No bridle? No problem! Forgetful hunt follower uses headcollar instead

Followers of the Bicester with Whaddon Chase were surprised when Ben Stockley arrived on the hunting field last Monday (23 October) with his horse wearing no bridle – just a headcollar.

“He hunted for about four hours and had more control than several members of the field – including me – whose horses had lots of brakes fitted!” reported Fiona Dunlop, who was hunting that morning.

It wasn’t a deliberate move on Ben’s part, however. He just forgot his bridle.

“The worst thing is, it isn’t the first time I have forgotten to bring a bridle to that meet!” said Ben. “I was running late already because I put the wrong postcode into my sat nav, and there wasn’t time to rummage through friends’ lorries looking for a bridle, so I just thought, ‘sod it’, and hopped on.”

Ben, who runs a competition yard near Bicester with his partner, Ed Eltham and who is chief instructor to the Whaddon branch of the Pony Club, was riding a nine-year-old mare called Bonny.

“She’s just been sold to Liz and Amy Hulbert and will go eventing next year,” said Ben. “There aren’t many horses I could have done that on – she was good as gold. She’s such a sweet-natured, easy mare and we had a lovely morning.

“She was already wearing her breastplate, martingale and saddle, so I just attached the martingale to the headcollar and we set off. My brakes were fine!

“There was a lot of laughing when I first appeared.”

Horse & Hound’s hunting special is on sale now. Don’t miss our complete guide to packs in Britain and Ireland, as well as an interview with Wynnstay joint-master and huntsman Richard Tyacke, Grafton huntsman Mick Wills on the man who inspired him most, Beanie Sturgis on how to educate your horse in the hunting field and more.