for betting and champagne drinking.  It now attracts over 35,000 spectators over three weekends in February.

Having picked up a brochure advertising White Turf horse racing whilst I was in St Moritz for snow polo, I’d felt an overwhelming lure pulling me back there.  On hearing that Kent trainer, John Best had three horses out in St Moritz, this pretty much confirmed my decision to go as I now had added local interest.  

Finances were extremely tight and I watched flight and accommodation prices obsessively.  As the date approached, it was looking extremely unlikely that I’d be able to go.  I eventually found a good deal and booked less than 15 hours in advance of my flight, very last minute.  I decided to fly to Zurich and then take a day trip to St Moritz.

I arrived at Heathrow on Saturday 17th February 2018 in good time.  Once I’d checked in (in Chinese as the touch screen wasn’t working) I made my way to the departure lounge.  After a glass of wine it was soon time to board.  The flight to Zurich was impressively quick, a little over an hour flight time.  Having landed in Zurich, I took a double decker train from the airport to the city centre.  I checked into my accommodation; it was basic and shared but within the budget for this trip.

After 2 or 3 hours of broken sleep I was up and out by 0630.  A tram and a train and I was on my way.  Zurich train station is a pleasure to travel through.  It’s clean, tidy, has great shopping and Swiss transport has an excellent reputation for running on time.  I was happy to find a water fountain on the platform, one of over 1200 in the city centre providing drinking water 24 hours a day.  On board the 0707 towards Chur, I could tell I was on the right train as it was packed with snowboarders headed for the mountains.  The journey was absolutely beautiful with the scenery changing from city centre to Swiss villages and snow topped mountains.  Total journey time was around 3 hours including a change at Landquart.

Stunning views from the train

I was so happy to be back at St Moritz again, the sun was shining, sky blue with patchwork clouds.  I made my way to the lake, where I spotted the John Best Racing team in their distinctive jackets.  I went and said hello and wished them luck with their horses; Berrahri, Malt Teaser and Eddystone Rock.

The first race was a harness trotting race at 1110.  I watched the horses in the parade ring for a few minutes and made my way trackside.

Pipilo Jet  


As I saw the horses come down the track to the start, number 7, Pipilo Jet stood out immediately and had I placed a bet it would have gone on him, he had fantastic movement.  He was first in the 1700m race with driver Heiner Bracher.    


John Best Racing  

The 1220 was a big race; the Longines 79 Grosser Preis Von St Moritz with prize money of 111,111 Swiss francs.  I was cheering on John Best’s Berrahri ridden by jockey, Dayverson De Barros.

Eddy Hardouin on board Jungleboogie


(6) Berrahri Dayverson De Barros (7) Rebecca Danz Molly Le Clou

  Nimrod, Berrahri and Amun  

There were 3 horses in the battle of finish, Nimrod, Berrahri and Amun were all neck and neck for an exciting finish.  5 year old Nimrod came in first followed by Berrahri and then Amun.  

I wasn’t concentrating and managed to miss the 1250 race as I was totally fixated on the skiers preparing for the skijoring race.  I am so fascinated by skijoring; essentially a winter sport where a person on skis is pulled by a horse, dog or vehicle, in this case, a horse.  The horses were first walked around by two leaders before the skiers took their places in tow.  Valeria Holinger in her bright pink match matchy outfit looked awesome.  The skiers looked so relaxed.  Fadri Casty was absolutely beaming as was Franco Moro behind Perfect Swing.  A couple were going around the parade ring one handed making it look so easy.  I’ve only once put a pair of skis on at the dry slope at Sandown Park around 20 years ago and it wasn’t pretty.  I can’t imagine being able to master a nursery slope let alone being pulled around a 2700 metre course by a galloping horse.

Valeria Holinger Fadri Casty  

Franco Moro & Perfect Swing Valeria Holinger & Usbekia


Alfredo Lupo Wolf just ahead of Adrian Von Gunten


Silvio Staub & Fit For The Job


The race was so exciting to watch, my heart was pounding just watching it.  Alfredo Lupo Wolf was was the winner with 7 year old Pinot, Adrian Von Gunten second with Mombasa.  Valeria Holiger took the title of “Queen of the Engadine” having collected the most points over the 3 race weekends.


