An apology for the late August post – but I thought I’d wait to talk about something very close to our T.H.E hearts. The ‘something’ thats been keeping us a little distracted for the past few weeks (or should I say years, thats probably more like it!)
The obvious distraction has been the Olympics, to which I am watching the final night whilst typing this blog, its making me vey proud to be British!! As many of you know we have a few four legged friends at T.H.E, maybe we should say the are extra special because they can dance… and no its not Otis Redding, although he does have a very good wiggle!.. it is our very own T.H.E horses, and a new Champion amongst the herd may we add! Late in July whilst the fabulously colourful #hayesfest wedding was in full swing and the newly weds were celebrating, our very own gorgeous orange ‘Wikipedia’ won the 5 year old national title at Hickstead Young Horse Championships with a massive 86.6% and celebration soared when the news hit T.H.E Barn! (maybe it was the groom giving Wiki a pep talk, telling her to go and win in the horse box before she set off on her 5 hour trip down south!)
We are very proud of the GB equestrian riders at Rio 2016, they have done an amazing job coming away with 2 golds and a team silver! In fact all of Team GB.. we have been hooked!
This leads me on to dig a little into a wee bit history that links Holford and its dancing horses…
The long and colourful traditions of dressage go back as far as Ancient Greece. The highest expression of horse training is considered an artwork and over two thousand years ago the Ancient Greeks recognised this! The art of riding slowly fell into oblivion, until its revival during the Renaissance period.
In the 18th century, classical dressage reached its peak with the birth of the world-famous Spanish Riding School in 1729 in Vienna.
Just a few years before the Spanish Riding School made history in 1727 The Holford Hall and a large part of its original estate was inherited by Thomas Asheton of Ashley Hall, for his grandson Thomas Ashton-Smith by 1791 Ashton-Smith was now a very wealthy slate baron and sold Holford Estate to the Langford-Brookes of Mere Hall. It was in this year that the lineage of today’s Thoroughbred horses can be traced with great accuracy, having had a general stud book set up in 1790’s. Horses remained the primary source of power for agriculture, mining, transport and warfare, until the arrival of the steam engine.
By 1840 railway lines had become very prominant and this lead to making horse drawn passenger coaches virtually obsolete. Use of the steam engine then also began to make the horse redundant in farm work swell within agriculture and industry. This meant that the numbers of working horse drastically dropped, although they were still used in cavalry, WW1 was on its way..
The Holford Estate had changed hands again in 1898 before Equestrianism made its debut in the 1900 Paris Olympics with 4 disciplines, polo, Grand Prix jumping, high jump and long jump. Holford was then owned at this point by The Brunnermond Company for its brine and rock salt.
Sadly equestrianism disappeared until 1912’s Stockholm Games, but The Brunnermond Company had not done the same at T.H.E! Equestrianism made its come back to the disciplines that we know and love, although in 1912 our beloved dressage horses had to jump! (we wouldn’t be seeing that these days!) Since then dressage has changed and the test have become increasingly more difficult and horses are bred specifically for the sport with more extravagant movement and ability.
Until 1948 only men were allowed to take part in these events, as competitors had to be officers. The restriction was lifted, firstly in dressage in 1951 and since the Helsinki Games in 1952, men and women have been able to compete against each other on a level playing field (pardon the pun!) So by 1988 when The Brunnermond Company sold Holford Hall in auction on the 29th of September to its current owners/ (fan club), dressage was on its way up and taking the olympic games by storm! Just how we like it!… fingers crossed ‘Wiki’ and the rest of the clan can continue her success and maybe one day we will see a T.H.E dancing horse at the olympic games!!(fingers crossed!)
Here she is, our T.H.E Champ!..