Ben Atkinson is a horse rider and trainer, part of Atkinsons Action Horses with his father, Mark, and sister, Lucy. They have around 65 horses and I think around 20 riders to call on.
I first saw Ben in Easter 2013 at Royal Armouries, after a few years away (figuratively) I had returned to see a Tournament and found that there was even more to the show than when I used to go regularly. The extra part was of course Atkinson Action Horses (AAH).
AAH were an instant hit with me, later with my son Saul and his fiance and Ellis.
I’ve continued to watch AAH at Royal Armouries and keep an eye on what they are doing. Recently Ben, the horses and humans of AAH have been in BBC’s Poldark on Sundays, this article coincides with the last episode of Poldark. The series has been renewed, so more horse action to see one hopes. Ben is the stunt douse for Aidan Turner, as Rodss Poldark as the hero of the tale.
Here Ben is seen going through some of the offensive and defensive moves that horses use in combat. Photos courtesy of Silvana Equus. You can see more images of Ben, the Easter Joust and much more on the FB Page and website Silvana Equus
Sonidor, on the left, displayed defensive moves and Ocle, on the right, the offensive moves.
These are skills that Ben often displays at Bolsover Castle, once the home of the Cavendish family. Many of the moves that Ben uses were created by William Cavendish. This weekend, 25th and 26th April 2014, the team were at Bolsover with a Medieval show, sadly I couldn’t make it.
What strikes me when talking to Ben when I do see him is his true love for what he does. His understanding of the horses goes beyond that of just a horseman. It is clear that each horse is an individual to him and that their experiences are as important to him as anything.
Safety of the horse is always important, indeed injury to the rider is more likely than injury to a horse. A rider will leave the saddle rather than put the horse in peril. The surface the horse is performing on is always important, the Tiltyard, or Arena as it is sometimes called, at Royal Armouries is a good mix of safety for horse and rider. Rearing can be a strain on the hind legs obviously and softer ground means greater height of rear with improved safety.
The safety on set is also important for horses when filming for TV and Film. Access to water is so very important for example. Also of course there is the stunt double. No, I’m not referring to Ben being the stunt double of Aidan but Jonny Wilkinson the equine stunt double for Seamus who portrays Ross’ horse in close ups. Aidan received training at the Atkinson farm for this role and became very familiar to Seamus, building trust and understanding between horse and rider increases the experience for both.
Seamus has been seen a lot in Poldark and you can read more in an article in the Daily Mail, not a paper I’d usually read but my son bought one and asked Ben and his dad Mark to autograph the article for him. It is a good article giving good insight.
Training horses and riders is a key skill for a team like AAH and Ben is clearly very skilled with this. He doesn’t just train his own horses, at times when working in foreign countries he has to train rookie horses from scratch and I’ve been amazed by how quickly he gets results.
You can see several videos of Ben training his and other horses on his Facebook Page, his professional website and his You Tube channel. Please pay a visit to those links and click ‘Like’ or ‘Subscribe’ as appropriate to show your respect for the entertainment Ben and the others of AAH bring you.
You can also read more about Ben and AAH by searching for Atkinson Action Horses or Jousting on this blog.