Riding Lessons

[audio: /wp-content/uploads/2011/12/riding_lessons.mp3]

Olga Brandt-Bull taught riding on the Downs before the war. She remembers an unfortunate accident.

photograph of a brown and white hourse looking at the camera

Horse Head (Adrian Parnham)


Olga Brandt Bull:

I was a riding instructress before the war, before I got married. And I used to bring my ride up onto the Downs which was a lovely thing to be able to do, and we actually rode down by the Ladies Mile and on by Miss Clarks patch, that’s where the lavatories are now. I think some of the happiest times of my life were really riding. There were quite a lot of people riding on the Downs, before the war. Well you felt there was freedom with the Downs because they were a gift as the city and council weren’t they, and it was a lovely sight as well. I didn’t usually teach a child until about 5 because of the stretch, you know, across on their legs but I taught right the way through to quite elderly people really. The horses were a joy. We had small ponies for the children, we had polo ponies which were delightful to ride because they were fast and you could change their legs every other step if you wanted to . We had hunters, we had hacks. It was hard. My father had said to the boss of the stables ‘make or break her’, and I thought no way are they going to break me. It was a lot of fun, I loved the teaching especially the children.

Horse riding pictures by children in Year 4-5, Burnbush Primary School

Horse riding pictures by children in Year 4-5, Burnbush Primary School

We did have one exploit on the Downs which wasn’t quite so good. I had one of the canons of the cathedral out for a ride, plus a girl who wasn’t very steady. And as we came round towards Sea Walls a dog came out from somewhere and yapped blue murder, and her horse took off, and so I said to the canon ‘whatever you do don’t go after her, pull on one rein and go round in a circle’, and I went after her and I caught her bridle but not quick enough to save her as well and she came off on the road, and she gashed her head. A maid from one of the houses on the Downs there came rushing out and said ‘here’s a drink’, you know, give her a drink, I said ‘no, give it to me’ and I’d never drunk in my life. I said would she phone the doctor and we got her into the hospital and of course I had to tell her parents that she had fallen off and gashed her head. And I said whatever you do as soon as she gets out of bed she must get back on a horse or she will never do it again. She did she was very good, she went back, but that was a bit scary. When the war was on the actual stables where I leanred and taught, they closed down because the two nephews were killed – one at the top here, one in France.

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