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Victor Dartnall’s horses banned from Woolacombe beach after 18 years

By e_glanfield  |  Posted: January 24, 2013

  • Victor Dartnall's horses cantering along Woolacombe Beach

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A professional racehorse trainer claims he can no longer train his horses on Woolacombe Beach after being threatened with legal action.

Mr Dartnall, whose stables are situated at Higher Shutscombe, near Barnstaple, has exercised his horses along the beach regularly since 1995.

But he says on Tuesday he was told by the beach’s owners, Parkins Estate, that he would have a court injunction served against him should he take horses to the beach again.

Mr Dartnall said: “Woolacombe Bay is a huge beach with an enormous amount of space. It’s three miles long and with a great depth to it too. In the winter, particularly during the week, it’s virtually empty with just a handful of walkers and a few dogs.

“It’s wonderful for the horses to go to the beach. They think it’s marvellous and it really cheers them up. And the locals have always loved us going there too. They’ll come up and take a real interest in the horses.

“However, on Tuesday, we were told we are no longer welcome to take our horses there, and if we did so again we would have a court injunction served against us.

“It’s such a shame because the horses really love it. We’ve been going since 1995 and over the years more and more restrictions have gradually been imposed but now the couple who own it say we can’t go there anymore.

“On Tuesday there were only 11 people and four dogs on the whole of the three mile stretch of the beach. It is a huge beach, it’s not like we take up much room. People enjoy seeing the horses. It seems odd they can deny us this.”

Mr Dartnall, who employs around 14 people at his stables, said he is disappointed with the decision especially being a key local employer.

He said: “I feel this is quite a drastic action to take against a key local employer in North Devon trying, like the lease holders, to make a living and continue employing local people during the on-going downturn in the economic climate.

“We’ve been going there since 1995, but the current leaseholders clearly don’t like horses and they don’t want us there.

“There are other beaches we can go to in North Devon, but the beauty of Woolacombe is the amount of space, and the fact you can canter for long stretches without interfering with anyone else who might be walking there.”

In previous years, the beach has been used by the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

The Journal has been attempting to contact Parkin Estates for their comment but they have so far been unreachable. A statement from them will be published here as soon as they are available to provide comment.

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  • DownUnderDave  |  January 26 2013, 5:56AM

    Do Parkin Estates really own all of beach from Woolacombe to Putsborough? Does that include right down to the low tide mark? That's a whole lot of real estate...even if it does get flooded twice daily. I always thought Councils had authority over areas such as a beach. I live and learn. What a bunch of miseries are Parkin Estates....can't wait to see their reasons for banning horses on the sands. Odds on it's a politically correct one! David Griffiths, Lithgow, NSW Australia.

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  • Ianparkhouse  |  January 26 2013, 12:24AM

    People have been riding their horses on that beach for centuries. To the people that "own" Woolacombe, get a grip

    |   5
  • Sue200  |  January 25 2013, 8:10AM

    How sad that locals won't be treated to this wonderful sight. What harm are they doing?

    |   10
  • accom  |  January 25 2013, 7:44AM

    The leaseholders are clearly scum. How pathetic can you get - threatening legal action for taking horses on an enormous beach. I love seeing the horses there galloping along fast, there are not many places a horse can do that apart from on a racetrack where they are smacked by the riders and subject to inhumanely high fences. This is horse riding as it should be - such a shame that these busybodies have stopped it. Absolutely pathetic.

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