Sunday, 20 July 2008

The Finale at Bosworth Field

The Arms of King Richard III

Well we are safely home, kit unloaded and horses gently grazing in thier paddocks. I for one am looking forward to an early night and here I am dressed in my dressing gown with glass of the champagne to celebrate our victory.

The morning of our finale dawned with a bright sun and the odd shower. Rather different to the forecast, thank goodness. The horses had been mucking around in the night as they had skillfully got themselves all in the same sub division of the paddock. I suspect Spot, the leader of the miscreants in the paddock with a good leap!

Here we all are for a posed photo in front of Osbaston Hll with our kind hosts, Peter and Leanda de Lisle.We set forth at 1030 with a Police escort to get us along a busy main road. Our route was mostly along country lanes and farm tracks. It was great to have Rupert de Lisle with us. He was ably mounted on Spot. At one stage Charlie (Charles James Fox, NOT Charlie Nutting!) crossed a track in front of us causung a fair amount of excitement. Later we came across a very deep and smelly pool, which Mr Stitch did not fancy and Maggie on her pony would never have made, so we did a detour. By 1 pm we reached Market Bosworth itself where in the market squre we were welcomed by Derek Whiting with a glass of hot punch : what a kind thought and how much we appreciated this act of friendship. Then it was off to the Black Horse where we had an excellent lunch by courtesy of the Battle of Bosworth Heritage Centre, who had been such enthusiasts.

It was difficult to drag the riders away from this very comfortable hostelry but battle beckoned and on we went to Ambion Hill. At the bottom we were met by King Richard III and his pikemen and with much shouting and jeering we rode up the hill. At the top we had the opportunity to have a "splurge" and we neatly outflanked King Richard. And so to the Medieval Village to address the assembled company and how good to see so many people.

Then it was "good bye " to the horses and with much speed we changed into 21st Century clothes for the Reception, whre we saw many old friends and met new ones. It was very touching to receive presentation pieces from the Lord Lieutenant, Jennifer, Lady Gretton who has been such a support in all our plans. This was a very kind touch arranged by the Heritage Centre who have been instintingly helpful during our planning.

Beating Retreat followed although the free fall drop had to be cancelled due to high winds. As we listened to the wonderfully familiar tunes we looked out onto a classic English countryside wreathed in sunshine and cloud. Here I certainly reflected on a happy if demanding week. Above all we were incredibly well supported by a lot of good and kind people, then the horses, whonever let us down. Special mention must be made of Jack Tarr who as the Regional Director of Fundraising did a fantastic job ably assisted by Sylvia in setting up all the events at Bosworth.

Dinner followed with over 90 people attending and this was cheering for us all. Us riders were all made to work, with Arthur, assisted by Nick and Michael doing the auction of an amusing and interesting picture with SAS connections and then I introducing Richard who as ever was fascinating and amusing. Poor Thatch, his intelligence drawn into question but all acknowledged that he had a great heart as they all have.
Thank you to the riders all seen in the above photos, they have been fantastic and so far I think we may have raised about £50,000. But there is still time to add to the kitty on
I also thank those who are behind the riders , the wives and girlfriends who have supported us in one way or another. Lizzie, Jessica and Bathsheeba who let their men disapear on this merry jape, Celia who drove backwards and forwards getting the costumes to and from Dorking as well as fixing the little china dishes, Cally who valiantly came and drove us around in Wales and finally Virginia and Maggie who joined in the fun at the end of the ride.
When I get some other photos from Arthur and Jim I will post a last and final blog with the best of those photos. Thank you blogger for looking all this up.

Evelyn Webb-Carter

Friday, 18 July 2008

And so to Leicestershire

The Arms of Henry Tudor

We said a fond farewell to our hosts John and Crescent Giffard but not before discovering that Mozart on whom we had placed so much was found to be lame!! Confusion and oaths resulted in poor Dominic being deprived of his ride and instead becoming the master navigator for Tina as she negotiated every conceivable route in Shropshire, Staffordshire and Leicestershire to get the injured Penny and Doughnut to Osbaston where we were to spend this evening. I must say how grateful we were to the Blenkirons for their amazing support whilst we lodged at Chillington Farm.

