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Menu

Essentials

The important stuff

  • Check in: 3-6pm
  • Check out: 10am
  • Please bring walking boots, wellies, waterproofs and reading materials
  • Sleeping arrangements
  • One four-poster king-size bed, two single beds, one king-size cabin bed

Extra space available

Space for 1 baby no charge. travel cot and high chair available

Kids & Pets

Accommodation is suitable for those of any age

Cooking

  • Gas oven and hob
  • Fire bowl
  • Undercounter fridge
  • Woodburning stove
  • Belfast sink

Washing

  • Hot shower and flushing loo

Heating, lighting & bedding

  • Woodburning stove
  • Electric lighting
  • All bedding, blankets and towels provided
  • Plug sockets available
  • Wind up torch in each cabin

Entertainment

  • Selection of traditional board games and a bed-time story book
  • Pure DAB radios are supplied
  • Loose Reins has a communal fire pit adjacent to the riding arena where you will find a horseshoe throwing game and bull roping area.  Traditional cook outs frequently take place and occasionally a member of staff will play acoustic guitar and sing American folk music whilst guests enjoy some authentic Western food and the warmth of the fire

Activities

At Loose Reins:

  • Western Trail Riding
  • Western riding lessons
  • Horsemanship Lessons

Loose Reins offers Western riding lessons on their highly trained Quarter horse to suit your riding ability, from beginning to returning rider. Confident beginner and experienced riders have immediate access to over 2000 acres of trails over the stunning Wessex Ridgeway and Dorset countryside, riding at Loose Reins delivers a real taste of freedom, discovery and adventure. 

Michelle and her team can take a maximum of five trail riders out at one time but they must be confident novice to experienced riders. Loose Reins don't take beginners trail riding.

Non riders can do a Western Taster Experience. We can cater for four in a normal session but we can do this for large groups - price and logistics on request.

There is capacity to take up to four for a normal riding lesson - it all depends on marrying up the skill of the rider and the level of the horse but four is usually our maximum.

Please be aware that Loose Reins cannot cater for young children or complete novice riders.

Please pre-book riding activities (from £48) BEFORE you book your stay to avoid disappointment and ensure there is enough space. If you have any questions about your suitability please do call 0117 204 7830 to discuss.

  • Shetland Pony Grooming
  • Sheep feeding – seasonal
  • Wander down to the Horse Barn and say hello to the horses – there may be an opportunity to have a go at grooming one of the beautiful Quarter Horses if there are no rides going out
  • Ask the Loose Reins office if any craftsmen are working that day in the living classroom in Bonsley Wood where the Dorset Coppice Group are based.  Loose Reins is a member of the group and fellow craftsmen are often happy to do an impromptu demonstration of their skills and crafts.  The living classroom is a purpose built facility, opened by Princess Anne.  It showcases the work of the Coppice Group who have revived the ancient skill of coppicing the hazel and harvesting its wood to make all manner of items.  The rocking chairs and many other items at Trappers Cabin were hand made by Coppice Group members.

Places to visit:

  • Blandford Forum – Georgian market town with a market in the Town Square on Thursdays and Saturdays between 8.30 am and 4.30 pm 
  • Shaftesbury – Ancient hill town famous for ‘Gold Hill’, the location of the Hovis Bread advert
  • Sturminster Newton – the centre of the Blackmore Vale and famous for previously hosting the largest calf market in Europe.  Weekly Monday morning market in the Square
  • Sherborne – home to it’s beautiful Abbey and public schools.  Cheap Street is a treasure of small independent shops and cafes
  • Dorchester – Dorset’s county town and home to Prince Charles’ ‘Poundbury’
  • Bournemouth and Poole – Shops, theatre, cinema, restaurants, as well as long, sandy beaches
  • Jurassic Coast – A stunning coastline dotted with beaches of all descriptions, views to die for and miles and miles of fabulous walks along the cliffs

Outdoor & Active:

Hiking and Biking - Horsemanship and Western Riding play an important role at Loose Reins, however it’s not all about the horses. If you’re not a rider, take a map and hike, bring your bike and discover your trail on two feet, instead of four. Loose Reins has immediate access to the Blandford Forest, the North Dorset Trailway and hundreds of acres of unspoilt Dorset filled with birds, animals, insects, wild flowers, plants, trees – and stunning views

