At eighteen, horses went out of my
life when I started teacher training college in
Nottingham. ,Terry and I got married in 1971 and I
started teaching in Luton – a job I absolutely loved.
Three daughters duly arrived, one in 1974 and twins in
1976. This meant I had three children under two.
I needed an escape and so horses reappeared in my life.
I started hacking out from a local stable every Sunday
morning. My love of horses had been rekindled.
Two of our daughters (Clare and Amy)
also caught the bug but Emily showed no interest
whatsoever. We got our first pony, Rupert, on
loan. He was followed by Snoopy, the first pony
I’d ever owned! I became the traditional Pony Club
mum – towing the trailer, holding ponies and making
picnics. When Amy was about sixteen, both girls
had outgrown Rupert so he went back to his owners.
We acquired Whiskey, also on loan for a year, and Amy
was competing most weekends
Amy and Rupert
Amy with Mac, and broken ankle
When Amy was about to go to
university I thought the riding years were over.
Whiskey went back and I thought I’d just get a companion
to keep Snoopy, by now in his twenties, company.
But then Mac appeared.
I should never have bought a four
year old, especially when Amy broke her ankle in a
parachute jump and wasn’t able to ride for six months.
However Mac was a very friendly horse and appeared to be
quite relaxed about life, although he was very green and
seemed to be unaware of the concept of personal space.
I don’t know how many times he stood on my foot in those
early months. We soon found out that he had deep
anxieties about leaving the yard and there were big
issues when I tried to hack him out on his own. As
Amy was unable to ride and I wasn’t confident enough for
him to trust me as his leader, we decided to loan him to
Shuttleworth College, naively thinking he would be
ridden by competent people and his confidence would
grow. Unfortunately this was not to be. He
became very anxious in a big yard, started weaving in
the stable and deposited several students on the floor.
Their solution was to starve him. He came home to
us pretty quickly
Back at home he slowly improved
provided we allowed him to stay within his comfort zone.
I had a lot of help from our instructress, Dawn Freeman.
He was jumping well and would do a good dressage test.
Cross-country was a non-starter as he wouldn’t ride
away. By this time Snoopy was retired and I had
bought a lovely Welsh cob mare, Mim. Amy had less
and less time and if Mac was going to stay, I needed
help with him. By chance Dawn had met up with Hev
Seems who was organising a Dave Stewart clinic at
Shuttleworth but then she told us about Ken and our
journey began. Through the group I learned so much
and realised how much more there is to learn and at my
great age I’m learning to ride at last!!!
Last year (2005) saw some traumatic
events in our lives. Two days after returning with Mac
from two wonderful days in Norfolk, Mim had to be put down,
having suffered a dreadful colic attack. Meg, our
hypersensitive but very trusting little part Arab mare,
joined our herd. She is a complete contrast to Mac and
she is teaching me so much about softness and feel.
Mac, now fourteen, is much improved but I still feel we
never really trust each other and he continues to suppress
his emotions. At the end of August, Snoopy fell asleep
for the last time. He had been a real friend for
sixteen years but old age had crept up on him. And so
the journey now continues with Mac and Meg, two very
different characters but both very special to us. The
future?? I hope to deepen my understanding of these
wonderful creatures from whom we learn so much more than we
can ever teach them. But most of all I want to
continue to ENJOY the time that I spend with my horses and
Meg and me at Lilley Trec
Mac, Clare & Snoopy, Snoopy’s last summer