Episodes

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01Wild Horses2018031220180613 (R4)

Clare Balding meets five horse types to reveal the changing bond between human and animal.

Clare Balding travels to Hothfield Heathlands in Kent to meet a herd of Konik Ponies and discover the extraordinary story of the domestication of wild horses in Europe.

Horse historian Susanna Forrest explains how European wild horses of the Tarpan and Taki type developed ,and disappeared. First they were killed for food. Then they were used for labour and transport, eventually facing extinction in the 19th century.

The Konik, the Tarpan's closest relative, were genetically re- created by scientists in Poland. They were an essential part of a bizarre third reich experiment to recreate an ancient Aryan horse. Now they perform an invaluable role in managing some of the few areas of heath land that remain in the UK. Increasingly, they are being recognised as one of the most useful tools in the environmentalist's kit to protect diminishing natural resources.

Aided by Ian Rickard from Kent Wildlife Trust, Clare discovers the Konik in the mists of the Kent heath land, hearing how one of the brightest hopes for Europe's environmental future is linked to one of the darkest periods of its past.

Research that emerged in February 2018 about the origins of our domestic horses will change how we look at the development of the animals.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

Clare Balding meets five horse types to reveal the changing bond between human and animal.

Clare Balding travels to Hothfield Heathlands in Kent to meet a herd of Konik Ponies and discover the extraordinary story of the domestication of wild horses in Europe.

Horse historian Susanna Forrest explains how European wild horses of the Tarpan and Taki type developed ,and disappeared. First they were killed for food. Then they were used for labour and transport, eventually facing extinction in the 19th century.

The Konik, the Tarpan's closest relative, were genetically re- created by scientists in Poland. They were an essential part of a bizarre third reich experiment to recreate an ancient Aryan horse. Now they perform an invaluable role in managing some of the few areas of heath land that remain in the UK. Increasingly, they are being recognised as one of the most useful tools in the environmentalist's kit to protect diminishing natural resources.

Aided by Ian Rickard from Kent Wildlife Trust, Clare discovers the Konik in the mists of the Kent heath land, hearing how one of the brightest hopes for Europe's environmental future is linked to one of the darkest periods of its past.

Research that emerged in February 2018 about the origins of our domestic horses will change how we look at the development of the animals.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

Clare Balding travels to Hothfield Heathlands in Kent to meet a herd of Konik Ponies and discover the extraordinary story of the domestication of wild horses in Europe.

Horse historian Susanna Forrest explains how European wild horses of the Tarpan and Taki type developed in prehistoric times. First they were killed for food, then they were used for labour and transport, eventually dying out through over-use in the 19th century.

The Konik, the Tarpan's closest relative, were genetically resurrected by scientists of the Third Reich and have now been imported via Poland to perform an invaluable role in managing some of the few areas of heath land that remain in the UK. Increasingly, they are being recognised as one of the most useful tools in the environmentalist's kit to protect diminishing natural resources.

Aided by Ian Rickard from Kent Wildlife Trust, Clare discovers the Konik in the mists of the Kent heath land, hearing how one of the brightest hopes for Europe's environmental future is rooted in one of the darkest periods of its past.

Research that emerged in February 2018 about the origins of our domestic horses will change how we look at the development of the animals.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

02Performers2018031320180620 (R4)

Clare Balding explores the history of the performing horse.

Clare Balding meets five horse types to reveal the changing bond between human and animal.

Clare Balding meets Prince. This beautiful black stallion is a lead equine actor, a major star of big and small screen. You might recognise him as Wonderwoman's mount, from The Crown, or as Jon Snow's steed from Game of Thrones.

Prince has also helped teach many a Hollywood A-lister to feel at home in his saddle, as Camilla Naprous, trainer and stunt rider explains. Clare also watches another star go through his paces - Doctor is one of the Lloyd's bank horses.

Whether in Olympics dressage, film and TV or live theatre, performing horses are big business and have been for centuries. But what is the allure of equine performance and where does the history of the performing horse begin?

