The Working Horse Trust are holding their first Open Days for 2008 on Easter Sunday and Monday, 23 and 24 March. There are Shires, Suffolks and Ardennes to see being groomed, harnessed and working. Talks and demonstrations over both days and the chance to 'have-a-go' yourself with the horses. Open 11:00 - 17:00

There are free wagon rides, a secondhand book stall, a bric-a-brac stall, and the yummiest home-made cakes ever!

Car Parking is free. Dogs are welcome on a  lead. Adults £3, Children £2, WHT Members and under 5s free. 

Address is Forge Wood Farm, Eridge Green, near Tunbridge Wells TN3 9JA (the farm is off Sham Farm and will be signposted from the A26 at Eridge Green).

Heavy horses

For further information please contact: Jo Ambrose, Chairman or Anne Reddick, Farm Manager on 01892 750 105

Background Information of the Trust

The Working Horse Trust is the only charity of its kind in this country.  It was formed to help preserve and promote the UK’s traditional breeds of heavy horse – the populations of which had become decimated by the 1960s.  Despite the best efforts of the breed societies and inpidual enthusiasts, the Shire, the Clydesdale and the Suffolk horse in particular are respectively ‘at risk’, ‘vulnerable’ and ‘endangered’ (as classified by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust).  The Shire Horse Society has recently issued warnings about the future of the breed, as the number of breeding mares has declined by one third over the last eight years.  News from the Suffolk Horse Society is not good either with just over 360 Suffolks currently registered, and just 38 foals born last year. 

The Working Horse Trust launched the Eridge Heavy Horse Show in 2005, not only to provide a lovely day out but also to help achieve its aim of bringing the plight of heavy horses to a wider public.  Last year’s event was very successful, with c. 3,000 visitors, and the Trustees hope that it will grow to become a major fundraising exercise for the Trust, which relies entirely on its own initiative to raise sufficient funds to care for its horses and develop its base at Forge Wood Farm.  Its long-term plan is to open a visitor and education centre at Eridge.

The Trust is pragmatic enough to know that there is no ‘harking back to a bygone era’ and that a new generation of owners and breeders needs good reasons to include heavy horses in their stables.  There is still work available for heavy horses, particularly in environmentally sensitive areas small-scale agriculture and in forestry.  They are still very popular for weddings, funerals, carnivals and farm-park attractions and there is also the thrill of showing and taking part in Heavy Horse Shows and Ploughing Matches, but it is in their leisure use that there is growing interest – and this will be amply demonstrated at the Show by members of the British Heavy Horse Driving Trials Club.  Driving trials involve dressage, ridden work, a cross-country marathon, an obstacle course and cone driving.  It’s an exciting sport and regular participation could result in inclusion in the British Team that takes part in the Route du Poisson in France every other year (next one in 2008)  The ‘Fish Race’ is a unique relay race that re-enacts the traditional  mode of transporting fresh fish from the French coast to the markets of Paris.  It is a major event in France but over here we have our own New Forest Relay race (next one in 2009) which, though much smaller, is a terrific showcase for the strength, durability and flexibility of our much loved heavies.