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, I was riding through an old woody track when a bird, a pheasant, shot out and under Lara, whom I was riding.
She dived sideways, which I sort of did too, and then jumped and spun round, which I very much did not do too. I therefore exited stage right at some speed straight into a bramble bush as the force of her gyrations threw me round.
Winded and down,Maggie called out to see if I was alright, which I was although I was practising my yoga breathing and checking round my body to see if it all seemed ok. Maggie then rode carefully in pursuit of Lara whilst I slowly stood up, which also worked out ok, and walked back through the woods, which took the stiffness out. I hopped or perhaps hauled myself back on Lara again and we returned to our ride.
I was fine: a bit stiff in my neck, side and back but fine.
This however brings me to an event we are holding here at Highclere this summer for Spinal Injuries on July 5th. The main centre of research and support in southern England is at Salisbury Hospital and last year, needing little persuasion from an amazing woman, Annie Maw, I thought it would be good to raise some money for them.
Annie Maw was not as lucky as I was. She is however indefatigable, ever elegant and achieves a huge amount from her wheelchair. The charity and its team provide such support to those with utterly life changing accidents. What is rather wonderful is that Julian and Emma Fellowes are also going to come along that evening. I think Lady Mary fell off once in Downton Abbey but into water, which I would rather not achieve.
After some research, I have now bought myself an air-jacket which inflates when the lanyard is detached from the saddle. It looks quite neat and it is an extra layer to wear as well which is good news as, unbelievably, we have just had snow – at the end of April!
Very glad you are allright, Like once Prince Philip said, pheasants are such stupid birds, they always end up where you dont want them, I myself ended up early in the morning driving trough the country with a pheasant on my windscreen. Lucky the screen wasnt broken and the pheasant just went away if nothing had happened just leaving some feathers as a souvenir….
So glad to hear you are okay! You just never know what is going to set a horse off! The vest sound very interesting. Regards from Canada.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
You fared a bit better than I did. I live in California, it had been raining about a week ago and my riding partner had a raincoat!
Needless to say it stopped raining so she passed the coat off to someone at “our ranch”, my horse thought it was a bird in flight and I came off injuring my left lat muscle.
I’m sitting here still recovering!
Where did you order the vest from? I think I need one.
The Jacket sounds like a wonderful idea! Glad you are okay.
I think the jacket is a good idea – hopefully if you have it you don’t need it!
Fortunately you re allright. I have a good friend who was not that fortunate. Although he knows how to fall (Judoka) he lost an eye from the fall of a horse (on a stone). I think it is wonderfull you support good causes. I live in a small castle myself (in Belgium) but never any time to think/look if we could do anything like that. I was passing by your property yesterday (from York to Belgium) but could not find the address of your property or I would have come to see it for a half hour. Anyway, it gives me a good feeling you were ok after that fall of the horse, you look like a nice person, so that makes my Saturday. Good luck with all you do lady Carnavon.
You will have to come back and see us another time!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I am glad to hear that you are fine, although the fall must have been a bit of a shock initially. Just a suggestion (I don’t know if it is feasible) if you could perhaps have a dog or two accompany you on your rides, it might help to ward off such an incident. Great to find you you in high spirits despite the mishap. I think I perhaps should sum it up as “being shaken not stirred”. Have a wonderful weekend!
I quite often do ride with the dogs but thought I would have a quiet ride without them – if I go out on my own I always take the dogs…
We had Arabians for 10 years here in the US. We raised and showed them but we had friends that used them for trail riding and they were not very reliable. They are beautiful but rather “high strung”! i think you should consider a nice older horse with much experience with pheasants and other distractions. I’m sure the Earl was not pleased to hear of your fall. Love your blog and look forward to more to come!
I was so happy to receive the email this morning of the blog! I had been reading on your website.
Wonderful greetings from Golden Valley, Arizona, USA.
Thank you, Alice.
I’m glad to know you are okay after such an initial shock. It’s a good thing you were wearing proper clothing too or you’d have been all scratched up from those brambles. I’ll bet you were sore the next day, as is always the case after a fall like that.
Thank you for supporting such a worthy cause. It’s people like you who are the greatest help for causes that need help to help others. Bless you.
Here in east central Kansas, we have had tons of rain, 9 inches 4 days ago and nearly two inches yesterday. My irises look so beat down and forlorn; however the yellow more standard ones seem to be okay. “Beverly Sills,” named after the opera star, is a gorgeous apricot, and they are water logged as can be. Too bad. Next year.
It’s good to know you are in high spirits after such a fall. Good on you!
It seems to get worse before getting better and my neck was a bit stiff. In the past however there were no proper riding hats at all. That is definitely an improvement
Very thankful for your health and wellness. Our daughter had horses when she was younger. Beautiful animals but so strong. She enjoyed many years without a mishap and has traded horses for raising goats!!! She loves her hobby and it keeps their family busy. Again, very thankful you are well!
I have not moved on to goats yet, at various times my son wanted pet pigs and a cow. Both so far avoided!
Please be careful when you go out and about. My fall from a horse was my last time on a horse. Unlike you I did not get back on – I have since regretted it!
