I’ve always liked horses, they have a majestic grace about them. I have on occasion pondered what it must be like to saddle up and take to the open country, bonding with your trusty steed. Truth is I’ve never had that much experience with these magnificent animals and it’s not often you get much of a chance to interact with them in central London.
Hyde Park Stables, one of the last standing mews in Central London with horses allows visitors to experience riding through Hyde Park, one of the most famous equestrian venues in England for over 200 years. The perfect opportunity to meet some real life horses had arisen. Kitted out with helmet and boots, I was introduced to my equine partner for the day, his name was Splash, named because of his white markings that seem to splash over his shiny brown coat. The next introduction was my guide and as a total beginner she expertly guided myself and splash to embark on our journey, reassuring me that Splash was as good natured and steady as they come.
It soon became clear that this was not just a joyride, but also a learning experience. My guide took the time to explain how to sit, what posture I should have, how to hold the reigns, how to slow the horse down and where to place my heels to speed him up. I wasn’t quite sure where my commands ended and her leading the horse began but I like to think I has some influence.
As we entered Hyde Park, it soon became clear what a joyous way it was to experience this beloved green areas of inner London. I had never really stopped and noticed that the circumference of the park has horse tracks, apparently the only park in London with this. As we trotted along, people seemed to stop and take photos and you almost get a strange fleeting feeling of celebrity.
The view of the serpentine as we crossed West Carriage Drive was magnificent up high and as we made our way over I was given an insight into the horses themselves, their personalities and their moods. We ride onto Rotten Row, a broad running track stretching from Hyde Park Corner to the Serpentine. This is the moment my guide asks if I would like to break into a a trot. Nervously but excitedly I accept. Explaining that there are two versions of this a seated or standing trot I mistakenly assume I would be seated but apparently standing is easier. So after a quick tutorial on how to stand at the right point, I’m trotting and I love it.
Before I know it we are turning around to head back towards the Stables, I could ride all day but sadly the experience must come to an end. I ask what demographic normally comes to ride at the Stables and its mixed. families, tourists, but their favourites are these who come to learn how to ride over a few lessons. Seeing them develop their skills and handling make it all worth while.
Arriving back and dismounting I sadly bid my Guide and Splash a farewell. I will certainly be back, Galloping next, right?
Hyde Park Stables is a great day for all levels and can be located at: 63 Bathurst Mews, London W2 2SB
To book a session visit: www.hydeparkstables.com
Written by Rick Hartley
Photography by Nyla Sammons