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.