What could be better than flopping on the sofa with a good DVD when you come in from doing your horses this Christmas?
1. Dressage to Music
This 1hr DVD may not have the highest production values, but provides an informative introduction to freestyle to music. Produced and commentated by musician Gaynor Colbourn, she guides you through the process of selecting music type and tempo to suit your horse. Horses featured on the film range from inexperienced hairy cobs up to grand prix talents. This DVD is reasonable value and a useful tool for tips and advice for getting started with freestyle to music.
2. Yard Talk: Series 1
6 equestrians give an insight into their day-to-day life and future aspirations — Jock Paget, Louise Bell, Natasha Baker, Richard Davison, Tina Cook and Trevor Breen. Viewers are invited on a tour of each competitor’s yard, meeting the team behind them, their star horses, and the horses of the future. A must-see for anyone aspiring to reach the heights of equestrian competition in any discipline, this gives a real insight into the dedication and focus needed to be successful.
3. Summer In February
Set in Cornwall in the early 20th century, Summer In February focuses on a group of Bohemian artists called the Lamorna Group. The film retells the true story of a complicated love triangle involving the renowned equestrian artist Sir Alfred Munnings (Dominic Cooper), his young wife Florence (Emily Browning) and Gilbert Evans, played by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens. The film has a Sunday afternoon costume drama feeling about it and is well acted with beautiful Cornish scenery, although true equestrians might find the horse scenes slightly amateurish.
4. Badminton: a Rider’s View
An hour-long DVD following Francis Whittington and his 2 rides from preparation through competition at Badminton 2013. This is educational and enjoyable viewing with head cam cross-country footage, backstage shots in the Badminton stable yard and Francis’ open assessments. There are also interesting insights from different members of Francis’ team, including head girl Sharon Mepham, trainers and a nutritionist.
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5. Jennifer Saunders Back in the Saddle
During the build-up to the 2012 London Olympics, Jennifer Saunders sets out to help encourage participation in equestrianism. She was a Pony Club member in her youth and is still an occasional rider. This follows her in her quest to return to competition level, aiming for the Badminton Grassroots competition. There is a lot to enjoy about this refreshing approach to getting back on a horse after a long break. The interviews and lessons with top riders, past and present — including the Princess Royal at Gatcombe, Tim Stockdale and Piggy French, for whom Jennifer has since become an owner — are all interesting.
6. Martin Clunes Heavy Horsepower
Martin Clunes, from Doc Martin, explores whether heavy horses still have a working role in today’s world. Viewers meet Martin’s own young Clydesdales, Ronnie and Bruce, as they are sent to “hoof camp” to learn their traditional trade. As they are in training, we travel with Martin to New Orleans to meet the famous Budweiser Clydesdales, visit Amish heavy horses in Indiana, the Household Cavalry in London and go to Belgium to witness “sea-horses” in action. This DVD will not only appeal to fans of the heavy horse, but to all equine enthusiasts. Martin is a likeable narrator who offers a refreshingly simple approach to horses as he travels the world, encouraging them with multiple pats and comforting noises. He meets some beautiful working Clydesdales, Suffolks, and a fabulous French horse who works on his breeder’s vineyard. A thoroughly heart-warming watch that will make you want to go out and buy yourself a pair of lovely shires and a wagon.