This program came to my attention as two people I know are involved. Ben Atkinson and Andy Deane.
Ben Atkinson is a horse trainer and stunt rider, part of a family business with his father; Atkinson Action Horses. He is horse-master on the BBC program Poldark and stunt double for Aiden Turner, he also taught Aiden to ride.
Andy works at Royal Armouries in Leeds as part of the Education Department. He is a Jouster of over 20 years experience.
Lucy Worsley is Curator at the Tower of London, or more accurately she is the Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces. For part of this program she goes back to where she started as a Junior Curator, Bolsover Castle.
William Cavendish, First Duke of Newcastle, was a close friend of Charles I of England. Cavendish trained his horses in the Manege, a forerunner of dressage.
Ben Atkinson has been riding since he was a toddler, I’ve been told he could ride before he could walk. Ben is one of the horsemen that perform Cavendish’s horse skills at Bolsover Castle. In this program he teaches Lucy Worsley to ride, she had previously only been in the saddle once before, and perform Dressage, or as it was called when first created Manege. Lucy is trained on Almonzor, one of Ben’s favourite horses. You can see a clip below from YouTube.
Ben talks her through the moves… I’m going to suggest there was much more training going on than we see. And I couldn’t help but laugh when she said under her breath that Ben was bossy. Watching Almonzor doing his best to work out what a complete novice wanted him to do was quite charming.
At Harley Gallery in Nottinghamshire Ben and Lucy look at the saddle of William Cavendish that would hold a rider in exactly the best position for Manege. Ben explained the essential matter of posture to give the horse accurate instruction.
Lucy also looks briefly at military aspects of horsmanship and this takes her to the Royal Armouries in Leeds. Andy Deane Helps Lucy in to a suit of armour. There is a brief shot of someone riding at the quintain… I’m thinking that was Andy, not Lucy. The video below may not work outside the UK.
The program shows how rider and horse cooperate with each other. Trust is essential. You can see how Ben’s horses respond so willingly to him. In the first scene we see Ben in you can see the four year-old son of Almonzor, Malik, show just how relaxed he is following what Ben asks him to do. Similarly, as I said earlier, you can see Almonzor trying to understand what Lucy intends him to do.
Ben’s instruction is clear and Lucy remarks at one point that he treats her like a horse. I’ve spoken to Ben about how he trains riders… He is happier training the horses.
Andy is used to performing to educate and entertain. So explaining the armour to Lucy as he straps her in to it is an easy matter for him.
The full program is an hour long and goes in to greater detail than I have discussed here. The program will be repeated on BBC 4 at 03:00 on Friday 18th September. You can otherwise see it on BBC iPlayer. I am not aware of any broadcasts outside the UK.
You can see Andy Dean regularly at Royal Armouries.
Ben is currently filming Season 2 of Poldark in Cornwall but through the year you can see him around the country, indeed around the world.
You may be able to see Ben and Andy at the Easter Joust at Royal Armouries in 2016.