Teddington isn’t a place that is usually associated with horse riding these days. By looking at the past, we can find some rich historical context, though. We can also see how horse riding continues to be a popular past-time here. There is even a fascinating link to a mysterious, successful racehorse to look into.
Hunting in Teddington
It isn’t easy to imagine what Teddington was like in past centuries. Yet, by focussing on an activity like hunting, we can perhaps get a clearer picture of what it used to be like.
For example, Henry VIII used to hunt here on horseback. Back in the 16th century, Cardinal Wolsey handed over the land that includes Bushy Park to the King, as a gift.
In this way, it passed from being a patchwork of different pieces of agricultural land to being used by royalty and their guests for recreational purposes. Among the main attractions here was hunting, as the fields contained wildlife like deer, just as it does today.
One of Henry VII’s first actions upon being gifted the land was to create the space needed for deer hunting. The tradition of hunting on horseback carried on here in the following centuries, even as the land evolved and new uses were found for other parts of it.
A horse fair was also held near here in the past, in Kingston Upon Thames. It started up before the 15th century, so it is easy to picture King Henry VIII sending his men there to purchase horses and supplies for his noble guests.
Horse Riding in Bushy Park
It has become increasingly common for visitors to take a short horse ride through Bushy Park. This can be arranged through Park Lane Stables, where classes are available for beginners through to experienced riders.
Princess Anne visited the stables a few years ago, after refurbishments had been carried out to them. If we look at some up-to-date online reviews, the majority of people who have tried horse riding in Teddington seem to have thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Royal Parks site confirms that the Horse Rangers Association (HRA) also operate here. They help children and young people to develop new skills by giving them a chance to look after horses. There is a special needs section located at the Indoor Riding School at the Stockyard.
It is worth pointing out that the HRA has a waiting list at the time of writing. This applies to both their mainstream group and to their special needs activities.
A Horse Named Teddington
One of the most intriguing links to the horse racing world comes from the success of a thoroughbred racehorse named Teddington. What relationship did he have to the place of the same name?
Teddington was one of the most successful racehorses of his time. His career ran from 1850 to 1853. During those years, he won 10 out of the 18 races that he competed in. This included the Doncaster Cup and the Emperor of Russia’s Plate. The horse was then sent to stud before finally ending up in Hungary.
Some online research reveals that the horse was bred in Huntingdon by a blacksmith named Jack Tomlinson. A fee of 250 guineas saw him sold as a foal to Sir Joseph Hawley, 3rd Baronet. Hawley was a well-known racehorse owner who sent his horses out to train in Wiltshire.
However, as he was born in London it could be that he used this name as a tribute to a place he knew well. He was said to be against gambling in general, but he once won £80,000 on a horse race. Apparently, he had no problem understanding the odds involved and would maybe compete in the Kentucky Derby today.
The owner will usually name a foal, although there are many different ways that this can be done. The horse’s mother (or dam) was called Miss Twickenham, strengthening the links to South-West London. However, since his glory days came so long ago, we might never know why he was given this particular name.