Blog, Training

Educating Archie

Alex Bonnell and Archie

At the beginning of 2018, Kent-based Alex Bonnell decided she needed to find a young horse to following in the huge hoof prints of her wonderful horse, Bailey. A trip to Somerset and ‘love at first sight’ led to the arrival of a four-year-old part Shire called Archie. This is the first instalment of ‘Educating Archie’ and we will keep you updated as his education progresses.

“Firstly, let me introduce myself. I am an amateur rider in my early 50s and run a small livery yard in Kent. I used to ride as a child but drifted away from horses when school work and eventually a full time working life got in the way. My love for horses remained however and in the mid 90’s I saw an advert for helpers at a local Riding for the Disabled group so I signed up to help out. I went along weekly and eventually became a group instructor and it was during this time that my desire to ride was rekindled.

I started loaning a horse in the holidays and then in 2002 took the plunge and bought my first horse, Bailey, a four-year-old Irish draught x TB gelding who was straight off the hunting field. We had many adventures over the years from showing to beach rides and horsey holidays, but I always knew that although I could ride I needed to ride better to improve his education and I started having regular lessons with a local instructor. I began doing some showing and local dressage and before long had been bitten by the training bug and announced whilst still at Prelim an ambition to wear a tailcoat in the arena! Fast forward through many years of training and having learnt flying changes in his late teens it seems that Bailey will finally help me realise my dreams as we plan to ride an advanced test this summer.

Alex Bonnell
Alex and Bailey. Pic by LRG Photography

However, as Bailey became more educated and moved up the scales of training, he has of course grown older and so I started to think about a younger horse to follow in his stead. I commenced a search of the classifieds and in March 2018 I found a horse that just seemed to tick all the boxes and made the long journey to Somerset to try him out. I think I fell in love the moment I got on and a week later Archie flew through his vetting and travelled to his new home in Kent. He is a very green gangly, not quite five-year-old Shire x Tb gelding. His dam is full Shire and his sire is a lovely stamp of TB called Bollin Eric. He was born and raised on the stud where his owner backed him and spent the winter hunting.

Alex Bonnell
Alex riding a young Archie at home, just after he arrived.

I hope you will enjoy following our progress as we start the process of making Archie (Ashes Sir Archie to give him his full title) into a great all-rounder and as I learn how to teach him to enable us to move up the ranks in dressage. I’m sure we will have a lot of fun along the way as we will be hacking, going to the downs and taking part in riding club clinics over poles and on the flat. I train with Jenny Barry and list 1 judge Leanne Wall as well as Justine Sole when she comes to Kent from Gloucestershire. I have also travelled with Bailey to Gloucestershire for the last five years to train with Adam Kemp and the team at AM Dressage in the summer months and hope to take Archie along in August. As chairman of Limpsfield Riding Club helping people realise that training the horse on the flat correctly can enhance the enjoyment of hacking and help keep your horses muscled and healthy has long been my campaign and I hope that you will enjoy following our journey and who knows become inspired as well.”

You can follow Archie’s progress on Facebook at

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