14:10 (6) Robert Havlin and Malt Teaser


The final race of the day was the Swiss leg of the H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship IFHAR.  It was so close at the finish, there was a wait for the official result.  German jockey Rebecca Danz aboard Karin van den Bos' Dynamites finished first followed by Csenge Sutak onboard Lahoob trained by Beverley Deutrom. 

  H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship   H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship


Battle for the finish - H.H. Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship


The day went so quickly, I couldn’t believe it.  Following the racing, I wandered around the shopping marquees and socialising areas listening to music from live musicians.  I then sat and soaked in the atmosphere with a glass of bubbly.




I left St Moritz at sunset and made my way back to Zurich.  

I had the next day to wander in Zurich.  I took a walk down Bahnhoffstrasse; the main shopping street, also described as the shopping mile.  High end boutiques and luxury stores such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel and Giorgio Armani combined with the strength of the Swiss Franc make this one of the World’s most exclusive and expensive shopping areas.  On this occasion with limited time and budget, I didn’t venture too far and sat down with a hot chocolate in Starbucks.

In the afternoon en route to the airport, I came across an absolute gem within Zurich HB station; a Sprüngli store. Anyone who knows me (or follows me on Instagram) will know that I’m obsessed with macarons, my favourite sweet treat.  There were hundreds if not thousands of them, all perfectly lined up in a vast array of flavours including salted caramel, champagne gold, champagne deluxe, vanilla and chocolate.  I picked a selection to savour on the way to the airport and a small box as a present for my for my fiancé.  On the train, I tucked into my selection.  Absolutely delicious!  So light and full of flavour.  Totally moreish. I noticed that the label instructed ‘Please enjoy immediately’ so unfortunately for my fiancé, I did. 

Champagne Gold Luxemburgerli

Sprüngli store at Zurich Airport

Having checked in at Zurich Airport, I got lucky once more and found another Sprungli store.  I corrected my mistake and bought him another box. 

After a short flight I was back at Heathrow and headed home.  


Back at home, I spotted that Berrahri was running at Lingfield Park Racecourse on March 7th.  Lingfield is a local track to me so I straight after work I popped down to Lingfield to catch him in the 4:30 race.  No placing for Berrahri on this occasion but great to watch him in action again.  

Berrahri @ Lingfield 07/03/18   

In this blog - 

 White Turf official website

Tourism department of the Municiplity of St Moritz

John Best Racing

The Official Zurich City Guide

Swiss Federal Rail

 Moreish macarons - Luxemburgerli by Sprüngli

Lingfield Park Racecourse

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[email protected] (Equipassion UK) berrahri blog csenge sutak engadine equestrian equestrian photography horse racing horseracing horses john best racing landquart lingfield park lingfield racecourse macarons molly le clou nimrod photography rebecca danz robert havlin st moritz switzerland travel white turf winter sport https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/3/white-turf Mon, 26 Mar 2018 15:46:25 GMT
Snow Polo World Cup https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/3/snow-polo-world-cup-2018 “Fill your life with experiences, not things, have stories to tell, not stuff to show” has to be amongst my my favourite inspirational quotes.  When my boyfriend asked what I would like for Christmas, I said that I would rather visit somewhere rather than have any presents to open.  After talking about it we decided on the Snow Polo World Cup in St Moritz, Switzerland.  

We planned a road trip for the end of January 2018 (not in the slightest influenced by me being an anxious flier).  Prepared with thermals, snow chains and winter tyres, we took the Eurotunnel on a midnight train arriving in France an hour ahead at 0200 on Thursday 25th January.  Already exhausted being the early hours of the morning there was a lot of driving ahead.  I’d already successfully completed my challenge of driving on the other side of the road when we were in France a few months previously and felt pretty confident but hadn’t driven on a motorway.  A friend had given me some advice, she told me to put something in the corner of the windscreen by the steering wheel and make sure that is always kerbside, I found that really helped me.  Around 0400 it was my turn to drive. I now had French motorways to master and this was actually also my first time driving the car as we had only picked it up from the garage the day before, no pressure.  There were a lot of lorries on the road and to keep on schedule I had to overtake them.  The lanes were so narrow, it was dark with no lighting and no cats eyes.  The rain was constant and torrential and the windscreen wipers couldn’t keep up.  Each overtake was petrifying.  

