As country based estate agents, we frequently receive enquiries about equestrian property for sale. These range from requests for modest cottages with enough land for keeping a pony to grand country houses with extensive acreage and all the facilities that the pampered thoroughbred requires. Despite being in a rural area, it is actually quite difficult to satisfy the strong demand for homes with grazing land.
Even if not directly involved with them oneself, horses are very much part of the local landscape. A popular country pursuit in the spring months is going to point-to-point race meetings. With most courses situated on farmland, they are less formal than professional racing and make for an enjoyable social gathering, often involving a picnic, visit to the beer tent and a flutter with the on-site bookies.
The origins of point-to-point racing can be traced back to an Irish horse race in the 1750’s between one town’s church steeple and the next, hence the term ‘steeplechase’. It used to be seen as an opportunity for a farmer to give his old hunter a spot of exercise, nowadays however, whilst still amateur and organised exclusively by local hunts, point-to-pointing is an altogether more serious, regulated sport.
The competing horses are classified as hunting horses and must be thoroughbreds whilst their owners have to be hunt members and registered with the Point-to-Point Authority. Jockeys are amateurs but have to registered and qualified riders. Although some horses are still ‘home grown’, most are stabled in ‘livery yards’ run as unlicensed training yards although often closely associated with professional establishments.
Races are run under BHA (the British Horse Racing Authority) rules and are at least three miles long and with most courses being 1.5 miles in length (Larkhill being one of the exceptions), this means that usually horses have to complete two circuits. All courses must have a minimum of 18 fences of which two have to have ditches with the fences made of birch and around four & half feet high.
Courses local to South Wiltshire & North Dorset include; Badbury Rings (Wimborne), Milborne St Andrew (Blandford), Larkhill (Amesbury) and Charlton Horethorne (Sherborne).
My experience of attending point-to points is that it is almost an obligation that they are located on high windy ground with views over the surrounding countryside whilst the punters represent a broad church of country folk dressed in a variety of green outdoor clothing, wellies and caps accompanied by gaggles of children and dogs. All great fun!
If we can help you find the perfect equestrian property, please contact the Rural View team who have extensive knowledge of the local area and potential upcoming opportunities with equestrian property nearby.