Arniss Equestrian & The Fighting Cocks pub, Godshill, New Forest

I knew Monkey 2 would be missing riding while we were away so I booked two half-hour riding lessons at Arniss Riding School for during our holiday in the New Forest.

I’d done some research before we left and had booked and paid for the lessons in advance. A couple of nearer stables were available but only seemed to offer hacks, and the online reviews were mixed about the friendliness of the staff at both. As it’s so important Monkey 2 feels comfortable, I looked a little further afield and found Arniss just 20 minutes from our accommodation.

I checked out the website and it had plenty of choice for lessons and the yard looked similar to what my daughter was used to.

On the day, we left on time but got stuck on the only main road to Godshill due to a traffic accident. Halfway along it we had to turn back as the road ahead had been closed. I called the stables and they were aware of the delay and were happy to move our lesson time on by half hour or later that day. As we were almost there, we went for the first option and ended up having a dash through country lanes using my phone’s GPS (brilliant!). It was actually quite fun and was a great way to see the more rural parts of the area!

On arrival, we were greeted by the owner and were asked to complete a form for health and safety. Monkey 2 had brought her own hat, chaps and boots, but the stables also loaned them out. While we were there a family of four went out for a led hack, which I thought a great idea (although not for us as Monkey 4 couldn’t go as he’s too small!).

In the end, we had to wait about 20 minutes for the instructor to return from a hack so the rush was for nothing and Monkey 2’s anxiety was building with the waiting, but she adored her pony, Pippin, when she was finally brought round. It is always lovely to see her relax around ponies.

The instructor was good too. A friendly lady with a gentle firmness and Monkey 2 responded very well (it’s always a bit nerve wracking for me to see if she’s going to get anxious). She got her settled and helped her improve her position and jumping.

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We are glad we booked two lessons, the other later in the week, as we feel even more benefit will come the next time, now that Monkey 2 has seen what it is like, and she’ll get to ride the same pony.

Overall, I felt the yard was well run and organised. The staff kept a keen eye on safety and seemed to be busy but approachable.

After, we drove through Godshill and stopped for lunch at The Fighting Cocks (the Monkeys thought this was amusing!).

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Lots of writing but not much choice

It was a large pub which boasted a children’s playground, although it was really a fairly small climbing frame with slide that only a few children could play on, but it was better than nothing.

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Small playground given the huge outside space

The overall venue looked pretty rundown and despite having a large garden, the seating and benches were old. Inside looked compact but smarter, but as it was busy and a nice day (and Monkey 4 needed a feed), we opted to sit outside.

The menu was limited to basic pub food (sausages, burgers, fish, chips) and the prices were high (£11 for burger and chips), but the portions were generous and it tasted good, though in hindsight we should’ve share one meal. (My burger weighed almost as much as the baby!)

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Generous portions but pricey for what it is

It’s not somewhere I’d make an effort to go to again, but if you need to get fed before exploring the National Park and don’t mind the cost, then it’ll do.

The highlight for Monkey 2 was the donkey which hung about at the roadside before coming over to say hello. The bartender said it was just one off the Park so Monkey 2 naturally spent time petting it.

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Our donkey friend

Monkey 3 eventually made a few friends on the climbing frame so we gave him time to play while we finished our drinks and Monkey 4 slept.

We then went for a drive across the National Park to do some pony spotting for Monkey 2’s benefit. She wasn’t disappointed and saw lots of ponies up close!

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Lovely to see this mother and foal at the roadside

*I was not asked to write this review, this is entirely my opinion of our experience.

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2 thoughts on “Arniss Equestrian & The Fighting Cocks pub, Godshill, New Forest

  1. Sounds like a lovely day, although I wouldn’t have been happy paying £11 for that food! Hope monkey 2 enjoys her second visit to the stables as much. X

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