Clare meets historian Lucy Worsley in Kensington Palace to explore how the moves on the riding school and film set can be traced back to medieval battlegrounds and the demonstration of regal power in the 17th century. For royal Europeans, ménage or horse dancing could be the secret to retaining your crown and your kingdom.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

Clare Balding explores the history of the performing horse.

Clare Balding meets five horse types to reveal the changing bond between human and animal.

Clare Balding meets Prince. This beautiful black stallion is a lead equine actor, a major star of big and small screen. You might recognise him as Wonderwoman's mount, from The Crown, or as Jon Snow's steed from Game of Thrones.

Prince has also helped teach many a Hollywood A-lister to feel at home in his saddle, as Camilla Naprous, trainer and stunt rider explains. Clare also watches another star go through his paces - Doctor is one of the Lloyd's bank horses.

Whether in Olympics dressage, film and TV or live theatre, performing horses are big business and have been for centuries. But what is the allure of equine performance and where does the history of the performing horse begin?

Clare meets historian Lucy Worsley in Kensington Palace to explore how the moves on the riding school and film set can be traced back to medieval battlegrounds and the demonstration of regal power in the 17th century. For royal Europeans, ménage or horse dancing could be the secret to retaining your crown and your kingdom.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

03Warhorses2018031420180627 (R4)

Clare Balding on the past, present and future of the military horse.

Clare Balding meets five horse types to reveal the changing bond between human and animal.

Clare Balding visits the King's Troop at their Woolwich Barracks. She meets the army horses of 2018 and watches five new recruits being put through their somewhat painful basic training to prepare for Trooping the Colour, state funerals, parades and spectacle.

Equine instructor Martin Dennis tells Clare about the training undergone by horses like Jeff to face the challenges of a military horse - it's no longer about bombs and guns, but potentially hostile crowds, like those at Margret Thatcher's funeral. In the barracks, Clare discusses with Captain Gregory Flynn the future of the horse in a modern British Army.

"A horse, a horse, my Kingdom for a horse!" The oft quoted line from Shakespeare's Richard III sums up perfectly the importance of horses to the success or failure of wars until the late-20th century. From the Mogul campaigns on the Central European Steppes to the Second World War, military experts like Professor Phillip Sabin from Kings College London have argued that wars have been won and lost by horse power.

Clare visits Professor Sabin to discuss the extraordinary role that horses have played, and continue to play, in international warfare. More horses were involved in World War Two than the First World War, they were vital to the Korean War and the British Army used horses in Afghanistan until 2001.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

Clare Balding on the past, present and future of the military horse.

Clare Balding meets five horse types to reveal the changing bond between human and animal.

Clare Balding visits the King's Troop at their Woolwich Barracks. She meets the army horses of 2018 and watches five new recruits being put through their somewhat painful basic training to prepare for Trooping the Colour, state funerals, parades and spectacle.

Equine instructor Martin Dennis tells Clare about the training undergone by horses like Jeff to face the challenges of a military horse - it's no longer about bombs and guns, but potentially hostile crowds, like those at Margret Thatcher's funeral. In the barracks, Clare discusses with Captain Gregory Flynn the future of the horse in a modern British Army.

"A horse, a horse, my Kingdom for a horse!" The oft quoted line from Shakespeare's Richard III sums up perfectly the importance of horses to the success or failure of wars until the late-20th century. From the Mogul campaigns on the Central European Steppes to the Second World War, military experts like Professor Phillip Sabin from Kings College London have argued that wars have been won and lost by horse power.

Clare visits Professor Sabin to discuss the extraordinary role that horses have played, and continue to play, in international warfare. More horses were involved in World War Two than the First World War, they were vital to the Korean War and the British Army used horses in Afghanistan until 2001.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

04Racehorses2018031520180712 (R4)

Clare Balding discovers the secrets of the thoroughbred race horse.

Clare Balding meets five horse types to reveal the changing bond between human and animal.

Spies, bribes and poison. Horse racing has a long and varied history full of colourful characters, politics, scandal and fancy hats. Thoroughbred race horses can all be traced back to three original blood lines. Their descendants are at the centre of a sport and industry worth billions of pounds yet have, for centuries, been shrouded in mystery. What makes the perfect racehorse? Genes, training, jockeys?

