H&H tracks down where the equestrian world’s biggest names are based — and discovers why you’ll want to head there, too

1. Gloucestershire
Celeb-spotting: Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin and Laura Tomlinson fly the flag for dressage, Nick Gauntlett and Zara Phillips for eventing and Nigel Twiston-Davies and Jonjo O’Neill for racing.

In vogue: South Gloucestershire is especially sought after, says Rupert Sturgis of Knight Frank, but the Hartpury area is also fast becoming a serious contender, according to Liz Langford of Fox Grant.

Property prices: Near Stow-on-the-Wold and Moreton-in-Marsh, a good home with five stables and five-10 acres costs £2-3 million, according to Rupert Sweeting of Knight Frank. The Hartpury area is somewhat cheaper.

Competitions and shows: Eventing reigns supreme, with Badminton, Gatcombe and Hartpury International Horse Trials, while polo is at the Cirencester Park and Beaufort Polo Clubs and racing is at Cheltenham.

Where to train: “AM Dressage, the home of Matt Frost and Adam Kemp, attracts riders from all over the UK and Europe,” says Liz. Training is also available at Hartpury College, Talland School of Equitation and Summerhouse, among others.

Where to hack: Gloucestershire offers plenty of good outriding, especially in some estates, such as Cirencester Park, says Rupert Sturgis of Knight Frank.

Hunting matters: 10 packs hunt in the county, including the Vale of the White Horse (VWH), the Berkeley, the Heythrop and the Duke of Beaufort’s.

2. Hampshire
Celeb-spotting: Showjumper Peter Charles and dressage supremo Jennie Loriston-Clarke both live locally.

In vogue: The New Forest is always a favourite for its scenic hacking, as is the Meon Valley, with the countryside near Alton being particularly popular for the Hampshire Hunt (HH).

Property prices: You can expect to pay upwards of £2.5 million for an equestrian property with a large American barn,well-fenced paddocks, and quality outbuildings, according to Philip Blanchard of Jackson-Stops & Staff.

Competitions and shows: Somerley Park International Horse Trials is the top eventing competition, with other events held at Mattingley and Tweseldown Racecourse. In addition, you will find racing at Tweseldown and point-to-pointing at Hackwood Park — plus polo at the New Forest Polo Club. Crofton Manor stages showjumping, dressage and showing competitions.

Where to train: Crofton Manor holds regular showjumping and dressage clinics, GB Equestrian offers dressage clinics and Rogate Equestrian Centre, on the Hampshire to West Sussex border, provides tuition in most disciplines. Tweseldown also offers cross-country schooling.

Where to hack: “Great hacking comes in abundance in Hampshire,” says Philip, with the Meon Valley Trail, Queen Elizabeth Country Park and the vast expanse of the New Forest offering miles of car-free riding.

Hunting matters: Eight packs hunt in Hampshire, including the New Forest Hounds and the HH.

3. Dorset
Celeb-spotting: William Fox-Pitt is the local star.

In vogue: The most sought-after villages among riders include Cattistock, Cerne Abbas and Buckland Newton, plus the area around Beaminster. In the north of the county, Motcombe is popular with recreational riders.

Property prices: A medium-size family house with seven acres and basic outbuildings costs from £780,000, according to Fred Cook of Jackson-Stops & Staff. A large main house, with a small cottage, some stables and up to 10 acres of land commands more than £1 million.

Competitions and shows: There’s a lively local circuit with showjumping and dressage competitions at Kingston Maurward College, the Dorset Showground and Parley Court Equestrian Centre. You’ll find horse trials at Bovington Equestrian and Bricky Farm, and three large shows — Gillingham and Shaftesbury, Melplash, as well as the Dorset County Show.

Where to train: Moreton Stables and South Coast Equestrian both hold regular dressage and showjumping clinics, Bovington Equestrian provides private tuition for experienced and competition riders while Kingston Maurward College offers diplomas in horse care and management.

Where to hack: Miles of bridleways and quiet country lanes criss-cross the county. Among the longer rides are the Wessex Ridgeway, the North Dorset Trailway and the Castleman Trailway.

Hunting matters: Dorset counts eight packs, with the vale country hunts being particularly popular. Rupert Sweeting of Knight Frank picks the Cattistock as one of the top three hunts among all the counties featured in these pages.

4. Sussex
Celeb-spotting: Showjumping’s Shane and Chloe Breen are based at Hickstead. Racehorse trainer Gary Moore is at Lower Beeding and Nick Gifford is at Findon — where Tina Cook also lives.