We were to ride over and through Cannock Chase and the first event was a photo call for the local press at the start of the day. This as usual caused mayhem with local enthusiasts who had turned up with their horses to follow us, as a quick circuit of the village green with standards flying in the wind alarmed all but the most stoic of steeds.

Soon we were off with the excellent Leslie Simmonds who guided us with great style through Cannock Chase. She tried hard to excite us with stories of Black Panthers and Giant Sting Rays but we much enjoyed her company and lovely sense of the ridiculous. I do wonder what she made of us as we charged all over the place playing scant attention to bye or an other law for that matter. And sevearl of the company jumping the various barriers!

Cannock Chase is a gem and I suspect little known outside the local area. We rode between 500 year old oaks and a few which were here in Henry Tudor's time. It is administered by the local authority and the Forestry Commission. Even in the dull weather conditions we had you could see the beauty of the place.

Every now and then there was the opportunity to have a 'splurge' as Leslie put it. A good gallop up the hill did us a lot of good. here we see the gallant Spot in the lead, ridden here by Rebecca a member of the King's Troop. She is seen here again as we pause to drink at a ford

The Chase is full of intertesting things such as a memorial to the thousands of Poles murdered at Katyn by the Russians in 1943. Close by was a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery and also a German Cemetery for the Germans in the 2nd World War who were killed in British waters, died in aircraft crashes or as prisoners of war. Richard explained such interesting facts as we progressed. Here is Michael Cunningham in floppy hat as we look at the CWGC cemetery. Some of our number were more interested in the lady in the car park dressed merely in her bra and fishnets!! (no photo available) Leslie implied this was not unusual; Rebecca looked shocked.

We had a good ride and at 1 pm we stoppped to consume our excellent picnic lunch and here again we must thank Peter Knox and his team for victualing us in the West Midlands. It could notb have been better. We had a lovely time over lunch and whiled away an hour quite easily.

The horses enjoyed their break as well.
After lunch it rained and it is amazing that this was the first time that some of us had worn our waterproofs. Pray for Saturday!! About this time Arthur on entering a large pond in the quest for the almost was unseated in the drink. It was an exciting moment but were disapointed that he managed to hang on. Here he is seen laughing at it all.

The rain was pretty persistent , but later it warmed up to produce a healthy fog of steam.
We had a lovely time and we all enjoyed this ride in the centre of industrial England. Here Richard and Nick are doing just that.

Cannock also has a herd of fallow dear and the odd row. they seemed very tame to our approach.

We had one small drama when Spot got all excited by Arthur's escapade and tried to jump the concrete step by the lake. The result was a vet call out and 5 staples but all is well and the little grey mare will be back in action to morrow with Rupert de Lisle on top , I hope. John Dickerson from the Chine Veterinary practice did a very neat job. SEE BELOW

And now to our biographical column, this time just the one! Joseph is Michael Cunnigham's horse. He is aged 20 and is retired after a busy and active hunting career. An Irish cross thoroughbred she has hunted all over the place including the Beaufort. He was the favourite mount of Michael and Virginia's daughter, Mouse who had rode the Silk Route several years ago. I think the Henry Tudor Ride has been somewhat less demanding! She (Joseph NOT Mouse) has a very unusual distiguishing mark on her face as she has a crescent shaped scar as a result by a kick from a mare.

Our welcome at Osbaston from Peter and Leanda de Lisle (seen above with Rupert) was wonderful and all our wants were provided for. There had been rumours that there would be no hot water but to the relief and gratitude of all it had been resolved just in time.

To morrow seems set to be busy as we shall meet King Richard III and as he is a popular figure here abouts we do not expect much sympathy. However there is an impressive programme including a Beating Retreat, a Free Fall display and a dinner for the victors of Bosworth. The Visitor Centre at Bosworth have been brilliant in supporting the finale of the ride.