Go coastal (max 1 hour drive) - 

Lulworth Cove
Studland
Old Harry Rocks
Worth Matravers
Weymouth
Bournemouth

Food & Drink

At Loose Reins:

Tea, coffee and sugar are provided in the cabins and lodges along with some other welcome provisions to help you settle in and feel at home. Cooking basics such as oils, vinegar, salt and pepper are provided and a pot of fresh herbs can be found on the front porch

You can pre-order a Loose Reins meal to be ready for you to warm though when you arrive. Please ask the owner, Michelle for the latest menus and more details.

Loose Reins can cater for group bookings with a range of foods and Michelle's speciality is a cookout when she is able to provide a musician - gentle frontier feel rather than blazing saddles! She can also organise a western riding demonstration and cookout for groups who choose not to ride.

Local shops:

Visit the General Store onsite for supplies from essentials, such as marshmallows for the fire, to Loose Reins meals – wholesome one pot meals made with local, natural ingredients with a Western vibe. Loose Reins meals are frozen – just leave out through the day to thaw and then warm through over the fire or on the stove when you’re ready.  Loose Reins will have a site alcohol licence in the near future to sell local wines and ales but currently only soft drinks are available to purchase but you are more than welcome to bring your own.

Pubs & Restaurants:

The Fiddleford Inn - 7 mins drive - Newly refurbished. Large garden. Right on the Trail Way. Great walk from Shillingstone and back again (1.5 miles each way)

The Fontmell - 15 mins drive - Comfortable cosy bar, great local food (recommend Pizza nights). The pub was extended over Collier’s Brook Stream, which flows between the bar and the dining room

Plumber Manor - 12 mins drive - Warm welcome, incredible food, wine and gins… Sunday lunch, week nights

Meet your hosts

Meet Marc & Michelle:

Owners Marc and Michelle have always lived locally. Marc grew up with farming and Michelle grew up in an equestrian family, developing a life long passion for horses, particularly Western Riding and the Quarter Horse. They are both passionate about the countryside, its people and skills.

“Having lived at a fast, high powered pace for 25 years whilst running a successful farming business and raising a family, we fully understand the speed and demands of modern life. To re-connect, we spent many happy nights and days camping in a cabin in our ‘Pond Field’ and hours out in the stunning Dorset countryside on horseback. Just being amongst nature and spending time together was all we needed to re-charge and re-group. Loose Reins is about bringing that opportunity to others.”

Marc and Michelle's latest venture, Loose Reins is an authentic Pioneer-style holiday destination, in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Dorset, offering beautifully handcrafted and fully equipped pioneer lodges and ranch cabins as well as top quality Western riding facilities.

Wildlife & Environment:

Loose Reins is nestled in the foothills of Shillingstone Hill, under the Wessex Ridgeway and the second highest hill in Dorset.  The land comprises two large fields called West Coombe and Hazels.  The accommodation is sited on the edges of a natural Coombe which is surrounded by Blandford Forest. Loose Reins is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and views from the site take in the local landmarks of Hambledon and Hod hills, both ancient hill forts.  The National Trust has recently purchased Hambledon Hill due to it’s cultural importance.  Wildlife is extensive and most native woodland animals can be seen regularly on site and in the forest surrounding the site.  Buzzards are seen and heard daily and a family of ravens has taken up residency above the site.  There is a badger set on the West ridge and when on foot or on horseback, deer, foxes and squirrels are often encountered. Evening birdsong on site is a cacophony of all native breeds as the natural bowl created by the Coombe intensifies the sound.

Loose Reins has its own borehole from which crystal clear water rises through the green sand and chalk layers before being pumped to each cabin and lodge.  Waste water is treated on site using a recently installed, underground bio filter system before returning via land drains to the local watercourse. 
Loose Reins operates a recycling system with the local Dorset Waster Partnership and guests are encouraged to split their waste for easy handling

Getting there

Ridgeway Farm, Lanchards Lane, Shillingstone, Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 0TF

 **If you're going to be riding during your stay it is important you contact us before booking to ensure space is available for lessons or trail riding to avoid disappointment.

