Today’s tour took me away from Arabians to the world of Thoroughbreds and what an eye-opening and refreshing morning it was.
In a past life, I had a fair amount to do with the world of racing here in the UK and sadly always found it to be very manufactured with many stunning, talented animals being mentally and physically wrecked before they even reached 2 years.
With the connection being a yearling colt recently purchased by Linda and him living 10minutes down the road from my home village I could not resist meeting him and the people involved.
I met with the very knowledgeable Andrea Brereton who is a friend and co-owner in another super 3DE horse “Springpower” (another story one day!!) with Linda who warmly welcomed me and then started the tour of 'Culworth Grounds' an amazing equine facility set in the most picturesque location.
The facility is owned and ran by Sophie Buckley who is a talented horsewoman in many disciplines and we met her on the blustery gallops a short distance from the busy farm like barn.
Expecting to see a string of racehorses flying up the gallops I was taken back to see Sophie astride the biggest most handsome chestnut Hunter (18hh I’m sure!) “Big Arch”! calmly leading the most delicate yearling filly. This was obviously not the traditionally ran TB yard.
It was explained that they are in the midst of yearling prep for the up and coming sales later in the year with over 20 fillies and colts being prepared. After being hand-selected as foals they start the most wonderful education that to me is very unique in this industry. The aim is to produce a young horse who is as sound in mind as in physical peak condition.
Every youngster is treated as an individual and enjoys a routine to suit their temperament. As well as the normal groundwork, long reining, and expert handling in the stables they are led up and down the gallops in a walk then onto trot. Focusing on straightness knowing full well much of the career ahead will be going in circles at speed. With the busy hustle and bustle of farm life in full swing tractors, trucks, dogs even children in ponies the young horses were all relaxed and very content. At night they are all stabled in airy boxes boys one end and girls the other and surprisingly turned out in groups throughout the day.
The team caring for them all experienced and very much proud of their charges. Even though the busiest part of the day with horses on the walker, leading and standing up practice in the indoor arena, resident vet doing her rounds it was all very organised and a relaxed atmosphere.
After this we met the marvellous Magic (Magician IRE x Celerina IRE), Linda's colt, who now not being prepped for sale was happily out in the paddock in a group. I instantly knew which was Linda’s colt when he wandered over for a scratch showing his wonderful temperament and slightly comedy look as he has little to no forelock!
After fussing him and standing back you could see what a powerful horse he potentially will become, with a huge hindquarter in character with the classic TB sprinter. It was so lovely to see, much like OSO, young horses of the same age growing up together in not the traditional manicured flat paddocks but undulating hills, which we all know will help the horses in the long term.
Next, we moved on to the mares and foals, where I well and truly got my fill of foal cuddles.
Much as the TB world seems a million miles from our own Arab stud and endurance yard this superb facility and team very much held the same qualities and virtues as OSO. Always putting the quality of the horse's life foremost and forever evolving in the very changing world.
Huge thanks to Andrea for a very informative tour with no question unanswered (and birthday lunch!!!) and to Sophie for very much making a successful business out of improving the way young fragile horses are produced. We are very excited to see Magic thrive at Culworth Grounds.