Bowler Hill Farm

Bowler Hill Farm Practitioners of Traditional Carriage Driving, Foxhunting and breeders of top quality Cleveland Bay horses.

Operating as usual

Hate it when this happens 😳

Hate it when this happens 😳

Questa foto è fantastica ✈️
#CorazonCombo e #PekkaKorpi


Tidying up 15 years of scrub! It’s a small start😬

Busy weekend at Bowler Hill in this fine Spring weather  wonderful ride with Gilbert and his owner( btw Gilly put in a c...

Busy weekend at Bowler Hill in this fine Spring weather wonderful ride with Gilbert and his owner( btw Gilly put in a couple of bucks just to let us know he’s still got it despite his rather advanced age😉) Lesson with the best mini ever, Muffin and her owner. Shakespeare had his first girlfriend arrive today and she’s gorgeous ❤️as well as Sparks compliant ... and the grass is green, the wild flowers and trees are giving off amazing scents and the sun is shining!

Finally got the hunters ( and prospects) out to grass! But all those idiots were worried about ( I guess after being tra...

Finally got the hunters ( and prospects) out to grass! But all those idiots were worried about ( I guess after being traumatized by Muffin the mini earlier) were the dairy heifers a field over🤦🏼‍♀️

Erica Picking and Final Edition aka Big Ed (full brother to "Little Carter") obviously enjoying their trip around the OC...
Optimum Time over Fences - MiddleburgPhoto

Erica Picking and Final Edition aka Big Ed (full brother to "Little Carter") obviously enjoying their trip around the OCH pairs course. Don't judge Ericas position! This isn't the show ring and Ed has his head! Just pretend YOU'RE sitting on 17hh with 1600# of torque at speed!!

Optimum Time

The Cleveland Bays showed their worth despite the first fence that got everyone except those that event. Go Final Editio...

The Cleveland Bays showed their worth despite the first fence that got everyone except those that event. Go Final Edition, aka Big Ed and Erica Picking and Fiesta and Abby Curran. Ed was bred and raised at Bowler hill by Bayswater. Fiesta was purchased by me from Hunter Wilson, sired by Richard Lionheart as a yearling and sold to the Curran family after he had hunted for 2 seasons

Interesting and true, had not considered the uneveness of body whorls, though I have to mark them when registering the B...

Interesting and true, had not considered the uneveness of body whorls, though I have to mark them when registering the Bays

Ancient horse cultures made much of the study of hair whorls and it’s something that’s gaining ground within today’s scientific community. Studies are showing that the old wive's tail—called Whorlology—is grounded in fact. We know now that the patterns of a horse's coat are formed within the womb and follow the neurological pathways that are developed in a growing fetus.

Those of you who pooh-pooh this notion can chew on that!

Those of us raised among old time horsemen were simply brought up with mystical tales of what to look for and what to avoid when it came to the patterns of the lay on any horse’s hair coat. I admit to looking for matching whorls on each side of the horse’s body, to the point of avoiding horses who are unevenly marked from side to side, particularly along the neck.

We were also taught that the profile of a horse's head, the shape and carriage of its ears and muzzle, will determine the degree to which a horse exhibits its personal quirks. I also pay attention to the mane fall for clues as to a horse's right or left 'handedness' when it comes to schooling.

Here, my gloved finger is pointing towards the spot where I search for my favourite single forehead whorl, when it comes to ease of trainability and uncomplications. Centred directly between the eyes, one clearly defined whorl almost always marks an honest horse with a minimum of surprises or complexities.

Generally, the higher the forehead whorl, the more sensitive the horse. I have found that of my horses, those few with unusually low face whorls are people-oriented to the extreme, almost like dogs.

Rockabilly sports a double whorl, 'the mark of two masters'. While such a horse or pony is absolutely 100% trainable, we know that he will never be the easiest one in the barn. Such horses are always listening to that other little voice inside their head. Those with double whorls stacked one atop the other, often fall under the heading of the lazy/sensitive horse; either sleeping or really riled up, often within the same five seconds.