By train:

The nearest train station Gillingham, 25 minutes away. Pick ups and drop offs can be arranged with the owners at £15 per trip (max 4 people)

By bus:

The nearest bus stop is in Shillingstone Village, 1.5 miles away. Pick ups and drop offs can be arranged with the owners at £15 per trip (max 4 people)

By car:

Parking is a 2-5 minute walk, depending on which cabin you book

From Sturminster Newton:

As you enter the Shillingstone village on the A357 from Sturminster Newton, take the sharp right hand bend into the 30mph zone and continue up to the brow of the hill, past the Forum School on your right. At the brow of the hill, take the right hand turning (Poplar Hill) towards Okeford Fitzpaine.  After approx. 150m, at the bottom of the hill and immediately past the row of cottages on your left, carefully take the sharp left turning into Lanchards Lane. Loose Reins is right at the end of the no-through road on Lanchards Lane, so keep on going for a good mile, right to the very end of the lane and you’ll find us. Don’t be tempted to turn into ‘Penhills Farm’, just take the sharp left hand bend at that point and carry on – you’ll be nearly with us by then – look out for our signs. On arrival, take the left hand gate into the yard, pass the front of the barn and park on the concrete to the right of the barn.  Follow the signs to the Loose Reins Office where we will give you your keys and show you to your accommodation.  

From Blandford Forum:

From the A350, turn left over the River Stour at Durweston traffic lights and continue on for approx. 3 miles until you enter the 30mph zone in the village of Shillingstone. Take the third turning on the left hand side into Gunn Lane.  This is next to the red post box.  (If you get to the pub you’ve missed it so use the pub car park to turn around and Gunn Lane will be your first turning right.)  Continue on Gunn Lane, past Everetts Lane on your right and Wessex Avenue on your left. Take the next turning right (in front of the small cottage on the triangle) into Brodham Way.   Continue for about half a mile, passing Hillsfoot Farm and Broughton House on your left. At the T Junction turn left into Lanchards Lane.   Loose Reins is right at the end of the no through road on Lanchards Lane, so keep on going passed all the houses on your right, to the very end of the lane and you’ll find us. Don’t be tempted to turn into ‘Penhills Farm’, just take the sharp left hand bend at that point and carry on – you’ll be nearly with us by then, look out for our sign posts. On arrival, take the left hand gate into the yard, pass the front of the barn and park on the concrete to the right of the barn.  Follow the signs to the Loose Reins Office where we will give you your keys and show you to your accommodation.  

***Check in is between 3-6pm - please remember to call ahead to advise us of your arrival time (as Michelle does not live on site) or to seek further directions. Office 01258 863533 or Michelle 07768 113400. Have a safe journey! ***

Booking Terms

Canopy & Stars low price promise
 
Book with us in confidence knowing you won’t find that place cheaper elsewhere. All of the prices we display are set and matched by our Owners. (In this world of foreign currency, we do have to say 'subject to exchange rates' for some of our European places.)

What does ‘from price’ mean?
 
Our ‘from price’ is based on a four night stay in low season and designed to help you to compare different prices across our collection. Some of our Owners vary their nightly rates and check in days throughout the year, so it may differ from the rate quoted below the calendar. It is quite common (although by no means universal) for places to charge a little more in peak season or for shorter stays, to cover changeover costs. Consider booking longer stays during the cooler months if you’re looking for the lowest nightly rates.

Agency Terms & Conditions

Except where otherwise specified, we Sawday’s Canopy & Stars Ltd Company No 09088366 of Merchants House, Wapping Road, Bristol, BS1 4RW act only as an Agent in respect of all bookings we take and/or make on your behalf. Sawday’s Canopy & Stars is part of the Alastair Sawday’s Group of Companies. We accept no liability in relation to any contract you enter into or for any services or arrangements you purchase (“Booking(s)”) or for the acts or omissions of any supplier(s) or other person(s) or party(ies) connected with any Booking. For all Bookings, your contract will be with the supplier of the Booking in question, and in most cases this will be the owner of the property you’ll be staying at (“Owner(s)”). When making your Booking we will arrange for you to enter into a contract with the Owner of the Booking. Your Booking with us is subject to these Agency Terms & Conditions and any specific booking conditions of the relevant Owner(s) you contract with. The Owner’s booking conditions may limit and/or exclude the Owner’s liability to you.

