For many people, a trip to London is all about the sight-seeing, attractions and luxury shopping experiences (and even cheap ones such as buying London souvenirs). However, many visitors to the British capital come here for the beauty and magnificence of our equestrian friends, the horses, that can be seen at many of London's horse riding and horse racing destinations.
In fact, the City of London used to be home to over 300,000 horses that were used to keep the city running. With the passage of time, this number has dwindled to only nine horses that work for the mounted branch of the City of London police. But this isn't the only place you will find horses in London, there are many opportunities to see these magnificent creatures in action at horse shows, parades, Royal ceremonies, farms, riding schools and races.
Exploring a horse racing track or riding school is a much-loved activity amongst people who travel for sports tourism. However, when it comes to the unique experience of interacting with horses themselves or exploring their surroundings, there's a few essential guidelines that are best to adhere to.
Here are a few crucial tips that you can keep in mind before you set out to meet our four-legged friends.
Research the History of the Riding School or Race Course
Some of London's race courses and riding schools are steeped in history, for example the Wimbledon Village Stables trace their roots back to the 13th century.
Check Online for Timings and Tickets Prices
This will help you to plan your budget and arrival times, also you may get cheaper tickets when booking online.
Find Out More About the Horses
Horses are extraordinary animals that have been man's best friend for thousands of years. The more you learn about the animal and the surroundings, the more you will appreciate and respect the experience.
Find Out About Any Restrictions
Look out for age restrictions when taking children, any limitations on making photos and videos to avoid disappointment and embarrassment.
Saddle up and take up riding lessons in on of the many fantastic riding schools that London has to offer.
Once the hunting spot of King Henry VII, Hyde Park is the heart and soul of London's green scene. In this day and age, you won't find hunters in the park anymore, rather it serves as a spectacular venue for horse riding, which is a popular pursuit for many. The park has two designated bridleways which are used by all sorts of horse riders from local stables to even the police and Royal horse guards.
The Stag Lodge Stables offer excellent services for people who are learning to ride with over seventy well trained horses and ponies. They use the stunning Richmond park which is also home to over 600 deer, which really makes it a must-see destination for all who love nature and wildlife. There are different horses for people of all ages and even cute little Shetland ponies for the smaller aspiring jockeys. The stable is located seconds away from the park so you won't have to worry about riding on the roads and the fun can begin right away!
The Wimbledon Village Stables has a historical background and is now an award winning school that offers a unique riding experience. They cater for new riders all the way to the most experienced. The stables also have a fully interactive horse riding simulator which is a safe way for people to learn before getting on an actual horse.
The Household Cavalry Museum celebrates the history of Great Britain with many fun tours and activities for the whole family. See the Changing of the Guard and Trooping the Colour, as well as having a look at the beautiful horses in the stables and even trying on the uniforms of the Royal Guards. As well as dressing up, you can also learn all about the different items of their prestigious uniform such as the Jack boots and Cuirass, and what the colours of the different uniforms mean. The Household Cavalry Museum also offers a wonderfully historical experience, not just for horse lovers, as the regiment was established in 1650 during the British Empire so you can be sure to learn a lot there about all those aspects too.
Horses are spectacular creatures and its a fabulous experience to see them in their full glory at a horse show. There are many great horse shows in London and these are just a few that are sure to keep you entertained.
The Olympia Horse Show offers spectacular presentations such as dressage, show jumping and many more. For a fun experience why not see the Shetland pony Grand National where younger riders show off their skills with their cute ponies. The venue also features Kennel Club dog agility competitions which are well worth seeing if you love the dogs as much as the horses.
Windsor Castle is the venue for the spectacular Royal Windsor Horse Show and it is one of the largest outdoor horse shows there is. The show features many exciting events and includes ponies as well as horses, making this an ideal day out if all that is equestrian is your thing.
London is often the chosen venue for some of the most amazing show jumping events. The Longines Global Champions Tour returns at the iconic Royal Hospital Chelsea during the summer season and is one of the best show jumping events in London, where you can get to see horse riders from all over the world.
Horse racing is the second largest spectator sport in Great Britain, so why not visit a horse racing course and see what all the hype is about.
The Royal Ascot is one of the best venues for horse racing in London and have some of the most superb culinary attractions, so you can literally enjoy a taste of the action with the great food that is on offer while you watch the races. There are always many events running so make sure you check out their website to get your tickets first.
The Sandown Park race course offers a thrilling experience with plenty of leisure events and fun shows including Ladies Day, Music Nights and Comedy events.
Home of the Ladbrokes Christmas Festival, the Kempton Park race course features elite racing and show jumping events with delightful hospitality and dining experiences.