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Chapter 2

Captain Chris Leyland who was noted for his sartorial elegance had two horses, that were used at the school and were always as well turned out as their owner. Desperation, a weight carrying, bay 16.2hh blood horse, better known to all as "Despot", and Marron Glace

Marron Glace was a highly schooled, chestnut, thoroughbred gelding. A wonderful ride and a favourite with any advanced rider. He was used as a demonstration horse for the equitation pupils to demonstrate "The value of dressage in the hunting field". These hilarious demonstrations always packed the gallery of the indoor school at Porlockford.
The indoor school at Porlockford and the two indoor schools at the Tanyard were at that time very rare, and about the only indoor schools in the country.

Captain Chris Leyland had been in the Metropolitan Police during the war. Despot had been his police horse, hunter and point-to-point horse, winning several races. Perhaps because of this, Despot developed a great character of his own.
Despot was never clipped, as he was extremely sensitive and had to be treated with great respect. He would put on an act of great ferocity in his box, but always made sure that no-one was near enough to get hurt. He was known to enjoy morning stables most of all when he would literally chase whoever was looking after him out of his box and then stand in the doorway laughing at them.

Despot overseeing the yard work!

Despots’ moment of SHEER DESPERATION
Sketch from Porlock Vale Riding School’s Guest book

One particular Monday morning Despot decided that he really had suffered a bit too much from a rider who had stuck his toe into the horses side one too many times whilst mounting. Being the character that he was, he waited until the rider was mounted and then went into reverse gear, through the gates of the yard and under the hay barn. Here, making sure that he had an audience, Despot found a nice soft spot and with a grunt of satisfaction he gently lay down with his rider!
One of Despot characteristics was his competence as a school master. This extended to his ability to tell the Instructor if the pupil rider was giving the wrong aids, when this happened he would kick the boards at the side of the school!

(C) Jacqueline Peck 2000

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