I was always destined to be a rider, my mother taught riding lessons and ran a yard in Cambridge in her youth and my father worked in America for a while as a true life cowboy – I even have his hat, boots, spurs and Lasso in pride of place at home. It was only after my favourite horse was sold at my local riding centre that my mum decided that it was time to own my own and the rest is history!
Height: 14.2 hands
Age: 13 - 18 years (loaned for 5 years)
Breed: Thoroughbred x Welsh
Height: 15.3 hands
Age: 15 - 23 years (owned for 8 years)
Breed: Irish Thoroughbred
Height: 16.1 hands
Age: 10 - 13 years (owned for 3 years)
I have owned 3 horses in total, the first was a schoolmistress Bay Welsh mare, Folly. She knew every inch of the ropes and was the perfect first pony, hacking out in the forest, looking after me on a hunt with the Bloodhounds and attending pony club rallies.
The years with Folly were like a page out of Jill’s Riding Club, quintessentially English Countryside riding around on your pony – living the dream!
Summer was my next partner in crime, a rescue Thoroughbred x Welsh mare. She was incredibly nervous of people and looked as my Mum would say “like a toast rack” when we picked her up. We worked patiently with her on her condition and trust issues and slowly her personality came to the fore.
She looked great, and although still suspicious with treats, her confidence in us shone through. Our riding improved dramatically, going from spooking at anything that moved and stopping at most coloured fences to jumping round Novice courses with accuracy and enjoyment as well!
Summer lived out her days in luxury with us until she sadly had to be put to sleep at the young old lady age of 23 years – we miss her dearly each and every day.
Last but not least was Benny, our retired National Hunt racehorse. Call Me Benny, sired by the successful National Hunt racehorse Beneficial, was the complete opposite of Summer - he was bold, brave and had a typical Thoroughbred head on his shoulders but you couldn’t beat his speed.
Benny showed me what a true Eventer could be like, the cadence in his swing, the bravery, speed and zest he had for the cross country and then the show jumping… hmm, this wasn’t as good – let’s just say we worked hard on trying to teach him that unlike his racing days where you could brush through fences, he would need to be very careful with the light show jumping poles. We got there slowly.
Sadly, my work and home life got busier and I couldn’t give Benny the time he needed or deserved. I made the difficult decision to sell him and made sure he had a lovely home to go to.
As I later found out it couldn’t have had a better home - the young lady rode his daily and competed but also worked on Francis Whittington’s yard where Benny was kept. I am so pleased he is with such a lovely family and can sleep easy knowing he’s having a great time and education!
I always had friends and family with horses that I could ride, however I really learnt to ride when I began proper lessons. After a few rather, dare I say it, boring “dressage style” lessons at one centre, my mother quickly found a more relaxed yard which encouraged ‘bombing around on ponies’. It was of course a reputable yard I might add, however it allowed me to pick up cantering and jumping in just a few weeks. I must also state that I nailed ‘Around the World’ pretty early on in my riding journey!
Through my riding life I have experienced so many official and non-official disciplines (can lying across your horses saddle stirrup to stirrup ‘playing a dead cowboy’ count as a discipline?* *Do not try this at home). The most fun I’ve had is probably warm summer evening hacks with friends, jumping fallen logs in the forest and beach rides under a setting sun. The most interesting scenarios have been adult pony camp, yes this is a thing and I would encourage all people of a certain age to try this! Side saddle and polocrosse have also been really enjoyable and something completely different.
I love the creative side my job brings, thinking outside the box and putting myself if my customer’s shoes to really put together an effective message for customers looking for pet and equine insurance. The group of people in my office provide an endless source of support and entertainment which really injects fun into my working day – getting on with the people you work with is so very important and I think I’m incredibly lucky to have a great bunch of people around me. And of course, the steady stream of cakes and biscuits entering the office helps considerably throughout the week!
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