Herefordshire may not have featured very far up the list of H&H’s “horsiest counties” in 2010, but that’s due to a lack of “big names”, not a dearth of horses.
Like its neighbours Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, Herefordshire is among the most pleasant counties in which to own a horse. There is lots of space, quiet lanes and plenty of “off-road” hacking. Grazing, livery and hay are nowhere near as expensive as in more fashionable areas, and equestrian properties, while highly prized, don’t reach the staggering prices they do in the south-east.
The county has a number of strong riding clubs and Pony Club branches, with plenty of affiliated and unaffiliated competitions. There are 12 packs of hounds hunting the surrounding countryside.
It also has particularly strong links with point-to-pointing and National Hunt racing, with the trainers’ pyramid topped by Venetia Williams, one of Britain’s most successful jumps trainers, who won the 2009 John Smith’s Grand National with Mon Mome.
The county is also the birthplace of two of the most successful National Hunt jockeys of the past 30 years — Peter Scudamore and Richard Johnson, who both attended the now-defunct Belmont Abbey School near Hereford.
There are two affiliated horse trials in the county — Sapey and Homme House, which held its inaugural event last year. Local event rider Alice Pearson became the toast of the county after she jumped a clear round at her first Badminton this spring.
Hereford may seem remote to some, but via the M50 and the A40 it has excellent access to big equestrian “megacentres” such as Hartpury College, Cheltenham racecourse and the Wales and West show centre.
Coming up in Herefordshire
16 July: South Herefordshire hunt supporters club summer fun ride, Mynde Park, Much Dewchurch. Tel: 01981 580562
31 July: Hay-on-Wye Horse Show, Nantglasdwr Farm, Hay-on-Wye. www.hayhorseshow.co.uk
2 August: Homme House affiliated horse trials, Much Marcle Tel: 01885488803
23-28 August Erik Herbermann dressage clinic, Arrow Equestrian, Pembridge www.arrowequestrian.co.uk
7 Sept Lucinda Green cross-country clinic, Hilltop Cross-Country Course, Ledbury. www.hilltopxcledbury.co.uk