As a former jockey from a horse racing family, Clare Balding is fascinated by thoroughbreds. She heads to Newmarket to meet a newborn racehorse foal at Stanley House Stud. Hopes are resting on this four day-old that she will follow in her parents' purebred hoofsteps. Clare discusses her provenance, and the strict rules and specific techniques of thoroughbred breeding, with stud groom Marco Palozzi. In the paddock, she also meets champion Ouija Board and some of her many offspring.

Racing started as a training exercise to swell the ranks of the King's cavalry, developing as a gentleman's contest. Scandalous from the start, it was one of the earliest regulated sports. At the Museum of Horseracing and Sporting Art, Chris Garibaldi shows Clare intriguing artefacts from racing history. These include quasi-religious relics made of the hooves and hides of former winners. Champions of the track were also preserved as ashtrays and book binding.

Outside racing, sophisticated genetic breeding techniques are rapidly becoming the norm. Will the same happen inside the sport? Clare visits the renowned Newmarket Equine Hospital where director David Dugdale and surgeon Ian Wright discuss what veterinary science promises for racehorses of the future.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

Clare Balding discovers the secrets of the thoroughbred race horse.

Clare Balding meets five horse types to reveal the changing bond between human and animal.

Spies, bribes and poison. Horse racing has a long and varied history full of colourful characters, politics, scandal and fancy hats. Thoroughbred race horses can all be traced back to three original blood lines. Their descendants are at the centre of a sport and industry worth billions of pounds yet have, for centuries, been shrouded in mystery. What makes the perfect racehorse? Genes, training, jockeys?

As a former jockey from a horse racing family, Clare Balding is fascinated by thoroughbreds. She heads to Newmarket to meet a newborn racehorse foal at Stanley House Stud. Hopes are resting on this four day-old that she will follow in her parents' purebred hoofsteps. Clare discusses her provenance, and the strict rules and specific techniques of thoroughbred breeding, with stud groom Marco Palozzi. In the paddock, she also meets champion Ouija Board and some of her many offspring.

Racing started as a training exercise to swell the ranks of the King's cavalry, developing as a gentleman's contest. Scandalous from the start, it was one of the earliest regulated sports. At the Museum of Horseracing and Sporting Art, Chris Garibaldi shows Clare intriguing artefacts from racing history. These include quasi-religious relics made of the hooves and hides of former winners. Champions of the track were also preserved as ashtrays and book binding.

Outside racing, sophisticated genetic breeding techniques are rapidly becoming the norm. Will the same happen inside the sport? Clare visits the renowned Newmarket Equine Hospital where director David Dugdale and surgeon Ian Wright discuss what veterinary science promises for racehorses of the future.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

04Racehorses2018031520180712 (R4)

Clare Balding discovers the secrets of the thoroughbred race horse.

Clare Balding meets five horse types to reveal the changing bond between human and animal.

Spies, bribes and poison. Horse racing has a long and varied history full of colourful characters, politics, scandal and fancy hats. Thoroughbred race horses can all be traced back to three original blood lines. Their descendants are at the centre of a sport and industry worth billions of pounds yet have, for centuries, been shrouded in mystery. What makes the perfect racehorse? Genes, training, jockeys?

As a former jockey from a horse racing family, Clare Balding is fascinated by thoroughbreds. She heads to Newmarket to meet a newborn racehorse foal at Stanley House Stud. Hopes are resting on this four day-old that she will follow in her parents' purebred hoofsteps. Clare discusses her provenance, and the strict rules and specific techniques of thoroughbred breeding, with stud groom Marco Palozzi. In the paddock, she also meets champion Ouija Board and some of her many offspring.

Racing started as a training exercise to swell the ranks of the King's cavalry, developing as a gentleman's contest. Scandalous from the start, it was one of the earliest regulated sports. At the Museum of Horseracing and Sporting Art, Chris Garibaldi shows Clare intriguing artefacts from racing history. These include quasi-religious relics made of the hooves and hides of former winners. Champions of the track were also preserved as ashtrays and book binding.