Fast forward 12 hours and we had arrived in Switzerland and the views of pretty Swiss villages against a backdrop of snow topped mountains.  We drove through long tunnels and eventually made it to the Julier Pass, which connects Graubünden to the Engadin valley.  An awesome route to drive, mountainous roads with steep drops and twisty-turny hairpin bends.  I was lucky to be in the driving seat.

A quick stop along the Julier Pass

We arrived in St Moritz around 5pm and checked into our hotel; the Reine Victoria, the room was wonderfully spacious.  After a 20 minute cat nap we walked to the Kulm hotel for the players and sponsors presentation and cocktail party.  “God must be a polo player” said Reto Gaudenzi, the founder and creator of Snow Polo World Cup as he explained that the weather and conditions in the run up to the Snow Polo World Cup had been ‘challenging' and caused some delay.  He went on to say that the ice had frozen to a perfect depth (54cm).  

A lot of work goes into the preparation to create the polo field on the frozen lake, which is over 44metres at its deepest.  40 men worked over 3 weeks to create the polo field and infrastructure.


On the morning of Friday 26th January I was up bright and early for the press conference.  The lake was a short walk from the hotel.  As I walked over to the polo village, polo ponies were being led over 4/5 at a time.  Around the lake, there are inlets and outlets where rivers feed the lake.  These areas are the only very small sections not frozen.  The lake is vast; 1.6km long.

 After the press conference we watched the polo ponies being warmed up.  I did wonder just how safe polo on snow was, and I am told that it is just as safe as playing on grass.  To avoid balling of snow in the shoes, they are fitted with snow shoes which have a special rubber tubing to funnel the snow out of the back of the shoe.  Two studs are fitted to both front and rear shoes to add traction.


St Moritz is glamorous and chic.  The Snow Polo World Cup is a very social event and guests dress well.  Champagne is plentiful and cigar smoke lingers in the air.  Dogs are welcomed and many of them are also dressed for the occasion.   

With perfect playing conditions the first game of the tournament began at midday; Cartier vs Badrutt’s Palace.  It was great to see local polo player Chris Hyde on form and Cartier took the win 5-2.  I was surprised that despite standing still for long periods of time, I didn't feel the cold at all, if anything, I was too warm!   



Team Azerbaijan Land of Fire took on Maserati next.  It was a tight game with Maserati winning 2 - 1 1/2.  

Saturday, Maserati took on Cartier at midday.  Both teams had had a win the previous day.  The most epic goal saw Cartier’s Juan Cruz Greguoli collide with a goal post.  Cartier were the stronger team and won 3 1/2 -2.


That afternoon, my boyfriend took me on a horse drawn carriage ride in the alpine forest of the mountains surrounding the lake.  On this beautiful ride he surprised me with a ring and asked me to marry him.  It was a very special afternoon in the most amazing surroundings, very romantic.

In the evening we sipped champagne and sampled delicate canapés at the Snow Polo Gala Dinner drinks reception in the stunning lobby of Badrutt’s Palace. Musicians and dancers from Azerbaijan entertained and we learned about Azerbaijan’s culture and tourism industry.  A beautiful country, with warm, welcoming people that I am now intrigued to visit.  I shall add it to my ever increasing list.  We were given a beautiful handmade silk scarf and tie wrapped up in gift bags and ladies were handed a delicate white rose.  The hospitality was wonderful.  It was an exquisite evening.

Sunday’s first game saw Azerbaijan Land of Fire beat Badrutt’s Palace in the La Martina Cup.  Cartier faced Maserati in the final.  It was a very tense game throughout with Cartier winning 4 1/2 - 4 and taking home the much coveted Cartier Trophy.  Dario Musso took the award for the most valuable player and Rommy Gianni best playing patron.


We enjoyed raclette and local beer in a beautiful ski lodge that evening.  

