Category: Horses

Horses and Tumbles

Given a spare hour over lunch it is a great treat to go out for a ride. We keep some riding horses who give us much pleasure, among them an Andalusian mare and an Andalusian/Arab cross gelding.  My main aim is to teach them to stop and rely on our aids rather than instantly resort to their flight instinct and for me to have some relaxation time outside of the Castle. It is a wonderful way to clear my head and see what is going on in the fields and woods around Highclere.

I can cover a lot of ground.

Too relaxed, [...]
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Battle Proms at Highclere Castle

On the first Saturday of August each year Highclere hosts a concert with fireworks and cannons known as the Battle Proms.

The day before it all begins, my most important job is to ensure the horses are safely away from all the brouhaha in distant fields, including of course, Sheila the sheep.

Over the last 14 years the concert has built up a wonderful following and this year nearly 10,000 people arrived to picnic, watch the displays and listen to the music. Magically the overcast British skies cleared just in time and it was a beautiful evening. Everyone had flags and balloons [...]
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Spring Playtime

The park at Highclere is now full of hundreds of lambs. They look adorable as they leap around fallen trees, jump into ditches, play tag and collect together in their own crèche systems. It doesn’t take long for them to start experimenting with “who is the bravest lamb”, finding the cracks in fences and learning how to slip under gates. As a result, whenever I go for a ride at this time of year, I end up having to practice my shepherdess skills.  My old Arab mare has learnt to be fast on her feet as we try to aim [...]
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It is all very Highclere

Gales and rough weather have battered Highclere this week, cedar trees have lost limbs but it is nothing like the desperate situation in Lebanon with refugees facing freezing conditions, sheltering in cedar forests without the solid walls that Highclere’s stone face affords us. The instability and unhappiness in this crowded area have probably helped spark the tragedy in France.

To distract ourselves from leaky tiles, cascading guttering and wobbly walls we went to watch a young horse, a two year old filly, being broken in.  We always ask Gary Witheford, an English horse whisperer, who is near Highclere, to help. His [...]
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From Earl to Earl

 

Part of the utter joy of living at Highclere is the contrast between practical jobs (often outside) and the glamorous evening dinners. From evening kit one moment to animals and mud the next.

 

One night we were at a New York Gala, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving to support St Andrews University. Long dresses, amazing fund raising (I think our auction prized hit the top note) and then back today to chasing naughty ponies round fields. I often feed the horses in the winter mornings, usually slightly late and this time perhaps jet lagged. The little chestnut pony, [...]
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Horsing Around

We were all working a late night at the Castle, quickly turning Downton Abbey back to Highclere Castle, and putting furniture, pictures and plants back in place, as the following day we were welcoming a private tour in aid of Burghclere Church.

Sally and I were busy in the gift shop packing up sixty gift bags for the guests (I do love a gift bag they are unexpected fun!). While we were busy chatting away, Bill my very tall grey horse was in the stable just around the corner. He is turning into something of a character, and rather enjoys being [...]
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My Arab Mare

My Arab mare was lame (a stone had worked its way into her foot and caused an infection), so, she was confined to her stable for several days to rest it.  I have, nevertheless, taken her out for short walks around the gardens with the dogs. I always lead her with the rope head collar and long rope to which our wonderful local “horse whisperer” Gary Witheford has converted us.

I have learnt so much from watching Gary work with horses and ponies, from breaking them in to ride, or affirming different behaviour patterns in tricky horses.  I quite often explain [...]
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