Plotting trails over ‘Hockney landscapes’

DAVID HOCKNEY’S hugely popular exhibition at the Royal Academy in London is in its final week, with opening hours extended so that as many people as possible can see his now famous paintings of the Yorkshire Wolds.

This area of Yorkshire has been rather a well-kept secret but now the “Hockney effect” is said to be drawing more visitors to this peaceful part of the world.

Horse riders are among those discovering the delights of the quiet valleys and chalky uplands of the Wolds, thanks to a project by Ride Yorkshire.

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The Easter weekend (weather permitting) could be an ideal opportunity to explore the area where Ride Yorkshire have mapped out a series of routes for riders. The routes can either be ridden individually as day rides, or combined to form a five-day circular trip, with accommodation for horse and rider available along the way.

The trails pass through some of the villages which feature in Hockney’s work, including Thixendale, Sledmere and Warter.

The latter is the scene of his immense Bigger Trees canvas. However, the copse of trees, on the edge of the Warter Priory estate, unfortunately no longer exists – the trees were cut down as some were considered to be a danger to nearby cottages.

Ride Yorkshire was set up in 2010 by four riding enthusiasts with backgrounds in tourism, business and equestrianism.

They are keen to promote and develop leisure riding opportunities across Yorkshire for horse owners and non-owners and they have developed a number of riding holiday packages.

The Wolds routes are free to download at www.rideyorkshire.org, or for more information call 01439 798108.

‘A Bigger Picture’ at the Royal Academy finishes on Monday. The exhibition is open until midnight tonight and tomorrow and until 10pm over the Easter weekend.

Richmond Horse Trials has a new addition to its event in May, where Intermediate classes will be run for the first time.

British team regular Nicola Wilson, who lives near Northallerton, has already confirmed that she will be attending.

After walking the course recently, Nicola said: “It is a lovely, flowing course, a good course to step up from Novice with some educational elements.”

The Intermediate and Open Intermediate classes will run on Friday morning, May 11 so that competitors can then go on to Chatsworth, which also runs that weekend.

As well as the new Intermediate course, Richmond’s BE90 and BE100 courses are suitable for first-timers, with alternatives at any of the more difficult fences.

Part of the Novice course will be run over new ground, with the addition of an open ditch complex adding a new dimension to the Novice track.

The event runs from May 11-13.

The Spanish Riding School of Vienna is to make a return visit to this country in November. This time the famous Lipizzaner stallions will be in Birmingham for three performances on November 16, 17 and 18.

The highly trained horses and riders will give a display of classical equitation, demonstrating the balance and harmony that is achieved between horse and rider.

The event will be hosted by Nicki Chapman along with Olympic dressage rider Carl Hester and Paralympic gold medallist Lee Pearson.

Carl and Lee will be demonstrating some of the dressage movements used in modern-day dressage, some of which are derived from the training used at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna.

Tickets have just gone on sale. For more information, go to www.livenation.co.uk.

New Forest ponies are to get their own qualifiers for the Horse of the Year Show.

The organisers of the event, Grandstand Media, announced that there are to be eight stand-alone qualifiers for New Forest ponies, separate from the Connemaras, against which they usually compete.

New height divisions for the Mountain and Moorland Working Hunter classes are also to be introduced. Both these changes will take place next year.

New Forest ponies have only been able to qualify for HOYS in classes which also include Connemaras. But over the past two years, more New Forest ponies have been coming forward in these qualifiers and there has been a marked increase in the number of top class animals, say Grandstand Media.

The new qualifiers will be in addition to a number of qualifiers with Connemaras. For the HOYS final, both breeds will be judged as a combined class.

“The New Forest Pony Society has implemented a good breeding programme and we are now seeing the results of this,” said Helena Pettit, managing director of Grandstand Media.

The Mountain and Moorland Working Hunter pony classes are to be split into four height divisions for next year’s qualifiers – not exceeding 122cm; not exceeding 133cm; not exceeding 143cm and exceeding 143cm.

“When looking at each breed’s heights and capabilities, these divisions gave the best split to allow for a much fairer competition, without penalising any one breed for a particular inherent trait,” said Helena Pettit.