I had a fantastic time at the Snow Polo World Cup and St Moritz.  I was lucky enough to be media accredited and the team were superb, very accommodating and helpful and wonderful hospitality (they even had my favourite sweet treat - macarons).  Our stay at Hotel Reine Victoria was perfect and the breakfast was absolutely fantastic, highly recommended.  Whilst in the hotel, I did happen to pick up a brochure for White Turf which moves me on nicely to my next blog...............


In this blog -

Snow Polo World Cup

Hotel Reine Victoria

Badrutt's Palace

St Moritz Tourism

Discover Azerbaijan


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I now have a 10k+ following on social media.  I welcome all ideas and enquiries from equestrian related businesses that may want to collaborate.

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) azerbaijan badrutt's palace cartier chris hyde equestrian horses la martina maserati melissa ganzi polo rommy gianni snow polo st moritz switzerland https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/3/snow-polo-world-cup-2018 Sun, 18 Mar 2018 12:59:56 GMT
Feria Del Caballo, Jerez, Spain https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/3/feria-del-caballo-jerez-spain Horses, sherry, flamenco and more horses. 

With a few weeks notice, I booked a last minute (standard for me) trip to Jerez in May 2017 and oh my! it was spectacular.

Up at 0300 on a dark, drizzly May morning we drove over to London Stansted to catch our flight to Jerez.  We landed late morning to beautiful sunshine and took a taxi to the town centre where we found our hotel.   

Checked in, we went into town.  We sat outside a restaurant and watched a gathering of Spanish ladies dressed in colourful flamenco dresses with bright coloured flowers in their hair singing, dancing and clapping.  Clearly a very social occasion.  After lunch we went to find the location of the fair, which was The Gonzalez Hontoria Park.  There was an impressive welcome at the entrance to the fair; seven immaculately turned out horses from Fundacion Real Escuela del Arte Ecuestra (The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art)

By day, hundreds of beautiful horses with riders wearing traditional local dress parade the avenues in the park.  Glamorous ladies in colourful flamenco dresses are perfectly poised sitting behind gentlemen riders.  Decorated horses pull carriages carrying groups of friends, singing, laughing and drinking sherry.  Tiny children sit on top of huge horses riding along with family.  It is so hard to describe the scale and splendour of the fair in words.

We stayed at the fair until around 7pm when the park was emptied of horses by police on horseback and it became a party.  Night time in the park has a totally different feel.

The fair at night    

Thursday morning we took a tour on a hop-on hop-off open top sightseeing bus, an efficient way to view the city, both old town and new town.  The cobbled streets were lined by Jacaranda trees in full bloom, beautiful.  Jerez is famous for it’s Sherry production and home to the largest Sherry producer in the world, Gonzales-Byass, producer of World famous Tio Pepe.  We hopped off at the Tio Pepe winery and took a guided tour.  Having learned the history of Gonzalez-Byass, including the ladder climbing, sherry drinking mouse we sat down for tapas and tasting.  Six glasses of sherry later we were back on the bus back to the fair.  

Sherry barrels

Back at the fair we changed for a different form of transport; a horse drawn carriage.  We soaked up the atmosphere of the fair.  It’s an equine photographer’s paradise, I found it hard to put my camera down.  The park is lined by casetas which are pop up bars and restaurants, there are literally hundreds and they are all very busy.  We sat down for a couple of hours for some refreshments and watched the continual parade of horses go by.





That evening, we enjoyed local ham and pizza in Plaza de Arenal before going wandering in the town. 

Plaza del Arenal

Friday, we made our way to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art.

Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art Palace and grounds  We explored the extensive and well kept grounds, palace, saddlery, stables and the most exquisite tack room I have ever seen.  We then went to the evening gala performance of “How the Andalusian Horses Dance” of course we were welcomed with sherry served traditionally by a veneciador and sat down at 10pm.  The show featured classical dressage, carriage driving and work in hand.  The skill and precision is spectacular.  Watching moves such levades and caprioles performed was really special.  The show ended with a standing ovation.