In vogue: The South Downs and Ashdown Forest are particularly sought after among recreational riders, the area around Hickstead draws showjumping riders, while polo players want to be near Cowdray Park, according to Chris Spofforth of Savills.

Property prices: Chris quotes £1.5-2 million for a good five-bedroom farmhouse, with five-10 acres and decent equestrian facilities, depending on location.

Competitions and shows: From the Derby Meeting to the Royal International Horse Show, Hickstead is at the heart of the equestrian calendar. Other county highlights include the Gold Cup at Cowdray Park Polo Club, Glorious Goodwood at Goodwood racecourse and the South of England Show at Ardingly.

Where to train: Coombelands Equestrian in Pulburough has excellent facilities, according to Katherine Watters of The Buying Solution. Other equestrian centres, such as Chelwood, in Nutley, also offer high-level tuition and clinics.

Where to hack: The South Downs Way and the Downs Link offer a lifetime of scenic riding. Should these not suffice, the Worth Way takes in the beauty of the High Weald, while several coastal areas, including the Witterings and Thanet, offer beach riding. Best of all, says Katherine: “Many local pubs now have tie-ups and head collars ready for impromptu visitors.”

Hunting matters: Six packs hunt across the area, including the Chiddingfold, Leconfield and Cowdray Hunt, the Crawley and Horsham and the East Sussex and Romney Marsh.

5. Devon
Celeb-spotting: This is eventing heartland, with both Mary King and Lucy Wiegersma based in the county.

In vogue: Exmoor and Dartmoor are firm favourites with equestrian buyers, followed by the South Hams.

Property prices: In Honiton, on the county’s eastern fringes, prices for a good home with five stables and five-10 acres are around £1.25-1.5 million, according to Rupert Sweeting. The further west you go, the more value you get for your money.

Competitions and shows: The Golden Horseshoe Ride takes place in Exmoor, straddling the border between Devon and Somerset. The local county show is also “very big”, according to Rupert Sweeting. Other events include horse trials and showjumping at Bicton Arena, plus racing at Exeter and Newton Abbot racecourses.

Where to train: Bicton College runs regular dressage and showjumping clinics, as well as offering an equine studies course, while Southcott Farm in Winkleigh was previously voted by Horse & Hound readers as one of their favourite venues for cross-country schooling.

Where to hack: Exmoor and Dartmoor alone provide seemingly endless opportunities for off-road hacking, but the county also has many trails (such as the Dittisham and the Tarka) and free-riding areas (Cookworthy Moor, Haldon Forest Park and Woodbury Common).

Hunting matters: Hunting is superlative with 18 packs, including the Exmoor Foxhounds and the Dulverton Farmers — and of course there’s the Devon & Somerset Staghounds.

6. Yorkshire

Celeb-spotting: Yorkshire is the cradle of the Whitaker dynasty, with John and William both based near Huddersfield and Ellen and Joe near Barnsley. Team GBR endurance rider Catriona Moon also lives in the area, as do a number of racehorse trainers, including Richard Fahey and Mark Johnston, who are based in Middleham.

In vogue: The pretty countryside between Wetherby, Harrogate and Ilkley is always sought after, although some riders prefer the wilder expanses — and cheaper acres — further north. Another popular area is Malton, just by the Howardian Hills.

Property prices: Yorkshire is huge and prices vary enormously depending on location. Being higher in the York to Wetherby corridor, they go down in West Yorkshire. Near Malton you can expect to spend about £1-1.25 million for a house with about five stables and five-10 acres.

Competitions and shows: Bramham is one of the biggest events in the local calendar, but the Great Yorkshire Show, with its showing and showjumping rings, is equally popular — as is racing at York.
Where to train: The Yorkshire Riding Centre and the Richmond Equestrian Centre both hold clinics, as well as offering private hire of their facilities.

Where to hack: With two National Parks (North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales) and a portion of a third (Peak District), the area is criss-crossed by trails — including the 205-mile-long Pennine Bridleway route linking Derbyshire to Cumbria.

Hunting matters: Hunting in Yorkshire is good, thanks to its 21 varied packs. Knight Frank’s Rupert Sweeting names the Badsworth & Bramham Moor and the Middleton as his favourites.

Don’t miss Horse & Hound’s equestrian property pull-out in this week’s issue (18 September 2014), where we reveal H&H’s property wishlist and find out why high-end yards are in hot demand

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