Regal and his little helpers

Regal is one of the oldest residents of Trent Park Equestrian Centre and is often seen not far from the reception area, enjoying some time out in the sun. He is also one of the most loved ponies here and children are still asking to see him, or to groom him, especially during those pony days, so famous in this close-knit community of pony lovers. Everybody loves Regal and Regal is taking his role as an ambassador of the centre very serious. Should you want to show him your appreciation, then you could ask a member of staff if you can feed him carrots or mints. (He loves mints, can’t get enough of those.)

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If you have never visited a riding school before, then maybe you would be pleased to know that they are organising these pony days/weeks especially for children that have little to no experience with horses and ponies. So, you do not have to be born on a horse to be able to go to a riding school. Although, in my first days here I must confess I felt like I was the only one who was not born on a horse. But this is just an impression created by the fact that all the staff here is so trained and confident and easygoing. All pony days/weeks are announced on all important social media platforms and on Trent Park Equestrian Centre’ site, so if you wonder how and when to bring your kid here than just follow those for more info. During these lessons, your kid will learn basic things about ponies/horses, how to behave around them, what to expect from them, how to groom them, how to feed them, how to „convince” them to do anything. And you do not have to wait for them, you can just drop your kid in the morning, and pick him up later in the afternoon.

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Since I am here I have seen plenty of these days and many children having the time of their life around Regal and his friends. Those of us which were born in big cities and had no contact with animals in our childhood might fear that these activities could be dangerous for our children. However, the reality is that the children are supervised non-stop while they are here, all ponies are extremely well behaved and friendly and far from making children afraid, this experience has a calming effect and is usually increasing the confidence and autonomy of the child. Teenagers that grew up around this kind of centers and are „working” here as „helpers”, while maybe they are already learning for future NHS exams, are happy, carefree children, that live a balanced, active life, have plenty of friends and are comfortable around adults and animals. I’d say that is a better way to spend you summer holiday as a kid than confined in a room, playing computer games ten hours per day. Do not understand me wrong, I have played computer games as well in another life, but, although playing computer games is a fun, mind-captivating activity, it did not help me in any other way than consumed my time in a pleasant way and, to an extend my energy and my money. I did not make new friends in that period of my life, did not learned much except gaming skills, and I did not achieve anything in my life except „points” or „levels” in a virtual world.

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Even if the future will look more and more like an augmented reality, in which we will not meet any other humans beings or animals, until we are sure that we will transfer our conscience into a machine and we will not need our physical bodies anymore, (although at this stage of our existence I do not understand why we would like that), being out and about in nature and among animals is far more better than spending all your free time hunting pokemons and farming virtual farms. Is it not?

More than that, even if your kid would not turn into a great rider or riding instructor, he/she will still have all his life a vivid memory of an extraordinary day, or an amazing week, sometimes back to a magical childhood, when he met Regal, the Royal Ambassador of The Animals Magical Kingdom.

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Horses & Ponies

Trent Park Equestrian Centre has about 130 horses and ponies; as they say, there is a horse or a pony here for everyone. They are very different in size and colours and shapes, from the tiny cute Vixen, Dancer and Ruby, the three Shetlands that came to TPEC almost at the same time with me, to the majestic Tweak or Maximus.

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The main difference between horses and ponies seems to be the height: a horse has to be 14.2hands or higher when it’s full grown to be considered a horse. Anything below that is a pony. Yes, horses and ponies are measured in hands, from their withers down to the ground. A hand is the equivalent to 4 inches (10.2 cm), the approximate size of a grown man’s hand.

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That is the easiest and simplest way to remember the difference between a horse and a pony. The actual difference is a bit more complicated than that: there are some breeds of horses which stand no taller than 7.5 hands, breeds such as the Falabella horse, however, they are considered very small horses, not ponies. Other differences between horses and ponies would be that ponies are usually stockier than horses, have proportionally shorter legs but wider barrels, shorter and thicker necks and short heads, have thicker manes, tails, and coats. Ponies are better in cold weather. Usually, ponies have also calmer temperaments that’s why they are so popular among children.

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In the end, it’s about what you like, about how you feel on a horse or on a pony, not about any kind of measurements. And some of us love them all, whether big or small, because they are just wonderful!

 

 

First Day at Trent Park Equestrian Centre

Photography has taken me to many beautiful places, but lately, I am really lucky to spend some time at Trent Park Equestrian Centre, among equines. I had little experience with horses and ponies before this time, (actually no experience at all with ponies and some vague experience with horses), some riding courses too many years ago, and those courses were not in the UK. I remember little from those courses, and I knew even less about how life is at an equestrian centre in London.

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Well, Trent Park is not an equestrian centre; it is the biggest riding school in the country, one that has over 100 horses and ponies and a lot of facilities to offer. For those that are as unknowing as I am in the equine world, (because it is a world in itself), Trent Park Equestrian Centre is offering the whole range of services from riding lessons to training future riding instructors and livery yard facilities. And that means, in the muggle world, that they will teach you how to ride if you don’t know anything about horses, they will train you to become an instructor if you believe your future lies in this magic world, or they will take care of your horse or pony if you have one and are looking for a place for him/ her to stay. It is situated in north London, 10 minutes walking from Oakwood tube station, almost at the end of Picadilly line, and is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9.00 to 17.00. They are known as Trent Park, Trent Park Stables or simply The Centre sometimes. Or just ‘where the horses are’ for those who don’t know anything about riding but like observing such beautiful animals and noticed them on the fields nearby.IMG_2954

In my first day at Trent Park, I felt almost like a kid in candy store. It was something like: ‘Oh, look, there is a horse there! There’s another horse here! Oh, another horse! (And another, and another…). Luckily my colleagues are used with overly ecstatic visitors, and they did not make me feel like a lunatic. But really I felt like I entered this fantastic world, populated with majestic creatures, and for a while, after I stepped in there I had to stare at each and everyone and wonder… The first horse with whom I spoke, yes, I am one of those who speak with animals and I believe they understand me, was Garibaldi. It was hard to miss him not only because he’s very handsome but also because his ‘office’ is conveniently placed across the main yard, in front of mine. He is like a guardian of the place, together with Mr. Darcy, (yes, Mr. Darcy like in ‘Pride and Prejudice’), and he is constantly observing us from his ‘clock tower’.

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(Did you notice the clock above the stables?)

I don’t believe I even knew, before meeting Gari, that there are horses and ponies with blue eyes! Did you know that? And some of them have one eye blue, one eye brown, which is even more interesting. (That is a condition called heterochromia of the eye: heterochromia iridis or heterochromia iridum. This condition is observed also in cats, dogs, cattle, water buffalo and… humans, of course.)

I photographed Garibaldi and I posted his pic on my Facebook. By the number of comments and likes t looks like there are many out there like me, horse lovers unknown even to themselves. Maybe the ancestral riders in us are waiting for us to reconnect with these wonderful creatures… I have just done that and it feels magical!