A heavy hint that you’re entering an equestrian haven when you cross the border into Wiltshire is the sight of eight white horses carved neatly into the hillside. And if you’re looking for hard evidence of its horsey credentials, a look down the addresses of the world’s top eventers should do the trick; Andrew Nicholson, Mark Todd and Tim Price all call it home.
We round up some of the best hotspots for horse lovers in the county…
The tack shop
Wadswick, near Corsham
Step into this country emporium to buy a hairnet, and you will leave laden with a new wardrobe for every eventuality. The sprawling selection of bits, breeches, gifts and feed has come a long way since the store’s first product line of homegrown potatoes when it opened its doors in the 1980s.
Opening times: Mon-Sat: 9am-5pm, Sun: 11am-4pm
The equestrian centre
West Wilts Equestrian Centre, near Trowbridge
Riders from the surrounding counties flock to this Mecca for competitions and training, from unaffiliated hunter trials and evening showjumping to an intermediate horse trials. With a 30.5x72m indoor school and two outdoor arenas, competitors aren’t short of space to clock up some mileage.
The picnic spot
Barbury Horse Trials, near Marlborough (pictured above)
If we were charged with creating a Visit Wiltshire ad campaign, the view over the natural amphitheatre at Barbury Castle would be our centrepiece. Pick your picnic spot on the edge of the main arena during the horse trials in July, divvy up the Pimm’s and don’t move for the rest of the day — from here you’ll be able to see the showjumping in front of you, and the cross-country unfolding across the hillside beyond.
The adrenalin fix
Larkhill Racecourse, near Salisbury
Pack all your coats, all your hats and all your gloves and make a beeline to Larkhill Racecourse this winter for a point-to-point — there are seven fixtures at the racecourse between December this year and April 2018. The bitter wind blowing off Salisbury Plain will soon be brushed aside by the adrenalin of watching some of Britain’s best pointers in action. And if you get really desperate, you can walk the course.
Our pick of properties that you don’t need…
Outside Chance, near Marlborough
Pull up a stool at the bar where 20-time champion jockey AP McCoy celebrated riding his 4000th winner. The pub was created in 2008 from the gambling winnings of Howard Spooner’s racehorse Only Dreams, a 100-1 winner at Leicester, and serves up hearty mains to refuel you after a day in the saddle.
Opening times: 11am-11pm every day
Don’t miss this week’s property special in Horse & Hound magazine (28 September 2017), where we take a closer look at the property market in Wiltshire, round up some of the best equestrian properties for under £500,000 and find out how to make sure you’re paying the right price for a property