Gloucestershire is one county in Britain that draws people who love horses like a moth to a flame. Not only is it host to the world famous Badminton Horse Trials reputedly the toughest event in the world and the Cheltenham Festival of Racing, but is home to many world-class riders including Zara Phillips.
The Gloucestershire countryside and accessibility to transport routes make this an oasis for training horses for the many disciplines featured in the Olympic Games such as dressage, show jumping, and eventing. A day at Badminton Horse Trials is to see the English countryside at play and with the spectacular backdrop of Badminton House, is a mix of country sport and culture (oh and plenty of shopping too!
For leisure riders Gloucestershire has many kinds of equestrian pursuits available. From gentle hacks on quiet neddies to something more exciting, experienced riders, novices, and beginners alike will enjoy getting to know Gloucestershire on horse back. Nothing beats seeing the countryside from a very different aspect atop of a horse.
If you have ever dreamed of being a cowboy, you can learn to ride western style at Hall Place Stables. Conveniently situated three miles from the centre of Cheltenham, and one mile from the famous Cheltenham racecourse, the location is everything a rider could want with fantastic facilities. The lessons at Hall Place Stables offer a comprehensive introduction to Western riding whether you are a skilled or a beginner rider. Well-trained western horses are on offer that have been trained by a technique called passive horsemanship, which works on the communication between rider and horse. There are trail rides and lessons on offer and when you have finished your ride, the farm is a fascinating place to wander around featuring a medieval manor, herd of purebred Hereford cattle and a grass conservation project.
The Forest of Dean is a very popular spot for horse riding and there are several stables in the area that offer hacking through the forest, and lessons and advanced horsemanship skills. The rides take you through miles of private farmland and woodland trails, with fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. Beginner riders, small children, novice, advanced and senior citizens can all enjoy a jaunt and the thrill of the open spaces and breathtaking scenery under supervision.
If you have horse mad children, most stables offer pony camps during the summer months so if you fancy exploring or gallery hopping and the kids will be bored, book them into a pony camp for a couple of mornings or afternoons during your stay. Here they will learn to look after a pony, ride, and join in with pony games with other children.
If the adults want to enjoy some horse riding time, there are evening rides available exploring the countryside that includes a stop for refreshments at a local inn. There is an interesting point on drinking alcohol when in charge of a horse. Although a horse is not a mechanically propelled vehicle, they do not fall within part of the Road Traffic Act and it is an offence to be drunk in charge of a horse or cattle! However, you have to be “drunk” and not merely affected by alcohol – however they prove that point!