While ALL horses rise to their best in 'feely', compassionate and educated hands, it is worth noting that double and triple-whorl horses will not tolerate the 'manhandling' that many more stoic single-whorl horses will. These horses seemingly need more mindfulness from us than average, requiring regular riding with one person who is determined, more suggestive than demanding and who is very clear about the rules.

I have found that multiple-whorled horses shine with a rider who knows how to take a joke, one who can smile and calmly continue on without fuss. Those of us who adore working with the more complex, quirky personalities in the equine world, get along like gangbusters with double-whorl horses.

Those among us who don't enjoy or endeavour to understand such horses, will often end up with a worried, unrideable mess.

Have known Jonathan since he was 3 or 4, the cream always rises to the top! Proud he is actually related (in a way) now🥰
Revamped Thomas barn completes 4-for-4 weekend

Have known Jonathan since he was 3 or 4, the cream always rises to the top! Proud he is actually related (in a way) now🥰

Jonathan Thomas isn't perfect. Just look at his NCAA bracket. Thomas was, however, perfect last weekend. His stable went 4 for 4, with three of them winning at Gulfstream (two Saturday, one Sunday) and the other on Saturday at Laurel Park in Maryland.


If anyone knew Bayswater, this was always something we suggested when riding him😂

Just a reminder😉

Just a reminder😉

This week's mystery breed is the Cleveland Bay from Yorkshire, England!
Did you know that this rare breed is not only England's oldest breed of horse, but also the only remaining purebred warmblood?
No one knows exactly how old the Cleveland Bay is, but the modern-day breed first came into being when the 'Chapmen' horses of Yorkshire were bred to Barb and Spanish stallions in the 17th century, creating a breed so versatile, so refined and so strong that it quickly became one of the most popular carriage horse breeds in Europe. Sadly, it wasn't long after this that the industrial age rendered carriage horses obsolete. The World Wars also took a huge toll on the Cleveland Bay, which was one of the most sought-after cavalry mounts thanks to its strength, bravery and sensible temperament.
Today, Cleveland Bay bloodlines can be found in most warmblood breeds, as well as a number of draught breeds! Part bred Cleveland Bays are immensely successful sport horses, and while purebred Cleveland Bays still number less than a thousand, they have a dedicated following in the UK, the US, Australia and beyond. Learn more about this ancient breed on the blog:
Image via Cleveland Bay Horse Society of Australasia.

A super fun, fan friendly thing to do!  The 100 year old grandstand and the beautiful setting brings one back to a simpl...
Shenandoah Downs Fall Harness Season to Increase in Length by Three Weeks | Virginia Horse Racing

A super fun, fan friendly thing to do! The 100 year old grandstand and the beautiful setting brings one back to a simpler time when horses were a part of life

Shenandoah Downs Fall Harness Season to Increase in Length by Three Weeks Virginia harness racing is poised to take another step forward this fall when Shenandoah Downs ushers in its seventh season of pari-mutuel harness racing September 16 and continues thru November 6, an increase of three weeks f...

Hold on to your hats folks!

Hold on to your hats folks!

ETA- These are prices from the York Co. Pa area. And the price per gallon of diesel listed is for bulk off road usage. It is not the price for ‘on road’ usage ( which is much higher)
From one of my hay suppliers. I think keeping things transparent between the supplier and consumer is paramount.

Are you as a boarder at a facility prepared for possible board increases? Are you as a boarder understanding in that the barn owner/ manager cannot absorb the increases handed to them to keep your horse fed?

I feel that these are real questions that boarders and barn owner/ manager need to have.

Hysterical but oh so true.!

Hysterical but oh so true.!

(Never want to) Own A Pony Experience Day

Here at Jamie Wright Equestrian we know that horses are an expensive business and therefore we have developed our 'own a pony experience day' for parents who want to put their children off ever wanting to going near a pony again.

