Working Horse Weekend
Working Horse Weekend returns to The Lost Gardens of Heligan on 18th and 19th September. For one weekend our historic estate celebrates heavy and working horses and the work they carry out on estates, farms and woodlands across the southwest, and the skills of horsemanship that have sadly become less regularly seen.
In 2019 Heligan welcomed several Heavy Horses to raise awareness of these magnificent animals, and of their continued decline in numbers. This year Heligan invites visitors to turn back the clock to a time when horses were in place of any machinery and maintained a focal point of the working Heligan estate.
Proudly in collaboration with The Cornish Heavy Horse Society and The Exmoor Pony Society, this two-day working theatre of heavy horses and rare breed ponies will work around Heligan and its Estate, in the same way they would have done over 200 years ago.
Heavy horses played a pivotal role in the agricultural and industrial revolutions, working in the fields, mines, docks, quarries and mills, and alongside the canals and railways. At the turn of the 20th century, 2.6 million horses were at work in agriculture and industry. Following two world wars and the introduction of tractors and lorries, numbers declined dramatically, reaching an all-time low in the 1950's with some breeds nearing extinction.
The Tremayne family lived at Heligan from around 1600 and documentation has been discovered that details the large number of horses stabled at Heligan and used to farm the fields, to pull timber from the woodlands and their ample manure piles used to fire up the pineapple pits! The creation of the Georgian ride enabled more direct access for horses carrying produce, equipment and supplies destined for Heligan house. Alongside the farm work, horses were the primary mode of transportation locally and outside of Cornwall and provided recreational opportunity as well, with many family members taking up riding, and enjoying travelling their estate in carriages.
This two-day event will enable visitors to get up close to these impressive horses and watch them in action working across the Heligan estate and providing demonstrations within our paddocks again.
The ever-popular Blacksmith demonstrations shall take place on both days within The Barn, as Heligan Farrier Rob Barnbrook showcases his phenomenal skills.
The most popular of all of our animals is Courage, our gentle but giant young shire horse. This weekend will see him step in to the role he has been long in training for, as he demonstrates the skills of logging within the woodlands and estate. Do join us for his moment in the spotlight.
This event is supported by RBST Cornwall and The Cornish Heavy Horse Society, and staff will be on hand to offer information and advice about Heavy Horses and Rare Breed Ponies, and to let visitors know how they can get involved!
All of our Rare Breeds Month activities are included within Garden Entry. To book a visit, please click here.