Thursday, 16th July, Badminton to West Kington, 7 miles (including one mile going down wrong lane)
Today’s walk is without doubt the shortest ‘ride’ to date, but if it shaves 2 1/2 hours off tomorrow’s ride then well worth it and Chris has kindly delivered our kit so Tommy is able to walk unclothed, again.
Our biggest challenge today is crossing the M4 motorway but Tommy has no problem going under it through the underpass which has made me think perhaps I should rethink our next M5 crossing and find an underpass rather than an overpass to get over (under) it.
Our host is Jane Holderness Roddam and her husband Tim. Here she is checking on some of her young stock.
Jane is a bit of a legend in the world of Eventing. Not only was she a winner on her horse, Our Nobby, at Badminton Horse Trials in 1968 but was also picked for the British Olympic Team (the first woman in a discipline previously dominated by men) who went on to win a Gold Medal in Eventing at the Mexico Olympics the very same year. Jane was 20 at the time and riding her pony club ‘pony’, who was affectionately known as ‘Loppy’ a small thoroughbred who had been rescued from the knackers as a foal and who only just reached 15 hh…..enough to qualify him for the team. She kindly lent me the delightful scrap-book she had made at the time, as my bed time reading.
Jane comes from a very talented family, her elder sister, Jennie Loriston-Clarke, has excelled in the dressage arena and one of her brothers, who ran a horse transport company at the time, was responsible for flying the horses to Mexico for the Olympics that year.
Jane’s mother, Anne Bullen, (1912-1963),
was a talented artist who illustrated many books with her drawings. (Main picture above, and some of the dust jackets, below)
She was particularly fond of drawing Native horse breeds. Jane showed me a little tray with a print of this Connemara mare and foal.
It also turns out that up until a few years ago, Jane was on the British Connemara Pony Society Committee, and still judges them. I hesitate to ask what she thinks of Tommy but she replies very positively about his attributes.
Jane works tirelessly not only for the benefit of equestrian sport in general, but also the welfare of horses which she cares passionately about. She has also been a life-long supporter of the Brooke and World Horse Welfare, both horse welfare charities. And to top it all, she was National Chairman of the RDA from 2000 to 2010. Tomorrow, she is off to the annual RDA National Championships at Hartpury, so I am lucky to have caught her before she goes off. She lends me these white crocs before telling me she wore them when she carried the Olympic Torch for the British Games. All this and so very modest to boot.
The Holderness Roddams run an equine breeding programme from their farm and before we set off the following morning, the stud manager, Tessa Clarke, shows me around the facility, including the lab where the semen, collected from their own prize stallions, as well as others, is processed and stored ready for exporting to all over the world. There are only two companies in the UK who carry out this important work and theirs is one of them, enjoying a considerable reputation.
My bedroom overlooks the field where some of the visiting mares with their new foals live. On the other side of the house, I had a perfect view of Tommy in his temporary stable.
It has been a real privilege for us to stay here.