Saturday afternoon we took a train from Jerez to Cadiz and then a taxi to El Puerto De Santa Maria. We had some drinks overlooking the river at La Cristalera before making our way to Centro Ecuestre Las Marías riding centre.  A mare and foal were in the front paddock enjoying a lazy afternoon.  Having entered the courtyard of stables we were greeted by a free roaming micro-pig, named Bacon.  In came centre founder, Jesús Grandes-Melgarejo on a horse cart with a group of children on board singing and laughing.  I immediately got a feel that the centre was a happy place and very child friendly.  Horses were gathered and loaded into a truck.  We took a drive to the beach where I was introduced to Snow White.  We made our way up through the sand dunes, as we reached the top, the view was spectacular, the sun was setting, waves gently and quietly rolling in the beach was empty apart from a few fishermen dotted along the shore. The horses had a splash about in the sea and then we wandered down the beach.  After we’d passed the fishermen we had an incredibly slow and dreamy collected canter. It was beautiful.  Having reached the end of the beach we turned and took a leisurely walk back down as the sun set.  We returned to the riding centre in the dark, gone 10pm and unloaded the horses.  It was a perfect beach ride, highly recommended.  After a very late dinner and having missed the last train, we took a taxi back to Jerez.

Bacon the micro-pig

Watching the sun set on board Snow White Beach riding

Having packed a lot into a short stay, Sunday morning we were up early took a flight back to the UK.

Cheers Jerez, until the next time........

Useful links - 

All photos from this event - Here

The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art - click here

Las Marias Equestrian Centre, El Puerto de Santa Maria - click here

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I now have a 10k+ following on social media.  I welcome all ideas and enquiries from equestrian related businesses that may want to collaborate.

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) blog equestrian feria del caballo horse fair horse festival horses jerez spain https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/3/feria-del-caballo-jerez-spain Sat, 17 Mar 2018 14:06:52 GMT
The Magic of Golega https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/2/the-magic-of-golega The Magic of Golegã 

Having been inspired by my visit to Feria del Caballo; Jerez, Spain in May 2017, I’d been searching for similar events since.  

I came across Feira Nacional do Cavalo, Golegã, Portugal.  After looking through a few event photos, I booked almost immediately, with a fellow photographer, Jo Monck and her friend (who I hadn’t met yet) Celia. 

Jo and Celia arrived at my home on a drizzly November morning and we left for the short journey to Gatwick.  We spent a little too long in duty free and being an anxious flier, I like to have a small glass to calm my nerves before flying.  En route to boarding (and with about 3 minutes until the gate closing) I spotted a coffee shop and had about 30 seconds to savour a glass of rose.  Not recommended, I know, but I felt a little more relaxed.  

After a pleasant flight, we arrived at Lisbon airport in just under 3 hours.  We picked up our hire car and drove to our hotel in Tomar, arriving just after midnight.  

I was up early the next morning to visit Romão Tavares stud on an organised group trip.  I’d had little sleep but was buzzing with excitement.  The journey to the stud was around 2 hours.  It was nice to see more of Portugal in the daylight but I was shocked to see vast areas of land and forest charred and damaged by fire.  The most recent fires in Portugal were one month previous and were devastating to read about.

Romão Tavares stud Romão Tavares stud    Romão Tavares stud

The stud was beautiful; the house full of character and history.  We were warmly welcomed and whilst we admired photos of champion stallions we enjoyed olives, cheese and local liquor.  We met the young horses in the stables and went into the fields with the mares and foals.  Following this we had a lovely traditional lunch before heading back to Tomar.  

I couldn’t wait to get into Golegã and we got there around 9pm, the night was still young!  I’d been told from someone staying in Golegã that the night before, horses had been parading the streets until 6am.  As soon as we had arrived, I got a wonderful feel for the fair, it’s vibrance and atmosphere.  


