“No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill
For Ruby’s sixth birthday I felt it was important for her to have an experience rather than more toys. She doesn’t have lots of toys, but she has enough. It would just be more to clutter up the house.
Instead, she had to wait until Saturday 4th July to have a two hour trek around Windsor Great Park with her sister.
Ruby plays almost exclusively with her ponies and toy horses; you could say she is extremely enthusiastic about all things equestrian! Therefore, it was a no brainer to organise a riding experience for her.
Tally Ho! Stables was the obvious choice. I met Jenny Yung, the manager, at a recent Athena training, and what they offered sounded perfect for my girls. I wasn’t disappointed…
I couldn’t afford to ride with them, so that meant keeping up with the horses on foot, which was no walk in the park on such a hot day! Strenuous but fun, it was very rewarding to see my daughters having such a great time.
Ruby was a natural – as I knew she would be – and even though she is just six years old she acted like she was a confident, regular rider. Even Emily, my eldest, who is terrified of dogs and at best wary of horses, seemed to find her groove.
When we arrived the girls were introduced to their mounts: Ruby was on a gentle cob known as Banjo (who we were told was a bit of gypsy) and Emily’s ride was a beautiful Bay from Andalucia called Curo. Both horses were perfect for their riders.
As the entrance to Windsor Great Park was a short distance from the stables we followed the horses in the large blue van to the park where they donned their riding hats, mounted up and set off initially down a sandy track. Most of the route consisted of sand paths, grass and some road.
Fairly early on they had to cross a main road, a point known as the Pegasus Crossing, which has red and green horses instead of red and green men! Then we ambled past the Crown Estate Manager’s country pad and were shortly inside the gates to the deer park, which contains some 250 to 300 deer.
They trotted up a hill, and after a while we came to what Jenny and Jean referred to as ‘the copper horse’, an imposing equine statue of George III (this time on a real horse), overlooking the Royal Mile down below him leading to Windsor Castle.
We had a couple of glimpses of the castle at different angles before this point. We didn’t follow the mile road though, instead we carried on through the deer park and back out via a slightly different route. Throughout the ride Emily and Ruby were relaxed and confident on their horses.
There was never a moment that I felt they were not safe. Jenny and Jean were accomplished horsewomen and knew the characters of the horses and their behavioural traits. The horses were always paired up and led by each woman so the girls were never riding alone, which was comforting to me!
Jenny and Jean were very knowledgeable about the park and engaged in conversation with the girls (mind you, my two can talk the hind legs off a donkey so I don’t think it was too difficult for them), and were reassuring, answering all their questions.
During the parts of the ride that I had enough puff to keep up with Blue (Jenny’s horse), I found out that Tally Ho! Stables looks after 35 horses and can pretty much tailor the experience to the ability of the riders. They will take only one person out, or they can easily look after a larger group of riders with mixed abilities.
Jean was telling me that quite a few of their horses had been film stars, Curo had been a soldier’s horse in the recent Cinderella film and a gorgeous, friendly stallion back at the stables known as Forry (abbreviation of Foreigner), a magnificent horse from Belgium, had been in War Horse and another film that escapes my memory…
After the ride I noticed why Jenny’s horse for the hack was called Blue; he had one blue eye and one brown eye, (known as Wall Eye), which is quite rare for a horse. Banjo had this condition as well, but it was harder to see as his fringe was quite long!
The girls were keen to say good bye to their horses at the stables, so we followed them back and Ruby and Emily were allowed to feed them carrots and help groom them.
He knows when you’re happy
He knows when you’re comfortable
He knows when you’re confident
And he always knows when you have carrots.
~ Author Unknown
It was a wonderful experience, one I would recommend for all ages and ability levels, Tally Ho! really do look after you and the scenery is just wonderful. We were lucky with the weather, but they do go out all-year round, except when it’s icy and the horses are likely to slip.
Jenny and her staff are regularly in touch with the park wardens and can always count on them for assistance should it be needed.
Emily is already asking me if she can go back and do it for her 9th birthday, only next time I’m going to make sure I’m on horseback with them! They get 5 stars from me, it was worth every penny of the £80 per person fee. Happy memories are priceless…
To make a booking, contact Jenny Yung on 01344 893700. The Tally Ho Stables website explains some interesting facts and history about Windsor Great Park, which was defined in 1240 by Henry III.
Windsor Castle is the longest occupied royal castle in Europe; built by William the Conqueror, it has been lived in and expanded by successive English and British monarchs since Henry I. The Queen is sometimes in residence at the weekends and the castle’s State Apartments hosts royalty and visiting dignitaries from around the world.
“There is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse.” ~ John Lubbock, (Recreation, The Use of Life, 1894)