I first started riding in the mid-1970s at a farm in the Chilterns where my childrens’ grandmother, Janet, ran a livery and riding stables. It opened up a whole new world for me, one that I have wholeheartedly embraced ever since.
Looking back, I wanted to ride since I first saw The Horse Soldiers (with John Wayne in the lead – who else?) as a child. Horses – as well as riding – are now a permanent part of my core psyche; I feel right when I am around them – much as I do with dogs.
I have ridden in many parts of the world. The photographs here include me (beardless) on Little John at Lodge Farm, a great-hearted animal, now sadly, deceased; and in the Larzac in southern France during a mountainous and amazing 175 mile week-long trek.
To name just a few other places where I have ridden: the Middle East – where, long ago, I raced a horse (Abla) around Petra using just a bridle and no reins at all; in Italy, Spain, France, Hungary; in Ireland, Cyprus (see pic, right), Australia, USA and many other locations.
In Wyoming I rounded up sheep and then cattle. In Spain there was Excalibur (the horse). Then I rode Pasha (the magnificent) in Portugal, a Lusitano giant who gave me the ride of my life – to that date. He and I understood each other from the moment we first met. He ran away with me once (but what a ride that was!); for the rest of the time we were as one. I have never ridden a horse quite like him; but then he had come back from the dead (diagnosed with terminal cancer, he survived).
In 2012 I rode week after week in the heat and dusty mountains of Cyprus, with beautiful Simona as my companion and (Mr) Presto as my mount. I raced him against Montana and Simona up many a mountainside. Those months gave me possibly the best sustained riding I have had in over 35 years.
More mundanely, and back in the UK, I have had a couple of excellent rides in Windsor Great Park; expensive, but convenient.