Own a pony experience days are generally held in the depths of winter to try and ensure wet, cold and blustery weather. The day usually starts and ends in darkness and with any luck either miserably wet or freezing.

Meet and Greet.

Your child will be met at the yard gates by a grumpy and sour groom who passionately dislikes children if not all people in general. The groom has very low tolerance levels and will swear at every opportunity making it a very unsavoury work environment.

Meet your pony.

Your child’s pony for the day will have a similar temperament to its groom with the added bonus that it bites and kicks at every opportunity.

Stable management.

Your child will have the opportunity to wade half a mile through muddy tracks to turn out their pony (wellington boots with holes in will be provided), they will then have the chance to muck out its deep littered stable which has not been cleaned out since the last experience day.

Meet the professionals.

Having brought the pony back in from the muddy fields your child will find they are unable to ride as the pony has now got a missing shoe or is lame. They now get to experience what it is like to wait an hour or two in the rain for a vet or farrier to turn up in an emergency.


Your child will take lunch in a damp, mouldy caravan which has no heating, washing or toilet facilities. They will get to watch reruns of the dressage at this years Olympia while the grumpy groom constantly criticizes all the riders whilst muttering that it should have been her riding there had she not taken a job as a mothers ******* help earlier in her career.

The show experience.

Your child will get excited about going to a show and get to spend hours primping and polishing their pony and its tack. Then spent half an hour trying to load it on the lorry. They will then experience the utter disappointment of the lorry having a flat battery/tyre and not going to the show.

The equine shopping experience.

Your child will be taken to a local tack shop where they will spend all the money they have on a rug for the pony who is a compulsive rug ripper.

The human shopping experience.

By now your child will be smelling like a dead badger, covered in mud, hay and straw. Their final experience of the day is to go grocery shopping in the local Waitrose so they can experience the looks of disgust from all the ladies buying quinoa and avocados.

We hope that your child will be so discouraged by the day that they’ll want to spend their days hanging out at shopping malls or staying in to play on their Xbox or phones. The cost for the day is a mere £650 which might sound expensive but is around the cost of 1 months part livery, so just imagine your savings in the long run.


Despite our best efforts, some children will still want a pony. Unfortunately there is no cure for this sort of child so prepare yourselves for empty bank accounts and a lack of holidays.

Good for the next 4-1/2 hunts😎 Erica Picking

Good for the next 4-1/2 hunts😎 Erica Picking

"Little" Carters Run, strutting his stuff to lead second field to the hounds just before we broke down to a walk through...
OCH at Cromwells Run 2-19-22 - Joanne Maisano Photo

"Little" Carters Run, strutting his stuff to lead second field to the hounds just before we broke down to a walk through Chilly Bleak as to not upset fancy yearlings

equine photography, family and event photography, dog photography

Late for Church, a Bowler Hill homebred by Shakespeare, Erica Picking up.  She would have been leading the third field t...
OCH at Cromwells Run 2-19-22 - Joanne Maisano Photo

Late for Church, a Bowler Hill homebred by Shakespeare, Erica Picking up. She would have been leading the third field today, but there were no takers...all the die hards and some enthusiastic guests

equine photography, family and event photography, dog photography


Because many of my ‘finished’ Western horses are shown here on Keystone, working in traditional shanked bits, I’ve been asked to explain about them a little bit—with apologies for the bad pun.

Readers often want to know how I introduce these sorts of bits to my horses, including the when and, let’s be honest here, the why…

First of all, know that there has been a LOT of good riding going on with a horse BEFORE he is asked to carry any sort of shanked bit. He will have spent years working two-handed in a c**t bit, before he moves on.

This means much knowledge is first gained by the horse in either the snaffle or the traditional bosal, if not both, before he is deemed ready to graduate. Both types of head gear work on the principle of direct pressure from the rider’s hand to the horse’s face. In the first case, on the bars and tongue of the horse’s mouth and in the second, on the bridge of the nose and along the jaw.