Outside racing, sophisticated genetic breeding techniques are rapidly becoming the norm. Will the same happen inside the sport? Clare visits the renowned Newmarket Equine Hospital where director David Dugdale and surgeon Ian Wright discuss what veterinary science promises for racehorses of the future.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

05Healing Horses20180316

Clare Balding discovers how horses are helping with mental, physical and social problems.

Clare Balding meets five horse types to reveal the changing bond between human and animal.

Clare Balding visits contrasting stables in Brixton and Edgware, North London to see how horses are being used to help people with mental and physical health problems. Can equine therapy offer hope to young people affected by gang violence and addiction?

The Ebony Horse club in Brixton, under the railway arches and tower blocks of in Coldharbour Lane, is located in one of the most socially challenged and economically deprived areas of London. Each day the horses here are ridden by local young people and the impact the stables has had on these children and the area is dramatic. These are not the pony club member stereotypes many envisage. They also work with those with specific problems - ex gang members, addicts, children with learning difficulties. Ebony offers an alternative to the lives they may have experienced. This connection with horses has transformed many lives.

In High Barnet, Clare visits Dr Jemma Hockley, founder of Strength and Learning Through Horses. A qualified clinical psychologist, Jemma uses equine therapy to help young people with a variety of mental health and social problems. Jemma doesn't teach her clients to ride, but helps them learn by contact with the horses on the ground. She has seen tremendous results, especially in young, socially disenfranchised young men. She has also taken horses into prisons and is about to begin a partnership with Help for Heroes, to help military veterans with injuries and PTSD. Clare meets clients and therapists and sees young people learning with horses at first hand.

Could horses, as Dr Jemma Hockley believes, help humans who have failed to help each other?

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

Clare Balding discovers how horses are being used to help people with mental and physical health problems, as well as those affected by gang violence and addiction.

The Ebony Pony Club is as far away from the traditional pony club image as you can get. Under the railway arches and tower blocks of Brixton, it is located in one of the most socially challenged and economically deprived areas of London. Each day, the horses here are ridden by local young people and the impact of the stables can be dramatic. The club also works with former gang members, addicts and children with learning difficulties. Ebony offers an alternative to the lives they may have experienced.

Clare also talks to Gemma Hockley of Strength in Horses, which uses qualified Clinical Psychologists alongside trained horse professionals to offer Equine Assisted Psychotherapy to vulnerable people.

Long term studies and therapy programmes in Sweden and the USA support claims that equine therapy can be powerful in all kinds of settings. Archaeological evidence in cave paintings and artefacts bear out the length and depth of the relationship between humans and horses.

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

05Healing Horses2018031620180719 (R4)

Clare Balding discovers how horses are helping with mental, physical and social problems.

Clare Balding meets five horse types to reveal the changing bond between human and animal.

Clare Balding visits contrasting stables in Brixton and Edgware, North London to see how horses are being used to help people with mental and physical health problems. Can equine therapy offer hope to young people affected by gang violence and addiction?

The Ebony Horse club in Brixton, under the railway arches and tower blocks of in Coldharbour Lane, is located in one of the most socially challenged and economically deprived areas of London. Each day the horses here are ridden by local young people and the impact the stables has had on these children and the area is dramatic. These are not the pony club member stereotypes many envisage. They also work with those with specific problems - ex gang members, addicts, children with learning difficulties. Ebony offers an alternative to the lives they may have experienced. This connection with horses has transformed many lives.

In High Barnet, Clare visits Dr Jemma Hockley, founder of Strength and Learning Through Horses. A qualified clinical psychologist, Jemma uses equine therapy to help young people with a variety of mental health and social problems. Jemma doesn't teach her clients to ride, but helps them learn by contact with the horses on the ground. She has seen tremendous results, especially in young, socially disenfranchised young men. She has also taken horses into prisons and is about to begin a partnership with Help for Heroes, to help military veterans with injuries and PTSD. Clare meets clients and therapists and sees young people learning with horses at first hand.

Could horses, as Dr Jemma Hockley believes, help humans who have failed to help each other?

Producer: Lucy Dichmont
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.