I have been competing since the age of nine, but got the 'bug' when I was on holiday with my parents aged four. I was placed on a donkey called Katie (still remember her to this day and may even have an old pic knocking around) which decided instead of going with the rest of the donkey group, she would take me for a gallop across the beach in the other direction!
Instead of screaming and falling off, I apparently took up the reins and pulled her up whilst laughing and smiling (despite never riding before). The man, after initially apologising to my parents, took my dad to one side and simply said 'you need to get her on a horse' and I was lucky enough that my dad started me up on lessons and very lucky to get my first pony Merlin in 1995. He was sold to us as a bombproof first pony but was the complete opposite, and despite being inexperienced and going through a tough few years with him, I was determined I’d never give up.
Merlin blossomed from a crazy uncontrollable 5 year old to an amazing show jumper who won countless classes for me throughout Northamptonshire but sadly in October 2013 he suddenly passed away from a neurological haemorrhage in a matter of hours. 4 weeks before he died Merlin won two local classes for the third time in a row at a charity show which I now sponsor in his honour. I was devastated but felt the knowledge and experience he has given me has helped me so much with my other horses.
I am from a complete non horsey family (my dad was the only person involved with horses but unfortunately he passed away when I was 13) so looking after and competing my horses can be difficult and expensive at times but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I find the satisfaction of the achievements we gain together far out way the costs and I have developed so much as a rider through riding a variety of horses, and receiving training from a local grand prix rider and natural horseman/BHS instructor that the wealth of experience gained is immeasurable.