Loose Reins- A NYE with a western twist by Kent Equine Photographer Frog and Field
After seeing Loose Reins pop up my timeline a few times I decided to get on with it and book a stay.
I have a love hate relationship with NYE. I love what it symbolises, new starts, new goals and a fresh slate but I always find the evening is a bit of an anti climax. So with this in mind we decided a stay in a log cabin would be perfect!
Day One at Loose Reins:
We arrived after the usual battle with the M25 but had allowed ample time. A warm smile greeted us and we were directed to the office. Straight away the atmosphere of calmness welcomed us. Into the office we headed where Michelle greeted us with a cuppa and showed us around. I had a great chat with Michelle and find how it was all set up fascinating – a blog post for the future I’m sure
Then it was into my lesson. Andrea sat down with me and asked me a bit about my experience and my nervous disposition. She explained she had a few horses tacked up but after speaking to me she felt yogi would be a good match.
Already I was impressed and the lesson I had with Andrea continued to impress me. It may not have seemed like a lot to an observer but we were focusing on getting some good feels and I was amazed at how soft and round a horse could go when ridden western! Andrea is a great believer in core strength for both horse and rider and has such a wonderful story to tell- another blog post for sure. We then did a bit of ‘jog’ Work and focused on getting the jog super steady and round plus me relaxed and absorbing the movement. It was over too quick but I was delighted to hear Yogi would be my ride for the following day’s trail ride.
Loose Reins Cabin Cuteness
Onto the cabin. Michelle showed us up to the most delightful cabin. Based on a pioneer cabin these have been hand crafted in Dorset and are just so cute! Filled with home comforts and so many details. Little touches like Christmas decorations, cotton wool pads, fresh eggs and a heated blanket. They really have thought of everything. There’s an honestly shop filled with yummy local delights and en route are the cutest Pygmy goats. Possibly Margaux’s favourite thing.
We got ourselves unpacked and watched Andrea schooling the horses. In between I chatted to Michelle and admired their many awards. This place is making quite an impact for all the right reasons
The sun went down and we retired to the cabin. A wonderful one pot meal was in the fridge ready and we gobbled it up! So yummy. Bellies full we retired to the decking where we wrapped up in blankets-provided there already-and drank wine whilst listening to the owls. We had a brief marshmallow toasting session before the rain came and went to bed to the sound of rain.
Margaux was a naughty rat bag and so sadly I can’t say we slept well but it was very cosy that’s for sure.
Loose Reins: My Yogi Bear
Second day came around and it had rained all night. The ground was sodden and Margaux wallowed in the mud whilst we negotiated the gas grill. After a while we successfully made ourselves breakfast and again this was taken at leisure. We were able to have a gloriously hot shower and we were ready for the day.
I was reunited with my Yogi and myself, Roger and Andrea headed off on a trail ride. Roger riding Red, a baby who has progressed massively with Andrea and Roger’s guidance. Andrea explained to me that all the ‘older’ horses were out on a 2 month winter holiday. They’d worked hard over the summer so were having a well deserved rest whilst the babies stepped up. Andrea took the sweetest new forest pony called Scout. So well behaved and was ridden in just a halter!
Loose Reins is in an old quarry and the trail ride took us up and up to the top of the quarry. Richard and Margaux tried to join in and whilst they had a ball we soon left them behind. 2 hours of the most amazing trail ride followed. Terrain that was challenging to say the least but Yogi looked after me and was star. He does like to toss his mane which I did find unsettling but the joy of western is the bond and also the large pommel! We rode across every terrain. Wide open fields and then via winding forest tracks where we saw a deer!
The end of the ride got more challenging when a lightening storm occurred! Again because I’m a nervous Nellie this was quite disconcerting but once again the horses were amazing and we arrived safely back, just quite wet!
Loose Reins: Like family
Mark, Michelle’s husband greeted us with a warm log fire and some processco so we all warmed up whilst enjoying a glass of bubbles. It was lovely hearing about not only Loose Reins but also how Andrea had been working on all the horses and what she had been doing prior to Loose Reins. Mark was an excellent host and couldn’t have made us feel more welcome. Michelle is as equally fantastic, sorting out bookings for us for lunch.
I do have to say all the horses were immaculate. In wonderful condition and such happy souls. Whilst the riding isn’t cheap I’d rather pay more and know the horses were happy and well looked after. They had lovely turnout and hay coming out of their ears. They also have the most spacious stables fully equipped with rubber matting and it’s clear no expense has been spared.
We helped putting the horses out for the night and then after a failed attempt at a beach trip decided to settle in for the night. A Lamb tagine was ready for us in the fridge and it was a delicious meal to end the year on. We drank champagne and watched the stars. Margaux was arsing about and the moon was so bright it was amazing. We had also managed to get the log fire going so we were snug as a bug whilst we drank and played scrabble. Not the most rock and roll NYE but perfect all the same.
Loose Reins: Day 3- short and sweet
We had a much better night’s sleep as Margaux had seemed to settle and resisted the urge to grwol every five minutes! Honestly for a ball of fluff she is such a little guard dog. Sadly Mr T had taken a little tumble in the rain the previous day and was nursing a gammy ankle. We tried unsuccessfully to watch a hunt meet and decided to pack up and head home. Such a shame as the walks were amazing and we had just got settled. Still being somewhere for walking when you can’t really walk isnt much fun so after a quick trip to the Museum Inn at Blanford we headed home. Fab food there too BTW!
Already we are planning the next trip and if you ever want a trip to Dorset with a Western twist I cannot rate Loose Reins enough!