This has all been enormous fun made possible by many kind and generous people from Dale to Bosworth. If you have been amused by this blog and have not yet made a contribution to the fund pleasd do so by visiting

I will write one more blog in two days time as I will not have time to morrow night.

Thank you for blogging on, if this is what one says on these occasions.


AFTER NOTE: Spot is sound so all is well. The weather is set fair for an exciting day.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

An Interesting Day!

We were very well looked after by Ros and Edward Tate who came to the rescue when we discovered during then morning trot up which tests the fitness of the horses that two were unfit to ride. Sore backs!! Ros allowed us to borrow two horses from their yard. How very kind of them. Not only that but Edward also drove 3 horses to our start point. I just hope that he did not lose his name by being late for the dressage!! Talking of which none of us on this trip have much clue about such technicalities.

The day started with Arthur being taken off at sparrows to a radio car so he could be interviewed by the lovely Sarah Montague about the Military Covenant. The boy did well and a hearty breakfast ensued. Ros wanted to see the men clean their own tack so here is a photo to prove it!!
The sore backs caused some delay in the proceedings but a contingency plan was put into action and a spare horse of Jim Arkell's and my daughter's horse Spot were enlisted to help us. Their movements were fixed and Tina was on her way!

Our late start was a bonus allowing us to re group and organise ourselves. Our RV after a short drive was in Kemberton where Alison Kwiatkowski looked after us and provided us with coffee and a lovely welcome. At the same time Anna and Peter arrived with a wonderful lunch.

It is interesting to see the complete change in scenery from the totally pasture fields of Wales to the more crop based agriculture in England. But we alos saw on our trip to day some lovely red bricked Georgian farm houses that all of us would love to live in.

We were less in then open country amd more on roads and tracks but these were light in traffic and the pleasant company of Alison and her friend from the village more than made up for that. Mickey Cork was our competent guide and how grateful we are to not worry about map reading. This has proved to be a big area of contention over the last week.

On our way to Chillington Hall we visited White Ladies Priory where Richard gave us an impromptu lecture from the saddle on the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the details of "hanging drawing and quartering". And then onto Boscobel House where in 1651 after the Battle of Worcester Charles II took refuge in the house hid in a tree. Thus a famous and popular legend was born.

To day Emma rode Mr Stitch to whom she has become attached. I think she enjoyed her day driving what must be like a sports car. Mr Stitch enjoyed the lighter load!
We arrived at our destination in good time. Chillington Hall is an interesting house having been in the Gifford Family since the Norman Conquest. John and his wife were incredibly kind to us and so once more we enjoyed the kindness and hospitality that we enjoyed throughout our travels .

Doughnut, 10 years old, one of our King's Troop horses, is a sweet and good natured mare. She is ,like Penny, a wheeler in D Sub Section and is therefore more used to pulling than carrying. Nick Hamilton would not be surprised! She was bought in Ireland in about 2003 to match the colour of horse for that Sub section. She is the typical type of King's Troop horse, strong limbed and keen but no beauty. She has the most lovely mahogany coat. Sadly she now has a sore back and will not be ridden before the end of our trip.

Jo is Jim's horse , 7 years old, and named after the man who sold the horse to him, Jo Colingbourn of the VWH. The original Irish name was so unpronounceable that it had to be changed. By chance Jo's wife, Ro, is descended from the original Parry family who were closely connected (maybe too intimately connected!!) to Henry Tudor. Ro came to our event in Cardiff last week. Jo,the horse is a good solid sort whom I have seen in action in the hunting field. He has also raced in the Yeomanry Race only just being beaten by Wogan see yesterdays post. About 17 hands, he is well set for this trip showing no sign of fatigue or bad temper. He is definitely a "Chairman's horse".

