North Cheshire Riders

Why you should go on holiday with a horse.


It’s very amusing to be a tourist attraction; the Japanese cameras snapping away as we pose in the ford at Lower Slaughter, admiring groups of sunbathing Liverpudlians gathering as we get our breath back on the sands at Hilbre island -we even get  Americans coming to talk to us as we eat ice creams by the castle gate in Ludlow. All we are doing is travelling about, being tourists ourselves, in our own country. However some of us tourists are horses.

 In these times when it seems that even the North Pole and Everest are set to become mass tourism venues, when visits to the Galapagos have to be rationed, it is very strange to travel about England in the way it has been done for centuries and find yourself alone. There might be crowds in the Cotswolds villages but the hills above are quiet and lonely. Ludlow is always packed but in Mortimer forest you can ride for two hours without crossing a road and the only other living creatures you will see will be wild.

 We are conditioned to think that England is urbanised and ruined, the countryside left either agro-business or turned into a theme park. True, it is no longer possible to cross the country on rural byways, but even close to major cities there are still great spaces where you could have been caught in a time slip; the Middle Ages or even the Bronze Age. The scale of our landscape was built by people conducting their business, be it agriculture, trade or war, on foot or on horseback Somehow coming on new vistas, new places to see, is at the right pace on a horse. Great wide views over grassy moors or downs invite a gallop; charming villages and ancient woodland invite a steadier pace to absorb their atmosphere. And the delights of the views from horseback- several feet higher than pedestrians or car drivers!

 However the best reason for travelling with a horse is that they are natural tourists too. They want to stop to take in the view. They are curious to know what is round the next corner, but they will always know the way back. I have ridden ten miles without a map on open commons and dense woodland where, of the four of us, only one of the horses had been before - he knew every inch of the route.  Horses are keen observers and if you pay attention to them they will help you see wildlife humans alone would miss. Listen to them -they aren’t dumb animals- we are just not listening. Let a horse show you the heavenly tourist attraction that is on our doorstep.