Last week, we welcomed a new addition to the Willowbrook family - Bartie. Bartie is a cob horse, a native type to the UK and therefore hardy for our English weathers! This is in keeping with the ethos of the farm, minimising imports from further afield and keeping animals in their desired natural habitat. Cobs are an exceptionally calm and well-tempered breed, ideal for older riders and young children. As mum and dad are getting on in their years, and I now have a young niece and nephew on the farm, it was important to have a safe horse for them to enjoy (and I'm not fussed about which horse I ride - I love them all!)
We got Bartie from a local breeder in Leicestershire. Dad and I picked her up ourselves, an adventure I will never forget, as we have never transported a 7 month old horse before, and the procedure is totally different to an adult horse! Youngsters get much more frightened with travel, and therefore need to travel loose (no ropes attached, so they feel calm). She was really brave and handled the journey well. On the farm, she settled in very quickly and soon became besties with our other pony Gracie! As for her namesake; Bartie is a shortening of Bartholomew Steer. If you ever come across a plaquard of Hampton Gay's history when visiting us, you'll find a review of the Lords that have owned this land over time. What is not mentioned on the plaquard is the Oxfordshire Rising of 1596, which took place as a result of the Enclosure's Act coupled with poor harvest and increased poverty. Bartholomew Steer, a carpenter and a few others from the village decided to protest the Enclosure's Act after their county Lord turned their back on them. They organised to meet on Enslow Hill (the hill just behind Willowbrook Farm) to plan their uprising, but were captured and taken to prison. The treatment they received was so harsh, Bartholomew and one other man died in prison due to the torture methods and conditions. We are absolutely fascinated by the history of the farm and the surrounding area, and will have to do a separate blog post detailing it! We're looking forward to when our open days are running again so you can come and meet Bartie. She's a lovely horse and we hope she has a wonderful time here at the farm.