If you ever get the chance to visit this place, please do! I spotted the advert in a "things to do in Dorset rag" and knowing Phoebe's current love of horses suggested it as a morning out activity. Well, for £25 we arrived at 11am and didn't leave until almost 4pm! Although it is only a small site it is incredibly well set out. We arrived to the find the boss rigging up Smokey Joe for cart rides, he was explaining every bit of the harness and why it is important to buy well for the sake of the horse. Phoebe also got to have a little pull around the yard in a little cart set up with a Shetland Pony while we watched.
By the time Smokey Joe was ready to take visitors off on a trip around the centre another worker came out with buckets to feed all the animals. Phoebe and Clara got involved with gusto and fed 3 of the heavy horses, all the shetlands, goats, a sheep named Phoebe (our Phoebe was delighted with that!), pigs, a Wussy Bull, a pair of donkeys and a pony called Peanut (who was later to feature again).
Once they had finished feeding the animals there was just time to go and get some cuddles with a baby bunny before number one ride of the day. Phoebe was a little too young for the rides but because she had ridden before and is quite tall they let her have a go. She was, of course, thrilled! Peanut was less so and distinctly unamused with having to walk around the small paddock with children. At least he bore his brunt sensibly and just dragged his feet instead of being silly though!
Then we had a nice lunch in the little cafe they have there. Paul and I had coronation chicken and the girls had beans on toast, of course only their toast got eaten but hey ho! Then it was time to meet the rest of the horses that live in the centre. I think we got to meet 5, all slightly different breeds and all beautiful but some with very sad stories. The moral of all of the tales though was that the will of the horse to get better means so much more than the injury. The man who gave the talk was so funny and down to earth and yet also so very passionate about these horses, it was really fascinating! It was so clear that the horses have a fantastic life and are very loved at this place. You can read a little more about the individual horses here it is amazing what they have done with some of them and how steadily they work to improve their lives. Phoebe's favourite bit of this was going around and petting all the horses afterwards, I will remind you at this point that she is as big as some of their heads! She showed no fear (unlike Clara who is a little more cautious) and even when one of the horses accidentally knocked her back against the stable door when she was hugging it's head she didn't cry she just bounced up and declared "Oh Fred!" with a quick roll of her eyes and then went onto the next horse!
Then we had a quick play on the equipment they have there before taken Smokey Joe up on an offer of a trip around the farm on his cart. Which the girls loved and pointed out all the animals they had fed earlier! Then we went back for some more bunny love. Alas it was at this point we had to test the First Aid kit they have there as Phoebe got a splinter in her finger. I think after the fuss she made of me taking out made even the farrier they have admit that he would rather shoe a heavy horse than take a splinter out of a Phoebe finger! Bless them though they gave her a free pony ride to cheer her up so we made poor Peanut suffer some more Phoebe love! By that time we realised it was 4pm and, as we planned to have a swim on the way home we said goodbye to all the horses and got in the car. Without a word of a lie both girls were asleep by the time we got 5 minutes down the road! We decided against going for a swim as they were both so tired.
As a consolation prize to the girls we decided to go to the show at the entertainment complex. Paul and I lovingly sat watching how Princess Anxious, Naughty Ned and Roary the Tiger met and made friends with a Dragon. Phoebe wasn't too happy when they geared up to meeting the dragon but Clara was suitably in the moment! Then they did games and dancing which, to our surprise, the girls were really into! Phoebe declared her wish to go on the stage on the way home, so like me... it was my childhood ambition to go on the stage during a pantomime! We finally got 2 shattered children into bed and relaxed after a fantastic day!