Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published October 27th 2010
This oddly-named, sandy track has been horse-riding central for London society since the late 1600s, when it was established as a quiet 'Route du Roi' for William III on his way to Kensington Palace. The ladies no longer ride side-saddle here and nobody dresses to promenade or shows off their Dalmatian coaches, but you'll still see horsemen and women in some of London's smartest riding gear, atop some of the best-kept horses in the country.
The celebrated Hyde Park Stables are responsible for most of this, and offer excellent, expert riding lessons for those of any age and ability. Even if you've never met a horse before, they'll have one who will be polite and forgiving enough to carry you around the five miles worth of Hyde Park bridleways. For more advanced horse-people they've also got two outdoor arenas where you can perfect the finer points of dressage or jumping. You can ride with a group or get one on one lessons – as long as you're older than five.
You won't be the only one out on horseback, the Household Cavalry take their steeds out here every day, and sometimes you'll see them practicing with one of her majesty's buggies, or the funerary carriages, just to keep the horses used to them. If they are out with a carriage you'll often see a full procession, if not it will just be a row of perfectly dressed horses, and riders, all behaving impeccably. How terribly British.
As well as ambling down Rotten Row, a ride though Hyde Park will most likely also take you past the Albert Memorial, and the less inspiring Diana Memorial Fountain, along the banks of the Serpentine, past the Household Cavalry barracks and Queen Elizabeth Gate and up past the green to Speakers Corner where you're back amongst the horse-less carriages of modernity.
If you're a proper horse-lover, or you know one, Hyde Park Stables also runs Half Day Camps, which you can pay for using a gift voucher, if someone is kind enough to give you one – hint hint.