You may decide to make more than one Booking with us at the same time. The price charged in total for more than one Booking will always equal the prices charged separately for each individual Booking. All Bookings are available to be purchased separately at the same price as they are when more than one Booking is made. This means that any multiple Bookings do not constitute a package as defined in the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.

By making a booking, you agree that:-

  1. you have read these Agency Terms & Conditions and agree to be bound by them;
  2. you consent to our use of your information in accordance with our Privacy Policy;

and

  1. you are over 18 years of age and where there may be age restrictions in place, you declare that you and all members of your party are of the appropriate age.

 

The Canopy & Stars online booking system enables Guests to make Bookings 24 hours a day. A Booking is confirmed on receipt of a 25% non-refundable deposit for all Bookings with check in dates of more than 10 weeks away. For all Bookings that have a check in date of less than 10 weeks before check in, payment for the Booking will be required in full and the entire Booking will be non-refundable. The Canopy & Stars telephone booking line is open Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm. When using the online enquiry form, for those Properties without online booking, please allow 24 working hours for us to contact you by telephone to confirm the Booking. If we are unable to reach you by phone we will attempt to contact you by email. We will contact you during Canopy & Stars working hours (Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm). Online or email enquiries will be dealt with in the order they are received, but please be aware that we cannot guarantee reservation of your selected dates until the receipt of suitable payment. Therefore, if possible, we do recommend that you book on the Canopy & Stars website using the online booking system.

 

1. Booking and payments

 

1.1 In order to confirm your chosen Booking, you must pay a non-refundable deposit as required by the Owner of the Booking in question (or full payment if booking within 10 weeks of the date of your check-in).

 

1.2 Your Booking is confirmed and a contract between you and the Owner will exist when we receive payment of the deposit and send you a booking confirmation on the Owner’s behalf. This booking confirmation will normally be sent out within 24 hours in the case of email and seven working days in the case of post, and will contain the details of your Booking and of payments made and due. If you have not received your booking confirmation within the specified time, please notify us as soon as possible by email (bookings@canopyandstars.co.uk). Please check your confirmation carefully and report any incorrect or incomplete information to us immediately. As we act only as booking Agent, we have no responsibility for any errors in any documentation except where an error is made by us.

 

1.3 We're sorry for any inconvenience, but payments can only be made by credit and debit cards. A 2% surcharge will be applied to credit cards. We do not accept American Express, cheques or cash.

 

1.4 Where a deposit has been paid, full balance payment will be due 10 weeks in advance of your check in date and a reminder will be sent to you two weeks prior to this date, where applicable, by email. We automatically take the balance payment using the same card as used to make the deposit payment. It is your reponsibility to advise us if we should use a different card and to contact us by telephone (0117 204 7830) to arrange for alternative payment method. If the balance payment does not successfully go through as there is a problem with your card, such as it expiring, then we will contact you to try and take alternative payment. If we have been unable to take payment after two weeks of the balance due date, then with regret, we will notify the Owner who may cancel your Booking.

 

1.5 Except where otherwise advised or stated in the booking conditions of the Owner concerned, all monies you pay to us for a Booking will be held on behalf of the Owner(s) concerned.

 

1.6 Credit Card payments are processed via Alastair Sawday’s Publishing Co. Ltd who provide merchants services facilities to Sawday’s Canopy & Stars Ltd.

 

2. Cancellation and Amendment by You

 

2.1 Any cancellation or amendment request must be sent to us by email (bookings@canopyandstars.co.uk) and will be considered and responded to within one working day of receipt. You are also advised to confirm all changes to our Customer Services Department by calling 0117 204 7830. Please ensure that you have received written confirmation of any changes to your Booking prior to travel. Whilst we will always try to help, we cannot guarantee that such requests will be met.

