I have often ridden over areas of land, that I thought were free to roam by us none landowning proletariat. Not so it seems, to my everlasting shame, I have been ignorant of English Land Law. While Scotland has a Right to Roam Act, England alas, has not. The saving grace in all this, are the myriad of Bridleways and Footpaths, Permissive Ways and so called Green Lanes. These are historical rights of way, built up over generations, but sadly, are being little used by the Smart phone weilding public.
I fear that in the years to come, landowners will find any excuse to rid ‘their’ land of the footfall, of multiple visitors to the countryside. Horse riders, now afeared, due to heavy vehicular traffic upon the roads, reduce themselves to Arena work and competitive rides, where traffic isn’t an issue. This is to the loss of all horse riders. However, there are a few intrepid persons, intent on claiming back the Bridleway et al, I include myself in this, we must never give up on these highways of the ancient Packhorse and Tinkers Cob.
A beautiful day. Thirty miles across the Cheviot Hills, Northumbria National Park UK. On the 1st August this year we left the tiny Hamlet of Cocklawfoot, which nestles at the foot of the Border Ridge, between Scotland and England.
A short ride to Sourhope, and then upwards into the wild beauty. It’s a little known fact, that these hills have seen much history, from raging battles to thieving and rustling of horses and cattle. The Romans made the first real lasting impression, with Vine Terraces, and Roads.
But we are here to travel to Alwinton, via Mounthooley, Goldscleugh Langleeford, The Dod, Linhope Spout, Alnham and finally Newton Farm just outside the “One Horse Dorp”, that is Alwinton.
Fifteen hours later we arrived, a bit wet, and weary, but happy in the knowledge that I had repeated this ride, that my friend and I, Bobby McCaw first did in 2008.
It was fun then, and it was fun still.
My thanks to Rachel Ardley and her horse Enar, who accompanied me on this venture.
The nearer one is Dolly, and the other is Jacob who is about 25 years old. Dolly is still a youngster at about 6 years old, both are delightfully cheerful and totally irrepressible. They make my day. Just thought I’d bring them into the equation.
I’ve had some wonderful memories of rides with Gracie and friends across the years. If any horse helped me, it was Gracie, staunchly loyal, opinionated, and physically strong. She took me across many hills, valleys and numerous miles of country. Never baulked except when she sensed danger, and there was a few times. It took me a while to realize that what she was doing, was protecting me and herself from soft ground, faulty bridges, and many other things.
Partially retired now, I look at her and smile, they say they don’t live as we do, but I’m almost sure they warm to us, perhaps even accept us, but never ever does that acceptance become total.
She swishes her tail now quietly surveying her Kingdom, keeping two young geldings in line.
As you know, Casey has been with us now for a few months. I had him professionally started, reasons being?…I’m getting older, I no longer bounce! Today, was a training day for him, introduction of the Missing Link Bit. I already have one of these bits, I love it, so do my horses. So good to teach self carriage and collection. I’ll get round to posting a picture of it. In the meantime, you can find one on thedisciplinedride.com Hosted in YouTube by Pat and Deb Puckett.
Casey was a little miffed at having to accept a bit, after all he’s had a few weeks off! At first he pulled away, but second go, he was fine. He rolled the Cricket for quite some time, until he felt able to relax, which he did. We also practiced removal of the bit and bridle, getting him to lower his head. Again it’s new, fourth go round, he did good.
Casey, a Tri-coloured Leopard Spot Appaloosa. He arrived a few months ago, I collected him from some good friends who were retiring from horse breeding. He’s just three, rising four. Nervous chap, and a little insecure. He was away for professional training, and came back looking fit and in condition. He’s now growing well, and dispite his insecurity, has accepted all his groundwork training well. He has been backed, and happy with the western saddle on.
He’ll be left all the summer and winter to grow and mature. He’s a nice horse.
It was a dismal ride on a beautiful evening. Unfortunately, my horse Toby, had his own opinions. All he was wanting to do was turn for home, which wasn’t going to happen. So instead of the usual once round the forest, it was twice, to prove a point to Toby, the the wrong thing was hard……
In other words he was made to work harder, when if he had done the right thing, he could have been home earlier.
It’s been a mixed bag of weather, plus I haven’t felt too good. It seems age has caught up with me, and after two heart attacks in three years, I do feel weak at times. It’s a short term event, maybe a few days, but very tiring and debilitating. This is where my horses rescue me from indulging in my own self pity, such as it is, it’s more an anger at getting old. Sort of “Rage against the Machine” moment.
These two are my youngsters, just love ’em!
All three together, Gracie in the middle, the senior mare. She keeps them all in line, and me to be honest!