Golegã is now known as the horse capital of Portugal.  History of the fair goes back to the 18th century.  It now attracts thousands of people from all over the world, who wander and gaze in awe at the beautifully turned out Lusitano horses and riders in traditional dress.  Smoke from roasting chestnuts wafts and fills the air.  Street performers and musicians attract crowds of people to join them in song.  The feel is friendly and heartwarming.  Horses ride up and down the streets riding up to bars, cafes and even into horse friendly discos!  Yes, really.  The streets are full of life and the atmosphere is just magical.  There are continual performances in the main arena in a central square with wonderul shows showing off the finest Lusitano horses and riders.  Around the main arena is a sand track, where horses belonging to locals and those further afield parade, ride for pleasure and socialise with friends.  It is not unusual for a child as young as 4 or 5 to boldly canter past, piaffe or ask their horse to take a bow; their are some highly talented young riders


Having been bedazzled by the fair from the ground, the best was yet to come.  Before going out to Portugal, I had arranged for us to ride at the fair. PM Lusitanos - now Equiliberdade came to meet us on Thursday evening at the main arena and took us back to their house (rented in the town for the duration of the fair).  

I couldn’t quite believe we’d be riding at the fair, I’ll admit, I started to feel pretty nervous too!  I’ve ridden ever since I can remember and I have my own pony who I know inside out.  Riding a much bigger Lusitano stallion amongst crowds of people with loud, dramatic music, extreme lighting and a list of things to spook at longer than my arm, I did start to think we were all slightly mad! We were provided with a lovely platter of local cheese, meats and olives and local wine and sat and chatted for an hour or so, there was no rush.  Half a bottle of red wine later,  the nerves had turned back to excitement.   

We went to the stable area in the rear yard to meet the horses.  “Who is the least confident rider?” we were asked.  “Me!” my hand went straight up.  I was introduced to 16 year old Uivo, a handsome grey Lusitano stallion.  I had my usual ‘please look after me’ chat with him.  Jo and Celia were introduced to Estrumphe and Fadista.  All were wonderfully turned out with plaited manes and tails.  When we were ready, we led the horses through the house (yes, you read that correctly) and into the street.  Once mounted, we rode through a few ‘quiet’ streets and made our way to the centre of the town.  As we approached the main riding area - the ‘manga’ we were given some advice; not to get too close to other horses, especially not mares, not to be too scared and to enjoy.  As soon Uivo’s hooves had touched the sand track, we were dancing.  I could tell it would be a challenging ride for me.  We were running sideways, cantering on the spot and prancing whilst the others walked along calmly.  I likened him to a coiled spring and was just waiting for him to explode.  “Breathe” I heard called to me.  Having been reminded to breathe I began to feel better (I have been guilty of this in the past, particularly in the showjumping arena).  “Let’s trot” called pur leader.  This settled Uivo straight away and he threw his energy into a powerful trot.  

We rode around the arena for a good hour, losing all sense of direction and then around 10pm the horse show in the main arena which we were riding around began.  We stopped to watch.  The music was powerful, I heard parts of Carmina Burana, my heart beat faster, the atmosphere was immense.  I had goosebumps.  The lights in our riding area were now out, with loud music and dramatic lighting, Uivo told me he felt unsettled and we started to dance again!  We took back to the streets of Golegã,  The smoke filled streets were now totally swamped with people.  A group of lycra clad cyclists stopped us for selfies on a quieter street.  We then rode to a bar where we had shots of local liquor, ginja in edible chocolate cups, moreish.  Next up, dancing!  Ducking down slightly, we entered a bar and rode onto the horse ‘dancefloor’ kitted out with disco lights and music.  Fadista showed us how to dance by demonstrating piaffe.  It was very surreal and just wonderful.  After a while we ventured off around the local streets again and got the perfect view of the fair; from between the ears.  Around midnight, we took the horses back home for a well earned rest.

The Horse Disco

Shots (lots of) local liquor Ginja

For the remainder of our trip, we spent most of the day time in Tomar, rich in history with lovely shops and restaurants and of course every afternoon/ evening at Golegã experiencing the magic.   

I will never forget the amazing experience we had at Feira Nacional do Cavalo, Golegã.  Many treasured memories.  I intend to fill my life with wonderful equestrian experiences that I will photograph and blog about.  I welcome all ideas and enquiries from equestrian related businesses that may want to collaborate.

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Who I travelled with - Sussex Lusitanos  

Cheers! Golegã, see you in November 2018

[email protected] (Equipassion UK) blog equestrian golega horses lusitano lusitanos portugal travel https://www.equipassionuk.com/blog/2018/2/the-magic-of-golega Wed, 28 Feb 2018 12:00:11 GMT