My horse is ready to continue his bitted education with me only when he goes very well in the above bridles and when he fully understands the use of my seat, my legs and my hands. When I ‘feel’ anywhere on his body, he accepts and then ‘gives’ or absorbs the ask. He does not resist.

This last point is one in which too few of us pay attention. If we did, we would cause less discomfort to our horses. Softening into pressure is one of those conundrums that doesn’t seem to make any sense, until it finally does. It also has very little bearing on whether or not my horse is asked to go on an 'elastic contact' during his work. The elasticity of a correct contact is just that; otherwise, we are merely pulling our horse into position.

As an aside, not all bits need to be made with metal mouthpieces. While most of mine are of iron, I often drive in rubber-mouthed Liverpools, in the top or rough-cheek rein position. This a confidence-builder to horses and ponies who struggle with the notion of a positive, forward going contact in harness. This, indeed any English discipline, can be a challenge for Western-trained animals who have learned that a loose rein is the usual reward for a job well done. In learning to seek the contact more continuously, the giving nature of rubber can be a real help.

When we vote loudly for snaffles only, we are failing to take into account one vital thing. No matter the mouthpiece, whether it is a French link (otherwise known as a three-piece mouth), a straight bar, or a traditional single-jointed (nutcracker action) snaffle, the pressure we put upon the horse is borne solely by the mouth of the horse, through the bars, lips and tongue.

When we continue to teach our horse to accept a shanked bit (a curb type bit) we are now splitting the signal of his bit into three places: the mouth, the poll and the chin groove. A lot of people just don’t take this into account. What this means that we’re not ‘riding the mouth’ of the horse as much, not if we’re doing this right.

A curb bit needs a chin strap of some sort, adjusted at least two fingers’ width from the chin groove when the reins are slack, to work correctly. Otherwise, we’re just pulling on the horse without any signal. I always choose flat, soft leather and never chain against the sensitive chin groove, even on my English horses.

There is some mathematical reasoning in whether we will choose a bit with a 'ratio' of more or less lower shank to the amount of cheekpiece above the mouthpiece. A shank with closer to equal upper and lower ‘ratio’ has generally a milder action. There is a knowledge of physics, also, in how much ‘sweep’ or curve there is to the cheeks, as opposed to a straight cheek which demands a more prompt response in the horse.

Whether or not the cheeks are fastened solidly, or are loose-jawed with some give or swivel, also plays into how a bit feels to a horse, especially if he is to be doing a lot of turning in his work, as opposed to one who travels mainly in straight lines.

Ported bits can allow us to choose some relief for certain fleshy-tongued horses. We can also opt for a copper roller, the original ‘fidget spinner’ that gives a horse something to play with, to content himself with and to moisten the mouth. By carrying a bridle correctly—by hanging his head straight down from a relaxed poll—the horse activates the salivary glands in his throat. He no longer works with a stiff, set jaw or an uncomfortably dry mouth.

Finally, by teaching our horses to go with less rider interference, smaller signals and more feeling, we can further gymnasticize our horses by rounding them up and then, riding them freely forward on a loose rein. This gathering and stretching goes far to further build athleticism and mutual trust.

A few of the bits shown here on this old Garcia poster, are in fact, less ‘severe’ than a snaffle.

In my own experience, most horses go kindly in both the Salinas and Polo mouthpieces (#3 and #11). Some of them, those with higher ports and the actual spades, are for the hands of masters only. In the right hands and on the right horses they can make beautiful music. I will say here that not all horses have the past experiences, the type of mouth, nor the emotional demeanour to do so.

The 'spade bit hands and horses' should still be able to do the job in any other bit on this page, including the plain ring snaffle. This holds true in the traditional Western bridle horse and also, in the double bridle worn by the advanced Dressage horse.

