holidays collecting coloured sand at The Needles , now let me let you into a little secret….. the Island is a horse lovers paradise with miles and miles of off road riding through some of the most spectacular scenery England has to offer. The Isle of Wight lies six miles off the Mainland and is only


accessible by ferry, a thousand or so years ago it was joined to the Mainland but parted company sometime during the last Ice Age, and so the ferry has become an essential mode of transport. My husband’s family had a dairy farm over there for about sixty years and that is when Igot my first taste of riding by the sea. When we temporarily moved over to look after my Mother-in- laws farm Ithink within two days of arriving Maxwell my Arab horse and Iwere on the beach. When Ibought Max the girl who sold him to me told me that he came from the sea and was not afraid of boats, we both had a good giggle over this as we all know in deepest land-locked Oxfordshire boats are not one of the hazards that we normally have to cope with on a daily basis, I have to say that once on the beach Iwas glad that Maxwell had had this prior desensitisation to floating vehicles and the feeling of that first gallop flat out across the sand on Yaverland beach was something I’ll never forget, every rider should have a beach gallop on their bucket list. I’mvery lucky to be able to divide my time between Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight. The Island is about 14 miles wide and 25 miles long and, as

my father in law was fond of saying, consists of every county of England within its diminutive realm. The landscape can visually go from the stark cliffy cragginess of Cornwall to the cosy leafy feel of an Oxfordshire village to the heather clad heath land of Wales within the space of a couple of miles. The scenery here is quite spectacular and what ever appeals you will find it here from beaches to woods to wide open spaces set high above the sea. The climate on the Island is very mild and has long boasted its sunshine records. The coast from Sandown to Ventnor in particular enjoys as much sun as the Sussex resorts, second only to Jersey, so you can be fairly sure of having some fabulous weather to ride out in. Bridleways crisscross the Island and Ibelieve there are more

here per square mile than anywhere else in England, you really don’t have to cover much distance on the road before you

he first thing that springs to mind when one thinks of the Isle of Wight must be sticks of rock, fish and chips and long dreamy summers of childhood seaside

Writtenby JoMonck

come across a way of getting off it. The Island consists of 147 square miles and has 500 miles of bridleway, cycle routes and coastal paths. The bridleways here are very well maintained and kept clear for riders and some roads are even classed as ‘Quiet Roads’, with a sign up warning drivers that these roads are ‘used by horses and pedestrians’, the first time Isaw one of these signs Igot so excited Itook a photo and sent it to a friend whilst Iwas still sitting on Max in a lay-by, what a cracking idea Ithought. The only criteria required to ride these amazing routes is an ability to do gates from your horse unless you are feeling particularly athletic, as there are many of them, I remember one long ride where I got on and off 14 times, that was also the day that Igot lost and ended up outside Morrisons in Lake with some kind shopper holding Max whilst I bought a sandwich, but that is definitely another story. But the good news is that these days nearly all the gates are very rider friendly and can certainly be done without exiting your mount, in-between the gate opening are long, long stretches of beautiful straight rides which can tempt anyone to just let their horse open up. From the top of any of the Downs the views can only be described as magnificent, from Ventnor Down you can actually see from one end of the Island to the other Getting your horse over to the Island on the ferry is to some

a daunting prospect but Ihave to say mine are so chilled on the boat that they are virtually ordering cappuccinos half way over, must be something to do with the gentle rocking of the waves, I have made this trip many times and never had a problem, a good hay net and a copy of Island Life seems to keep them happy and a nice horse box price for travel sweetens the trip considerably. The Island is a hive of equestrian activity with a huge amount

of shows organised during the summer months with something to suit all disciplines and abilities, Spider Rides are also very popular, a Spider Ride is a fun ride where riders make their way to a set venue, planning their own route, where they have cake and coffee and a good socialise, a great way to meet other horsey people. Sometimes there is clear round jumping to give the day a little extra, everyone then comes home with a rosette, it is a great day out and is open to all. The excellent Kingates Equestrian centre based in Niton held the last one Iwent to and we came away very happily with a clear round rosette, our first. Now for a little fascinating equine historical Island fact,

Warrior, the real War Horse hails from the Island, Foaled on the Isle of Wight in 1908 in the picturesque West Wight hamlet of Yafford, Warrior went to war on the Western Front



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