Please …Take good care of yourself!
I so enjoy reading your blog about life at Highclere, which I hope to visit some day. I am glad you are fine after your fall. Greetings from Virginia!
I’m so thankful you’re not hurt any worse than stiffness. Been there, done that. You’re horses are beautiful, too. Thank you for using your home and your influence t o raise money for such a worthy cause. Take care.
Hi! My name is Diamond! I’m very glad to hear you are okay! I am a 24 year old American who has been following you for quite awhile! I love the work you do and it has inspired me to do good in America! I have come from America to come to your opening day on Monday May 2nd! I truly hope there is a chance for me to just say hello to you and thank you for being an inspiration!
Glad you’re ok!!
The air jacket sounds brilliant!
What a fright that must have been! I took a fall from my first horse, at age 16, that left me with a spinal injury that went undetected until I was in my 40’s! Bone spurs had formed in my neck at C5 and began to cause numbness in my arms. Evidently that vertabrae had been fractured when I did a tuck and rull type of fall. (Dobie was running fill tilt and NOT stopping!)
At my venerable age of 64, I now NEVER ride without helmet, proper boots, etc. because the older one gets…the HARDER one falls.
I applaude your event coming up. Wish I could be there.
Pardon my spelling errors! Vertebrae….roll…I was typing around an insistant cat who needed to share my keyboard space…
Great to hear you are still riding despite your fall. I was wearing a back protector but landed on my right hip and low on the back. I don’t really bounce and find the leaping back on is less a vault and more of a clamber…
I am truly glad you were not hurt, falling from anything is scary! I enjoy reading all your blogs and hope someday be able to come to England again and see Highclere Castle.
Best regards from Canada.
So glad to hear you escaped from any harmful injuries! You have my admiration for all of your hard work for others, and your willingness to share these little glimpses into your life.
I’ve never ridden a horse in my life, and think I might be too timid to do so. Of course, I don’t have a horse, or any friends that do, and no riding stables around here. (It’s a bit to sweltering here, hot and humid. Probably not a good location for anything equine. Or us!
From sunny, often soggy, and always humid, Florida.
So very glad that you were not injured…love your blog and good luck with the inflatable jacket!!
Like everyone else, I am happy you are not any worse for the wear. I do hope that stiffness goes away quickly. My own fun last fall was a very high spirited quarter horse who decided to dart suddenly on the bridal path. My small boot went through the stirrup on one side tipping me over and dragging me through the berry brambles. I managed to loose my foot from the western boot and roll a ways. The most I got was lots of scratches and a very bruised ego. The rest of my family were present and once they were sure I was okay, ribbed me mercilessly for days. Looking back, I would have done the same to them. We are a upbeat sort of family and laugh at most things thank goodness. Beautiful horses. Have a lovely weekend! Constance
I ride in wide stirrups so I can part company from the horse, – I do try to take all precautions but want to keep do things I enjoy!
A bird in hand and you in the bush – what a shocking moment. I am so glad you bounced back unharmed. We have experienced such life changing moments with two of our friends – one also on horseback who received a broken neck but miraculously made a full recovery and another in a surfing accident who unfortunately became paralyzed. Thank you for your kindness, devotion, and compassion to support such charities and make the world a better place. Awesome idea for the air vest. God bless.
That’s a very good turn of phrase ! I am sorry for friend in the surfing accident.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What a great tale to tell!. You have earned a pheasant feather to wear in your hat!
In the scene were, Lady Mary in Downton Abbey fell off her horse, it wasn’t the horse that was distracted
she was, for good reason too as the tale goes…. But all ended well!
It is wonderful to know more of the great charity work you are involved with.
Lady Mary it appeared, didn’t have quite the heart as you do!
Actually I think in real life Michelle Dockery did a great job sitting side saddle, although her character did sometimes take a fall…
Dear Lady Carnarvon
Yes! I To Think in real life that Michelle Dockery did a great job.. sitting side saddle!
Maybe if a fall is needed this would be the best place to sit??!!…
I have loved Downton Abbey and hope in the future, to visit Highclere Castle!
I suffer home sickness!.. So warming, thanks to you… to visit!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I think this incident reveals your wonderful tenacity for dealing with setbacks in life: when something comes along out of the left field, and knocks us down, to get back on the horse and problem-solve a solution to minimise the chances of getting knocked down as badly again, as you have done, is an inspiration to us all.
Of course, so are amazing individuals, such as Annie Maw, truly inspiring, so I have jumped on and bought tickets to support this worthy cause. Accompanying me will be my son, who recently won an Australian engineering student competition designing a unique vertebral body replacement system, to address bone injuries and pathologies of the spine.
We sincerely hope you are continuing to recover fully and greatly look forward to attending the Southern Spinal Injuries Trust event at Highclere.
I am looking forward to seeing you then ! We have some specialists coming along, plus some of the charity and those who are being helped. I hope the weather is kind and you can see a bit of the gardens too.
Dear Lady Carnarvon
So pleased to hear you are ok, what beautiful horses, what a wonderful idea the jacket sounds.
Love receiving your blogs, thanks for sharing your life with us.
