While we’re very used to seeing pigeons and foxes scurrying around the streets of the capital, making themselves just that bit too comfortable in our bins and window boxes, the horses of London tend to keep themselves to themselves. Weird Horse, however, is totally OK with letting us know what he’s been up to, and has been kind enough to share his five favourite London spots. Go explore. Take a sugar cube. Ashleigh Arnott
Hyde Park Stables
As a horse, it’s no secret that I love a good trot. I’m no stranger to a lengthy gallop either, and I think this is why I adore the stables in Hyde Park. Open space is offered as amply as some of the most generous portions of private land in the capital and the scenery is second to none. I got my first taste of Hyde Park Stables in the early noughties during a brief and unfulfilling career with the mounted branch in West Hampstead. It was a warm Friday; a Friday with the kind of heat that really cranks up the potency of our freshly-laid dung on the tarmac. One of the officers kindly allowed us to clock out early, have some ‘horse time’ (the equestrian equivalent of authorised unpaid leave), so we dropped our saddles, neighed a bit and darted off the premises. Led by some of the more senior studs, we headed to Hyde Park Riding School, passing through Regent’s Park en-route to wash our hooves in the boating lake. I was young and easily influenced, in awe of the bigger boys’ power and confidence. We spent a good four hours at the stables taking in the atmosphere, licking sap off tree-trunks, neighing, defecating and alternating between trots and gallops. It was a good day. However, good things, as they say, never last forever and in 2006 I was banned from Hyde Park Riding School for eating a fermented pear and galloping unmanned through a flower bed before falling asleep at Speaker’s Corner covered in manure. It was a low-point.
Kentish Town City Farm
During his divorce, Mr B Farmer was terribly depressed. His wife had moved to Leeds with another farmer and took three geese and his happiness with her. He lost his passion for farming and upkeep was at an unprecedented low. This lull contributed to the loss of his tractor licence, farm tax and income, which signalled the end of me as a companion. Temporarily, I was given away. Ever since I was just a tiny foal I’ve lived on a farm. Farms are where I want to be. But Kentish Town City Farm has a real ‘home-from-home’ vibe and that’s why I spend a lot of time there when I’m at a loose end. I spent two years with the cockney chickens and the fat donkey that stays in the corner. I never got to know any of them personally but it’s a friendly place with an infinite supply of either hay or baked beans, depending on what foodstuff you’re after. I will certainly be visiting again, diary permitting.
Spices curry house, 10 Chapel Market, N1 9EZ
This is a wonderful place. It’s situated in the heart of Angel, a place I often frequent if I’m saddle-free. On arrival your nasals are filled with some of the most beautiful smells in the world, a lot of which are of spices, which I think is where they got the name. Spices have a ‘bring your own’ policy on alcohol – you can source your own liquor offsite and quite literally bring it with you to accompany your food. They do stock a ‘house’ lassi of the mango variety and although I’ve never tried it, I’m told it goes down the oesophagus with impeccable ease. The food selection is vast, vaster than say, a slightly smaller selection, and some of the things on offer don’t so much make you salivate but bring you to tears. Despite visiting Spices over eight times in the last 18 months, I haven’t had the chance to experience any of this because I’m not allowed in because I’m a horse.
Thames Barrier Park, Docklands, SE18 5NJ
I’ve trotted, galloped and even cantered through some of the finest parks in the UK but very few have come to matching the sheer stripiness of Thames Barrier Park. Situated next to Pontoon Dock, the park can be found via light overground rail, on a journey that weaves through the financial district in the Docklands area. Being a horse, I’m blissfully unaware of the FSTE 100 but I know that humans like it and I respect that. Like a giraffe’s neck, Thames Barrier Park is long and beautiful. Packed to the sides with undulating hedges and greens, the scenery could inspire anyone and anything from a new born baby to a small, brown crow. The hedges are pruned, really pruned, and although no prunes are involved, it’s clear to see that pruning is. My horsey pals and I often saddle up and head down to the park with a bag of porridge and chill out next to the hedges for a day or two. As the night falls, Thames Barrier Park is usually left to the equines, until the local police arrive and politely remind us that we’re horses and should either be in a stable and under human supervision or put down.
Balham High Road
Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Argos, Nando’s, Snappy Snaps. You put this ‘power five’ on a road and accompany them all with a busy, busker-laden train station and you’re onto something great. If the opinions of horses meant anything to humans, then they would know that for a horse, Balham High Road is a joy to behold. When facing north, the left hand pavement is wide enough to accommodate two, even three horses trotting abreast; it really is one of the finest pavements inside the M25 and that’s saying something, because there are some absolutely breathtaking pavements in and around Primrose Hill. The tramps expect very little of passersby and don’t expect a thing from passing horses. Our lack of pockets, knowledge of currency and opposable thumbs means we have little-to-no need for loose change. If a double-decker bus were to crash into me, to die on Balham High Road would be a heavenly way to go, and with a dedicated bus route between Tooting Bec and Clapham South, it really is that simple.