Hidden within the vast landscapes of Richmond Park is Operation Centaur, a community that enables its lucky members to experience the get up close and personal with working Shire horses. Our girl Hannah Tan-Gillies got the experience of a lifetime, embarking on a romantic carriage ride with Operation Centaur, getting a rarefied opportunity to see a side of Richmond Park not a lot of people get the chance to see.
Operation Centaur is a champion of the conservation of Shire Horses, whose numbers have been dwindling due to the modernisation of land management and agriculture in the UK.
Working horses play an important role in conservation and can help control bracken in sensitive acid grasslands. Habitats also benefit greatly from re-introducing the less intrusive land management practices that working horses provide. Not to mention, they also offer low noise disturbance, lower soil compaction and minimal impact to wildlife – and the horses seem to love it too.
This winter, Operation Centaur is offering traditional carriage rides drawn by its majestic Shire horses. The Park Brake carriages can comfortably seat six people and will be pulled by handsome working horses. You begin the ride with a cup of sloe gin, as you welcome the crisp autumn air, and watch the deer in their natural habitats in Richmond Park.
In the colder months, Operation Centaur also provides warm wool blankets so you can enough the magical experience comfortably. The Shire Horses, part of the last herd of working Shires in London, pull the carriage gently off the beaten track at Richmond Park, revealing ethereal landscapes, amidst the gentle sound of hooves. It is truly an experience that you won’t soon forget.
So, whether you are looking for a magical winter date idea or looking for the most unforgettable gift for your parents, give the lovely guys at Operation Centaur a call, and maybe you can make some fabulous horse friends too.
Winter Rides at Operation Centaur are available from November – January £450 (+ booking fee) for carriage of 6. For more information visit https://www.operationcentaur.com/