I now have the jacket and it is very light and neat.
Dear Lady Carnarvon, as all have stated before, thank goodness your are ok. As a rider myself, I know the un pleasant feel go being unceremoniously un seated. But as a rider, as you know you get up and back in the saddle. The air vest sounds wonderful, I hope they have them in the states. Keep up the great works with the charities. Be well. Desiree.
You do feel a twit when you fall off and I was annoyed I could not go with her. Lara is about 15 hand 2″ which is a good size and not too big too.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I’m so happy that you were not hurt. I just returned from spending a month in the UK and visiting your beautiful home while I was there. I found the pheasants to be terribly dangerous to drivers as well! We (being new to this) would stop and try to take photos of them and by the time we left we realised what a nuisance they were to drivers and obviously horse and riders too. Only the sheep seemed to ignore them and the lambs were mildly curious. I believe that I was there the day you had reopened after closing for storm damage. It was a beautiful day and easy to see why you so love riding the grounds.
You are right, and the pheasants do tend to run the wrong way as you approach in a car. We are still clearing up from the storm and putting back fences broken by trees. The ground is still so soft we are trying not to leave muddy tracks.
I don’t think the average person can grasp the magnitude of the job you face with the upkeep of the castle and grounds until you see it in person. My hat is off to you! The view in all directions is quite breathtaking. Thank you for opening your home to share with us!
I do love hearing about life at Highclere. I visited in 2013 on a summers day and after a lovely walk through the gardens I promptly fell asleep under the trees.
I am from Melbourne, Australia and keep my own horses. The vests are a fantastic idea. Horses being a flight creature by nature will shy at what we think is the most ridiculous thing, and I’m sure some actually take delight in it.
‘Did riding as a youth in the Forest Preserves outside Chicago, but no horses for me here in Greece.And I remember my horse trainer saying:” just like swimming, and climbing a ladder: always do it ‘with a buddy’ “!Happy to read that you are safe and well, take care of that stiff neck, and yes , now there are riders’ vest with “air bags” for neck, back, hips, etc!Wow. Hope the weather is better and there is no more SNOW, or mud…sending some Greek sunshine to Highclere.
So glad you are okay after your spill!
I am glad to hear you are OK, I would like to mention that Arabs are high strung horses . I was wondering if you ever rode a Tennessee walker ? they have the best ride of all the horses I have ridden .they have a great gait .I watched the special on Highclair castle ,Very interesting .
Dear Lady Carnarvon,, I am so relieved you are OK. After your fall. I had a little red made that used to do that to me all the time. If she would get that feeling like she was looking at dead people in the corner she would drop her back and spin around like a reining horse (that she wasn’ t) and just leave. I would laugh to my self and dust myself off and back up on her back I would go.. One time we going along at a nice forward rhythmic trot and she saw just a little tiny green thing in the grass. She stopped put her head and neck down to get a better look at it. Well I wound up on her neck holding onto her ears and the reins well she just lowered her head more and I landed on my feet facing her still holding onto the reins. She just looked at me as if to say why are you there and what happened? And where’s that green thing that was crawling across the path My friend who was with me laughed so hard she wet her britches. I must say it was a sight to behold. I still don’t know how i landed facing her standing up and still holding the reins. I would like to just say Dear Lady Carnarvon I think you are wonderful! I love Hyclere and would love to visit your home and cherish the opportunity to meet you. I think we could talk hours about horses and British History and all kinds of topics. God Bless You! God Save The Queen! And I hope we can become chums on FB. : )
My courent pony I own trampled his previous own after he spooked at a pheasant. She fell off him and he trampled her causing serious injuries. She never wore any body protection. We currently have our horses on a large competition yard. Most of the parents don’t enforce to their children about wearing body armour. My daughter had a bad fall practicing for a showjumping competition where her big Frisian cross nearly fell on her but not only that the jump posts had toppled over and they both was inches from falling on them. So we went out and bought her a more up to date body protection. We first bought an air jacket but soon took it back when I was informed that when they go off they go with a bang. So I could t risk my horse running and leaving my daughter stranded as he stays with her if she falls. I’d like to say to any one thinking of getting an air jacket, is to think about what there horse or pony would do if it was to spook at a loud bang.
I’m glad you was ok after your fall.
Wow cuz this is really greatexcellent work! Congrats and keep it up
What a mean and I’ll mannered thing to say. I am an equestrienne, and the attention drawn to the inflatable vest may well save other riders, including myself from devastating injury.
Because the blog was not useful to you does not mean it wasn’t useful to someone else.
Do you remember Lady XXXX(I cannot remember her name, but she spoke in The House of lords in defense of the charity for people injured in riding accidents. She highlighted the facts that many jockeys and people who work with horses need financial support. I have always been touched by her kindness when people enjoyed the horse racing but did not really want to know the cost to those who trained and rode the horses. Take care… I don’t ride, sadly, but I am trying to persuade my friends that I really, really don’t want to ride when I visit them ! I used to visit my uncle’s farm in Kent and their neighbour was always trying to persuade me to ride (a particularly fine ) hunter, but the animal was always biting field mates so I always declined as vociferously as I could !