Posted on 23rd November 2019
The United Kingdom has an affinity with animals, it always has done, through the necessity of work originally, but increasingly so as pastimes or for leisure. And in particular, our love of horses. Horse related activities are more popular than ever. Since the London Olympics in 2012, more people than ever are taking up equestrian activities. Once seen as an elitist sport, equestrianism is now much more accessible, even to those from large towns and cities who are not in the traditional rural areas so associated with horses and horse riding.
Other forms of entertainment and online-based activities tend to push people away from outdoor activities, the likes of Netflix has people’s attention for hours on end these days, surfing the web or other things in the form of mobile phone games, such as pontoon blackjack online, console gaming, or other indoor sporting activities such as going to the gym. Horses are still adored, though and this is clear by the number of equestrian centres and livery yards cropping up across the country and the number of people visiting the various yards around the UK , with many in more built-up areas hoping to lure city dwellers and commuters into the fresh air and to enjoy, or even discover, a new equestrian sport.
Whilst racing is a huge equine sport, it tends to have more followers interested in gambling and watching as a spectator than wishing to get involved. The popularity of other televised equestrian events such as the Olympics, Olympia and Badminton which display showjumping, eventing and general equestrian endeavours reinforce Britains love with equestrian events, whether amateur riders watching their peers or just followers of the sport. Each time a large event features equestrianism there is equally a surge in interest for first-time riders to take up the reins, find a riding school and realise the dream of eventually getting their own horse. To celebrate the inspirational horses over the years, we thought we’d show our appreciation to some of the greatest horses of all time who may just have inspired new riders, young or old, to take up the reins:
Adored by many young girls in the 1990’s, Milton was a large, stand out grey gelding ridden by John Whitaker and was the sport’s first millionaire in prize money. He won medals galore and two World Cup finals and was the horse of dreams and inspiration for many young riders.
Most prominent horses of recent Olympic Games, Valegro- paired with rider Charlotte Dujardin— has achieved Olympic, world and two-time European championships. Together they have broken every record and are well accustomed to laps of honour.
Proving to young riders that there is no end to a ponies capability, at the mere height of 14.2 hands, Stroller was the only pony ever to have competed at Olympic level, making his appearance at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. The astonishing little gelding won a silver medal with Marion Coakes at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, when she herself was only 18.
Burmese (Cavalry Horse)
A non-sporting equine this time, but seen regularly on household screens in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s ridden by none other than HM Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen’s favourite cavalry horse was a gift from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Queen rode Burmese at Trooping the Colour 18 times consecutively.
Warrior (Film Star)
A successful eventer in his own right- he had already won Badminton and Burghley- but found real stardom when he and rider Jane Holderness-Roddam were stunt doubles for Tatum O’Neal and Arizona Pie in the 1978 film International Velvet. A film that inspired many young riders to never give up on their dreams!
Secretariat was an American Thoroughbred known posthumously for his large heart and in turn his bravery and kindness.. His racing success and achievements were astounding and even warranted his own film in the 2000s. Despite being in a different country and of racing stock, many British thoroughbreds hold his bloodline, and in turn this can be found in many of Britain’s sport horses.
These were not the first, nor will they be the last, inspirational horses getting riders back in the saddle, or perhaps inspiring them for the first time. Each equestrian event featured inspires a new wave of rider and keeps the sport of equestrianism, and Britain’s love of horses, alive for generations to come.
Have you been inspired to take up the reins and either discover or re-discover riding? We’ve several yards featured on LiveryList that are based at Equestrian Centres or Riding Schools, the perfect place to get in the saddle and experience horse ownership first hand!
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