Two-hour beach rides cost £60 and are suitable for riders who are confident cantering in open spaces.
Minimum age is 12 years.
Available Oct-April (day time rides; mornings only at weekend and during school holidays), May and June (evenings only). 1 4 Eat Manor House Hotel Studland Bay BH19 3AU 01929 450288 themanorhousehotel.com Beach riding I ’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad nervous on arrival at Studland Stables.
Despite spending many weekends at my local stables during my teens, it had been a decade since I last rode a horse.
Yet there I was on a drizzly winter’s day in south Dorset, anxiously waiting to meet the horse that would be my companion for the next couple of hours.
The riding stables on the Studland Peninsula have been active for many years; in fact, the name Studland is derived from the Anglo Saxon word stolland, meaning ‘stud ranch’.
Now owned by Stuart and Helen Stiles, who relocated to south Dorset from London three years ago, the stables are ideally located in an area with limited traffic most of the year (summer tourist traffic an exception), a variety of scenery and a diversity of terrain.
The wealth of tracks and routes means Helen and her team of staff can take people of all riding abilities on hacks through forest and heathland or, for more confident riders, along the coastal ridge Dorset Country house hotel with stunning views across Studland Bay.
Fantastic lunch and dinner menus. Let the salty spray and whistling wind invigorate your senses on a winter beach ride in Dorset Words: Tor McIntosh Pictures: John Harding near Old Harry Rocks, with its sweeping views of the Jurassic Coast.
Between October and June, however, Studland’s four-mile stretch of sand gives riders a rare opportunity to experience the thrill of cantering beside or through the waves. looking out to sea Photo: Peter Lloyd/Geograph Rectory Cottage B&B Studland, BH19 3AU 01929 450311 www.rectorycottage.co.uk — 5 a lifetime’s ambition Following Helen’s lead, we trotted along the water’s edge before she casually asked if I wanted to up the tempo and try a canter.
Not wanting to miss an opportunity to tick something off my Bucket List (a rundown of things I must do before I ‘kick the bucket’ – number 67: canter on horseback along a deserted beach), I found myself nodding enthusiastically.
Muttering repeatedly the only Spanish I know: “la cuenta, por favor?” in the vain hope that hearing some Spanish would ensure Calé treated me gently, our rising trot gradually turned into February 2011 a rhythmic canter.
It only lasted a minute, but it was certainly an exhilarating minute.
Few activities can make you feel so alive as cantering on horseback along a beach, while the wind whistles past you and the waves break beneath your horse’s stride.
Easing to a halt just before the most popular nudist beach in Britain, which, not surprisingly, was empty on such an overcast winter’s day, I was secretly delighted when the photographer asked us to canter along the beach again to ensure he got the shot.
Me? Nervous? Not at alI – I was hooked. 1 Beach riding at Studland is only allowed in winter 2 Meeting Spanish steed, Calé 3 Horseback gives wonderful views over the heath 4 Views stretch to the Isle of Wight 5 Cantering along the beach is a liberating experience 84 COUNTRYFILE COUNTRYFILE 85
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