I first heard about Rotten Row when I was editing a newsletter for a special interest group on horses. One of our members went to England and mentioned it. Rotten Row is the most famous riding trail in Central London. It is three quarters of a mile (1,125 metres) of soft, sandy track. This picture is NOT of Rotten Row, but of riders near Wellington Arch on the south-east corner of the park.
The strange name is said to be because of Londoners' inability or unwillingness to parler français: The name originally, was the Route du Roi, built by William III in 1690 as the royal carriage drive from Whitehall to Kensington Palace, his favourite residence.
It is in Hyde Park, King Henry VIII's former royal hunting park. Riding for exercise and recreation was invented on Rotten Row in Hyde Park in the 1600s. Here, in the late 17th and 18th century, men galloped up and down Rotten Row, while ladies in long dresses rode sidesaddle along the adjoining Ladies' Ride.
Equipment: Well obviously you need a horse. One place to hire one is: Ross Nye Stables
8 Bathurst Mews, off Sussex Gardens, London W2 2SB
(Underground station: Lancaster Gate/Paddington).
Their website says that they have one-hour hacks: virtually every hour on the hour from 7am. Weekends and high season are busy, so book early. Riding hats and boots can be provided.
Cost: £35, adults, £30 children.
The stables are British Horse Society approved (1995 Award of Merit).
I have not done this.
Horse racing is popular and venues for races as found in various parts of the country- Thirsk, York, Epsom, Ascot, Newmarket etc.
Betting on horses can be done on the race course, but also in betting shops all over the country.
At Ascot women dress up and wear hats- some quite enormous concoctions- and men wear tophats and tails. The royal family parade in coaches, and the Queen often has a horse entered.
Equipment: correct dress, a picnic lunch- and lots of money if you intend to bet on the horses.
This wonderful display of horsemanship and skill has this year, 2007, celebrated its cententary in Olympia, S Kensington. For 100 years this has been the location for international show jumping competitions with world class competitors, dressage, displays of extreme skill and showmanship by talented equestrians from all over the world, including the Ukrainian Cossacks ... as well as traditional performances from the Royal Household Cavalry and The Royal Mounted Police.
Other more informal events are the Shetland Pony Sweepstakes and the dog agility show - both of which are great fun and children just love them!
Apart from all this, there are masses of stalls on the upper level selling everything you could possibly want for your horse or pony, from a curry comb to a numnah.
Equipment: If you are missing any pony/horse equipment, this is the place to get it so bring plenty of money. Apart from that, you don't really need to bring anything with you. There are plenty of places for meals and refreshments. Food can be taken into the central arena but glass bottles are not permitted.
Tickets for this fabulous annual event aren't cheap, but it really is a most memorable experience and if you have horsey inclinations, or pony mad kids, then it really is a must see if you are in London in Dec. Check the website for ticket prices etc.
Oh, and for those who are interested in this sort of thing... there is always a member of the Royal Family present at this event. Last night it was Camilla Parker Bowles, (whoever she is.)
London offers a few places where you can go horseriding. One of them is quite close to where we live, in Wimbledon Village.
One can taken them into the local parks and commons.
The horses share some paths with pedestrians, but mostly have their own. Theirs are the rougher paths with all the tell-tale signs of horses!
I generally prefer taking the paths that horses dont go down as I am so often looking around (and up!), I dont look down that much and the last thing I want is to stand in a royal 'something'!
It is a lovely sport - horse riding - and its lovely to see people of all ages partaking in this sport in sucha developed city.
Hyde Park is a place known for its Rotten Row where people ride, including royal guards since 300 years back. Therefore it is particularly special to be able to join them. Richard Briggs has the stables just north of the park in what first just looks to be a residential area full of hotels (but then again, loads of expensive studios in central London are converted old mews). You can come as a group or on your own and it is approved by the British Horse Society.
Equipment: Hats and boots can be rented.