When you imagine a horsey paradise, a vision of acres of green fields in lush rural surroundings usually springs to mind. But not every equestrian establishment comes in this typical package — just look around and you may find a yard full of horses in some very unexpected places…
1. Look up!
At the beautiful Ecuries Lalande Laborie in Dordogne, France, the horses live happily in double-decker stables (main image above) – the building is on the side of a steep hill so actually there are ground-level exits even for those with a bird’s eye view. In mountainous areas across Europe, these two-tier barn systems are an inspired way of adapting to the surroundings.
2. Fancy a pint?
In Wimbledon Village, south-west London, horses are a regular sight on the high street – but blink and you’ll miss the entrance to their cosy stables, tucked away behind a popular pub on a an extremely busy road.
3. Up on the roof
When they were built in the 1970s, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s 63 state-of-the-art air-conditioned stalls, constructed in a massive concrete structure rising to 11 storeys, were the world’s first multi-storey stables. These revolutionary racing stables were built on the Shan Kwong Road, which leads directly to the racecourse below and is surrounded by high-rise apartments. The building even featured this rooftop exercise arena and lungeing yard, and the stable hands were all housed in the higher floors of the building. This was not a place for humans or equines with vertigo.
4. Watching the world go by
In the busy of a bustling metropolis, trying to find space to stable some horses is no mean feat. The London-based Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment’s Hyde Park Barracks in Knightsbridge is split over two storeys — The Blues and Royals are housed upstairs while The Life Guards are housed underneath.
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5. A room with a view
Historically, London’s working horses were housed around a central courtyard and horses were driven up ramps to the first floor. In this picture from the 1920s, this grey had an outstanding view of St Paul’s Cathedral and the riverfront from his stables near Southwark Bridge. At this time, horses were still integral to the running of the docks and many stables existed close to the river. A decade or so earlier, part of what is now St Mary’s Hospital at Paddington was built by the railway as stables for the road delivery department and concrete ramps and galleries were added so up to 600 horses could be accommodated on the upper floors.
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