 

2.2 Amendments and cancellations can only be accepted in accordance with the booking conditions of the Owner of your Arrangements. The Owner may charge the cancellation or amendment charges shown in their booking conditions (which may be as much as 100% of the cost of the Arrangements and will normally increase closer to the date of departure). The Owner may charge cancellation or amendment charges in accordance with its own booking conditions, however for the sake of convenience only, we have outlined the Owner’s charges at clause 2.3 and 2.4 below. Please note that these are the Owner’s own cancellation and amendments charges, not Canopy & Stars’, and therefore the Owner may vary their charges as they wish, without notice to us. The correct charges will be notified to you at the time of your cancellation or amendments.  

 

2.3 Owner’s General Cancellation Charges:

2.3.1 Cancellation by you at any time will result in your deposit being forfeited, as all deposits are non-refundable.

 

2.3.2 All monies paid for a holiday (deposit and balance) are non-refundable within 10 weeks before check in date.

 

2.3.3 Cancellation of any holiday after it has been paid in full and at a date 10 weeks or more in advance of your check in date, will result in forfeiture of your deposit (or an amount equivalent where one was not paid as the holiday was paid in full) and the balance being returned to you. 

 

2.3.4  Cancellation insurance is available but will be a third party arrangement and not involve Canopy & Stars or the Owner in any way.

 

2.4 Owner’s General Amendment Charges:

2.4.1 Alterations to your Booking can only be made more than 10 weeks prior to the check in date, after which time alterations will be treated as cancellation. All alterations are subject to availability and may incur a £30 adminstration fee.

 

2.4.2 Differences in the total amount payable resulting from alterations will be refunded to you in the case of a decrease in price and paid by you in the case of increases in price.

 

Special note: Generally Owners will charge the above cancellation and amendment charges, however we must stress that these are a guide only and charges may differ from those shown here depending on the Owner. The exact charges will be notified to you by the Owner at the time of cancellation and/or can be found in the Owner’s own booking conditions which are available from the Owner on request.

 

3. Changes and Cancellations by the Owner

We will inform you as soon as reasonably possible if the Owner needs to make a significant change to your confirmed Arrangements or to cancel them. We will also liaise between you and the Owner in relation to any alternative Booking offered by the Owner but we will have no further liability to you.

 

4. Complaints

Because the contract for your Booking is between you and the Owner, any queries or concerns should be addressed to them. In the event that you have any complaint about your stay, please notify the Owner as soon as possible. If you don’t follow this procedure there will be less opportunity for the Owner to investigate and resolve your complaint and so make your stay as enjoyable as possible. Delays may also mean that amount of compensation you may be entitled to may be reduced. Whether or not your complaint is dealt with satisfactorily, please also contact us as we appreciate all feedback. It’s important to us and the Owner to know that you’ve enjoyed your stay or if anything could have been improved.

 

5. Pricing

Canopy & Stars reserve the right to amend advertised prices at any time on behalf of the Owner. We also reserve the right to correct errors in both advertised and confirmed prices.Special note: changes and errors sometimes occur.

 

6. Information & Accuracy

The information and prices shown on this website are varied from time to time and may change between the time you first view a property and make a Booking. You should check that all the details are as you expect prior to making a Booking. It is always possible that, despite our best efforts, some of the properties (including the features and extras available) may be incorrectly described and/or priced. If we discover this is the case after you have made a Booking, we reserve the right to contact you with details of the correct information and/or pricing and will give you the option to:

(1) proceed with the Booking based on the correct information and/or pricing, which may require the payment of an additional amount by you;

OR

(2) subject to availability, change your booking dates to dates when the pricing can be honoured ad so no additional charge to you. In the event that a lower price can be offered for alternative dates then the difference would be refunded;

OR

(3) cancel the Booking. If we do not receive your instructions within 5 days of contacting you, we reserve the right to cancel your Booking without liability to you.

