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The Sight – New Forest Ponies From The Back Of A Horse


There are several stables in the New Forest area which can organise a ride for you, and the hotel is excellent at providing numbers, although a little loath to do the actual groundwork of ringing up and checking availability for you (are my expectation of hotels too high generally?)


Anyway the first stable I spoke to were quite strict, and peppered me with questions:  "What's your weight?" "er…"  (I'm not being modest, I just never step on the scales.)  "Height?"  "Can you trot?"


I actually used to work in a stables when I was younger and what scared me the most was remembering how abrupt some horsey people can be.  Anyway they grudgingly told me I would be allowed on one ride they had, and I rang off feeling rather terrified (and called back later to cancel – she sounded quite relieved.)  I decided to enjoy the rest of my relaxing day and give the other stable a call in the morning if I could be bothered, or just book in for an extra morning in the spa.


Next morning I was feeling quite energetic (apart from my overworked back) and the sun finally came up.  When I called Forest Park Stables the attitude was completely different, I had a choice of rides, but we agreed I'd better do the one hour beginners' ride.


The stable, based at the Forest Park hotel, is the place for a nice low key ride.  After the phone drilling the day before and even the very long lesson on Icelandic horses and how to ride them this was just simple… essential health and safety, leave your bags here, jump on a horse type day. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of experienced riders and teachers around if you want more tips, but you can take this at the level that's right for you.  If you want to just hang out and waddle along on your horse that's cool, the other group will go for a little trot or gallop and meet you at the other end of the gorse.


I picked the perfect day for it.  I love the New Forest, but had spent the past few days sheltered from the rain and seeing none of it.  To roam among the New Forest ponies and more importantly, their tiny foals on the back of a horse was a new and magical experience for me.  Quite frankly I don't think I would have dared go so close to a foal, but my horse, Breeze, practically brushed past them, and I'll remember that moment forever.


The sun was shining, my horse was a wonderful mount, trotting when I hinted at it, but also happy to walk along.  I soon learned that rather than trying to make her go through the puddles to just relax and let her lead – she knew the ground and she didn't like to get her feet muddy.


I also learned another important lesson, the sun was so bright that I started to get a headache, then I was worried that it was because I hadn't had enough coffee and I was getting a coffee withdrawal headache… when I arrived back at the stables I jumped off as quickly as I could.  I then apologised to the ride leader; "I did enjoy it, but I've got a terrible headache."  She said "Take your hat off."  Doh!  Next time I'll pick a bigger hat (but the same horse!)




£33 for a one hour ride with Forest Park Stables, Brockenhurst

Breeze, my horse

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