My book, To Amaze the People with Pleasure and Delight: the horsemanship manuals of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle (Xenophon Press, 2015), is the result of many years of research, much of it undertaken on horseback.
As I’ve ridden all my life, I became interested in him too and eventually completed a PhD on his two horsemanship manuals of 1658 and 1667, seminal texts in the history of horsemanship.
Work on the Duke and his horses has been a significant part of my work and life for almost 20 years. My own horses have been involved as well as those of El Caballo de Espana. My research lead to the private collection of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, a guided tour of the Cadre Noir of Saumur, some bizarre eBay adventures and an uncomfortable train journey from Prague to Vienna, carrying a framed engraving of him I found in an antique shop.
Since completing my PhD, I’ve been a consultant for the BBC, ITV, Historical Royal Palaces Commission/Royal Armouries and, on several occasions, English Heritage who manage Bolsover Castle, where one of the Duke’s riding-houses survives. A high point of my work was the demonstration of his techniques I gave in the riding-house at Bolsover with two Spanish horses.
Alongside my book, first published in 2010, I’ve also written several essays and articles on him and given talks and papers in various conference and exhibition contexts.