I have an opportunity to be stationed in the UK (northwestern Suffolk county) and was curious what the horse community was like there. I have not ridden in two years, but am very eager to get back into it. Prior to my voluntary break from riding, I had 17 years experience, three of which were as a professional. I grew up riding (American) hunters and equitation, did a couple of jumpers, and eventually dabbled in eventing, dressage, and hunted for three seasons in Northern Virginia. I know my way around horses, was certainly not afraid of riding the crazies, but after two years off, I'm going to need a few months to get back in the swing of things.
Is it expensive? Are there good liveries (that's what you good folk call barns/stables, yes? ) in the northwest Suffolk area? What about the availability of open trails/land for riding out? I rode out a lot on neighboring private land in VA, and got addicted to it. I love ringwork, but definitely love to spend time out of it as well. I'm not looking to compete right away, but I'd be a fool to not show at some point while in England!
I'm sure it varies by the stable, but is leasing a common occurrence? I would want to lease eventually after taking lessons for a few months to get back in riding shape. And depending how much time I spend there, I might eventually look to purchase. One of the nicest horses I've ridden in a long time was a beautiful English Thoroughbred. He was really a lovely representation of that type.
There's no guarantee of me being stationed in the UK, but I'm thinking of pushing for it if I can. My other preference would be returning to the NoVA/DC area, since I loved my time there would would be more than happy to return (especially with a decently paying career, not being poor all the time as someone's trainer/groom/manager!). But part of me has always wanted to spend time in England, and something is telling me now is the time to do it, while I'm still young, somewhat single (long story), and not tied down with kids or a horse of my own at the moment.
Thank you for any help you can offer. No rush on this, but the more information and resources I can gather now, the easier my decision will be.
But part of me has always wanted to spend time in England, and something is telling me now is the time to do it, while I'm still young, somewhat single (long story), and not tied down with kids or a horse of my own at the moment.
Now IS the time to do it!
Sorry, can't offer specific advice on the horsey community in Suffolk, but you only live once, and you may never get such an opportunity again.
(I lived in London for 4 years myself -- no regrets and many happy memories).
Sorry I didn't see your message first time round. I actually live in Norfolk, so not too far from where you are living.
Riding around Mildenhall is great as you have all of the forest (Thetford forest) to ride in. However, our set up is a little different to what you are describing. A livery yard is not quite the same as leasing as livery horses are all owned by individuals and then cared for (either on part or full livery) by the staff at the livery yard. Leasing here is not common at all in the same way that it is in the states.
If you do lease a horse you're best off looking in Horse and Hound or the free ads papers for someone looking to lease their horse, or part share. You then need to negotiate with the owner to find a yard that you are both happy for the horse to live at etc.
Otherwise your best bet is to start by riding at a local riding school - I'm afraid I don't really know of any as I live over an hour away from Mildenhall.
You could always visit local horse places and/or put an ad in the free ads to say that you'd like to share someone's horse.
I'm actually in the US at the moment - if you'd like to chat about the options then PM me and I'll give you my US cell phone number.
Thanks for the info Doodlebug. That's very helpful. I've also received some good replies over on Horse and Hound, so it looks like there's a good riding community over there. I would be starting off with lessons, as I'm two years out of riding (rode once last summer, but that doesn't count much) and need to get back into it. Now I just need to get over there!
Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
I have a friend who lived in Britain for years, was a horse person all her life, and found that horses in general in the UK were far outside their middle class finances. The minute the family moved to more affordable locations, life again centered on horses for her.
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