Behind the scenes: take a tour around gold medallist Kitty King’s yard

  • Horse & Hound takes a tour around Kitty King’s yard, The Old Bull Pen, in Wiltshire to meet some of her equine stars and check out her facilities. Kitty King was on the gold medal-winning team at the Europeans and is gearing up for an exciting top-flight campaign in 2022, starting with Badminton. Kitty King’s current top ride (main picture) is her Europeans team gold medallist Vendredi Biats (Froggy). Kitty calls the French-bred 13-year-old a “complete comedian”, but he’s exceptionally talented, having won Bramham and being placed in the top 10 at two European Championships.

    Don’t miss our access all areas feature with Kitty in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound, which is out today (14 April).

    Kitty King on the gallops at her yard

    A 5f carpet canter track encircles Kitty’s training field. She uses the track for slow endurance work, and schools and jumps in the grass field in the centre. Here she is putting novice campaigner RSH Monbeg Marshall through his paces.

    Kitty King yard: the American barn

    Kitty’s horses are housed in an American barn with a wide central aisle. Vendredi Biats and Kitty’s Rio Olympic ride Ceylor LAN (Sprout) have the two largest corner stables.

    Kitty King lungeing Vendredi Biats

    Vendredi Biats is worked in a chambon in the lunge pen, which has trotting poles set up. Froggy’s routine is to have a day off after competing, followed by a lungeing session the next day. When the horse first arrived, he was notorious for bucking his riders off, so Kitty started out always lungeing him first – and still does if she can “see that look on his face’”.

    Kitty King yard: Cristal Fontaine in the field

    Cristal Fontaine, known as Louis, is another of Kitty’s top rides – again a French-bred grey. Although the 10-year-old is lovely to look at and talented to ride, Kitty describes him as Jekyll and Hyde as he guards his personal space on the ground and has been known to bite!

    Kitty King's yard: Ceylor Lan

    Kitty’s Rio Olympic ride, Ceylor LAN, is now 15 and is being campaigned at four-star short this season – “he’s done enough gym work in his time to get fit for five-stars, so it’s now about having fun with him”. This tall gelding occupies a huge dual-aspect stable.

    Kitty King yard: the indoor school

    The large indoor school used to be a cattle barn. Kitty says it was more cost-effective to put down a surface there rather than build a brand new outdoor school. When possible Kitty works on grass out in the fields.

    Kitty King yard: turning out two horses

    Kitty turns out her horses as much as possible. During the season they are typically out at night, and brought in for grooming and ridden work. If a horse is gearing up for a major three-day, she will keep them in more so that she can monitor their feed intake.

    Kitty with her two Bedlington/whippets, who watch her every move around the yard. Once she’s finished riding, she takes them for a walk around the farm.

    Kitty travels to Rectory Farm Arena to train with eventing performance manager Dickie Waygood, courtesy of her place on the World Class programme. Here she is riding a highly rated five-year-old horse, MBF Redhouse Evoque who is just at the start of his eventing career. Kitty’s head girl Chloe Fry is seen in the background adjusting the jumps.

    Aboard Vanessa Vernon’s home-bred Equites Mail, known as Sahara. The mare is a game jumper and won a novice the same week H&H visited Kitty.

    Kitty King training showjumping

    Ogue Verdi, a seven-year-old who is due to step up to intermediate this season. The Irish-bred is a “bit of a lad”, so Kitty has been trying different bits on him, such as this Nathe pelham, which often suits sensitive horses who need a bit of control.

    Once Kitty’s finished with the horses, she’s on the case with her own fitness. She does spin classes three times a week, as well as two Pilates sessions and personal training – despite claiming “I hate exercise, I’d much rather sit and eat ice cream!”.

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