It interests me that advancing our knowledge is so similar in horsemanship, no matter the discipline, or where in this world we might ride. Do I expect my horses to be able to work well in the snaffle, at all times through their lives? Yes. Do I insist that they work in snaffles, when there are probably other bits more comfortable to them? No.

I do not usually ride my horses bitless, though they can do so, if asked. It is simply a choice I have made, to investigate the mouths of each of my horses and to know their likes and dislikes. Rather than state our allegiance to certain bits or types of riding, I would wish that we would train ourselves to simply look at the horse: Is he going well, to the best of his ability? Is he happy and comfortable? Is the rider piloting him subtly? Or not? These should be the sole criteria that guide us.

I should also point out that those of us who wish to further our horses’ knowledge to include true neck reining, are pretty much honour-bound to use a shanked bit. This skill is probably best taught through the rawhide hackamore and then, the ‘two-rein’, whereby the horse carries both his bit along with a fine, underbridle bosal.

These stages of making a traditional Western bridle horse are well-documented elsewhere and anyone can easily find more written and video information online. They require of us to learn adeptness of feel and timing, all with a handful of reins, along with a fairly hefty monetary investment in the gear and a working knowledge in its fitting.

That said, horses have learned to steer, one-handed, in all sorts of bits for generations and will no doubt continue to do so. I can get caught up in purity and lose focus of practicality, if I’m not mindful. Those of us in the business of training and selling horses are probably better off keeping things simple.

I cannot reiterate too strongly that the sole abuse of a curb bit comes when the rider fails to educate himself and the horse to the point of understanding this thing called ‘feel’. Knowing how to soften into one another is key to all horsemanship, no matter our bits. To start the process, a rider must first possess an independent seat and legs, something to which not all riders are willing to dedicate themselves.

Then, we slowly aim to find and remove all traces of tension and resistance between the rider and the horse. How we go about this, in kindness and serenity, is one of the great joys and mysteries of advanced horsemanship.

People will argue this. To them, I can only say, we cannot know any more than we know… but pray, we remain open to learning.

The poster is © Garcia and J.M. Capriola Co., Elko, Nevada.


Carters Run
Marshall, VA

Opening Hours

Monday 7:30am - 5pm
Tuesday 7:30am - 5pm
Wednesday 7:30am - 5pm
Thursday 7:30am - 5pm
Friday 7:30am - 5pm
Saturday 7:30am - 5pm
Sunday 7:30am - 5pm


(540) 270-6157


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Comments In honor of Joaquin
Hunt mornings at Bowler Hill sure can be a pretty sight!
Hi, I was trying to get in touch with you about a driving horse. I'll send a PM as well, but I left a message on your phone with my number. Let me know if there's a better way to get in touch with you. Thanks.
Friendly barn cats free to good homes! Will deliver. Rescued from a large outdoor cat population. All cats are neutered/spayed, ear-tipped, negative tested for FIV and FeLV, vaccinated for rabies, distemper, de-wormed, and treated with Frontline. Call Phyllis 571.221.4442 for more information.
Riding makes all the difference! It allows you to experience the sea, the coast, the views of the mountains, the windy hilly effervescent roads of Portugal! Come Ride with US!
Hello Bowler Hill Farm! Looking forward to browsing this page.
how far are you guys from the warrenton area as we dont have class on sunday and i need to find something to do, would love to see your place if not too far. send me PM ok or call my cell phone number oin my biz card. here is my stallion Heart Breaker Romeo aka: Borrowing Freedom's " Romeo"
I sent u and john dale a friend request on your personal pages, it went to your other folder it said. on both of you. it was great meeting the both of you in stallion class
I would love to come take pictures someday :D
Wondering if any of the Bowler Hill crew will be able to join us for the Cleveland Bay Hunt with the Elkridge Harford on Saturday 22 November? Hope to see some of you there!!!
This is a little late, but here's C'est Si Bonne being a great mom and foster mom!