Here we are pausing at the Grecian Temple in Chillington where we were so well and generously looked after. Late in the evening we were joined by many new arrivals, on the human side there was Maggy Denaro and Virginia Cunningham who ride with us to morrow. On the horse side we have the famous Spot and Mozart(!!!!) ( I look forward to seeing what tune she plays). After note on Friday morning---- I am pained to see that Spot has rolled and we have two very large stable stains!! Oh well. The day is dull again but the clouds are high as are our spirits.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

And so into England

Another day dawned at Plas Dynam and it all looked very promising but by the time we had had a very hearty breakfast the outlook in the clouds was decidedly menacing, such is the climate in Wales! We met Jean Jones at her farm: she had had a party also the night before and both Rebecca and Emma had a lovely time, quite right too.

The Jones family entered into the spirit of our venture with such enthusiasm that it touched our hearts. Tim and Dan are pictured here and clearly run a very efficient farm. WE set sail with a smaller party towards Powys Castle, the point at which we handed over from all those who supportedvus in Wales to those who took the mantle on in England. Charlie Nutting (shown at right) our man there had done a grand job and we riders will all remember the kindness showed to us in Wales.

We rode with speed and determination towards our goal led by Margaret, another friend and helper of Jean's. We had to change into our costumes at Pen y bryn in preparation for our arrival at Powys Castle. However matters were complicated by the various birds of prey which also resided where we were changing. Stitch, Thatch and a few others were less certain of the hooded beasts.

At the bottom of this page is a brief video shot as we left for the day>

On we went and the accompanying photos show our progress. The weather was ' undecided' but warm. The scenery was impressive for being so green and entirely pasture and we had to avoid a host of frenatic activity as farmers cleared their sileage.

WE made the park at Powys Castle by 1130 and were met by a good crowd including the Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Shan Legge-Bourke. She is seen here presenting the ceremonial carrot! We were able to enter the courtyard of the Castle where various local journalists photographed us.

After a good lunch arranged by Peter Knox we set on our way again over the River Severn several times and ended up at Hilley Farm where Anna Jones and her husband farm when she is not helping out Peter in the ABF office in Shrewsbury. Philip Jones, Master of the North Shropshire on a very smart looking horse guided us with some style. Clive (left "what would we do without mobile telephones!), my son got a ride on Mr Stitch having driven up from Gloucestershire to support us.

As usual it seems there was a fund raising event at Shrewsbury School where Richard as ever spoke brilliantly, but this time on Marlborough. For us riders this was somewhat of a relief having heard about 1485 four times! Richard was at his best and the his audience loved it! Well done Peter and Anna for a really good event. We have all been incredibly well looked after by Edward and Ros Tate who have put the entire gang up at their ancient and historical house, The Isle, which nestles in an almost complete loop of the Severn River. As ever the hospitality freely given is humbling.

Mr Stitch a 17 hand 1 " thoroughbred was bought from a Master of the Quorn 3 years ago and by the first day of his new ownership he had dumped his master twice. But now this 17 hand 2 " has settled down into a really reliable horse that will take a fence and still have time to light a cigarette. He is a joy in the stable and already he is favorite in the string. He has however lost his name in being obstinate in getting intop trailer.; he has much to make up for!! Thank good ness for his adviser and confidante Melissa, who looks after him at Oxlease Farm. I have really enjoyed riding him on this trip, he is well mannered, long suffering and so far he is sound.

We have had a farrier on site for a couple hours, the shoes of many have been worn down and Thatch, Doughnut and Mr Stitch have had their hind hoofs re sorted. He seemed a business like young apprentice., who had no difficulty on dealing with such a sudden and urgent demand.

Wogan is Arthur's horse and by some sort of telepathy he is remakably similar in character. 17 hands and 3 inches. a fine hunter from Ireland. He has hunted in the toughest countries of the land, eg, the Wynnstay, Meynell and Golden Valley. He has also competed in the Wessex Yeomanry Race and is a kind and constant companion to Burt , the donkey. He seems a pleasant character., although when swimming out of his depth in the River Wye was thought to be a noisy and ferocious hippo.

Thank you to all those who are reading this blog nonsense for your enthusiasm and interest.

To morrow is a quieter day and this is as well as all the horses are showing signs of fatigue ( and so am I) and a quiet day or two will now get us there.