 

7. Our Responsibility for your Booking

Your contract is with the Owner and its booking conditions apply. As Agent, we accept no responsibility for the actual provision of the Booking. Our responsibilities are limited to making the Booking in accordance with your instructions and acting properly in accordance with our legal duties as an Agent. We accept no responsibility for any information about the Booking that we pass on to you in good faith. However, in the event that we are found liable to you on any basis whatsoever, our maximum liability to you is limited to twice the cost of your Booking (or the appropriate proportion of this if not everyone on the Booking is affected). We do not exclude or limit any liability for death or personal injury that arises as a result of our negligence or that of any of our employees whilst acting in the course of their employment.

 

8. Pets

Not all properties accept pets. If you wish to take your pet on holiday, please advise us before booking and we can check whether pets are accepted at the property. You must obtain the prior consent of the Owner before taking any pets to the property. A nightly charge may be made by the Owner for each pet and additional terms may apply.

 

9. VAT

Many of the Owners of properties in the Canopy & Stars portfolio are not registered for VAT in which case no tax is payable. Where VAT is payable, the tax is included in the advertised holiday rental price.

 

10. Visa, passport and health requirements.

Unless you tell us otherwise, we assume that all members of your party are British citizens who hold or will hold full British passports valid for the entire duration of the Arrangements you chose to purchase. Information on visa, passport and health requirements, where given and applicable, is so given on this basis. Requirements may change and you are therefore strongly recommended to check the up to date position with the Owner of the Booking, Passport Office, appropriate embassy or consulate or your doctor as applicable in good time before the commencement of your holiday.

 

11. Insurance

You are strongly recommended to take out personal travel insurance for all members of your party. It is your responsibility to ensure that the insurance you purchase is adequate and appropriate for your particular needs. Please read your policy details and take them with you on holiday.

 

12. Special requests

If you have any special requests (for example dietary requirements, cots or room location), please let us know at the time of booking. We will pass on all such requests to the Owner, but unfortunately, we can't guarantee that they will be met and we will have no liability to you if they are not.

 

13. Group Bookings

Not all Owners accept Bookings for a single sex group (for example, a stag or hen party). Guests wanting to make such a Booking should check with us beforehand to enable us to check whether the Owner is prepared to accept the Booking. We will then advise you accordingly. In event that an Owner does not accept this type of Booking then it is with regret, that the Booking may be cancelled and cancellation fees may apply. It is the Guest’s responsibility to enquire with Canopy & Stars and/or check on our website beforehand to make sure that this type of booking is permitted.

 

14. Maximum Numbers

Please note that except by prior arrangement confirmed in writing, only the number of persons specified on a booking confirmation may occupy  a property. Most owners reserve the right to refuse admittance or revoke a booking if this condition is not observed and you are unlikely to receive any refund.

 

15. Your Responsibilities

Please note that you have a contract with the Owner of the property. As such you are under a responsibility to behave in a proper, appropriate and legal manner whilst staying at the property with due respect to the Owner, the Property and other guests and their property. You are responsible for informing the Owner of any losses or damage to the property as soon as possible. Please note that you will be liable to pay the Owner for any losses or damage to the property caused by you or a member of your party (except reasonable wear and tear). Some Owners will also require damage deposits. You must also leave the property by the check-out time specified on your booking. If any guest behaves inappropriately or improperly (of which the Owner will be the final judge on their Property), or illegally, the Owner reserves the right to ask the guest and their party (at their discretion) to leave the Property before the end of the holiday period and/or refuse any future bookings from you.  Any refund for so doing will be at the entire discretion of the Owner. In addition, the Owner reserves the right to sue the guest for any loss, damage or injury caused to the Owner, the Property or to other guests and/or their property. As agent, we will have no liability to you in these circumstances. 

 

16. Governing Law and Jurisdiction

These terms and conditions have been drafted in accordance with and are governed by English law and the courts of England and Wales have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to any and all disputes arising out of these Agency Terms & Conditions.

 

17. Discrepancies

In case of a discrepancy between these Agency Terms & Conditions and any other Canopy & Stars literature, these Agency Terms & Conditions shall prevail.

 

18. Validity clause

In the event that a court finds that a condition in these Agency Terms & Conditions is illegal or void, the illegal or void provision will be severed from the remainder of the Agency Terms & Conditions, which will continue to be valid and have full force and effect.