I've been into horses for as long as I can remember - the
first time I sat on one was when we were visiting relatives in Oz - it
felt like a cart horse at the time, but now when I see the photos as a
grown up, I realize it was only a 14.2h pony!
I started riding in the UK
when I was eight at a riding school in Dove Lane, Potters Bar. I remember my
first lesson - I fell off and badly winded myself. Come the following
weekend I didn't want to go back, but my dad gave me no option - didn't
appreciate it at the time, but really glad now. The riding stables and
most of the countryside I grew up in is now under the M25. We moved to
Cheltenham when I was 11 - much nicer place and a lovely riding school
literally up the road from me. I used to spend every weekend up there and
have happy memories of summer camps, ponies and friendships that were
Well, come 18, I left to go to Reading University and then four years
later ending up working for a plant breeding company in Cambridge (now
CBP Twyfords at Thriplow). The company director's daughter and wife were
both into horses and I ended up part owning my first horse - Oscar, a 15.2h Anglo
Arab. He had terrible legs caused by a life of hunting, but he
had a lovely personality and I enjoyed my hacks on him. The family went
through some bad luck, and we ended up having to sell Oscar - very sad.
left Cambridge to do my PhD at Nottingham and didn't ride again for
After three years at Nottingham, I got a job just south of
Norwich, breeding sugar beet, but still didn't take up riding. In 1996 I
changed jobs and was able to work from home. I started to ride again, but
only on holiday. I went on some really lovely trail riding holidays in
France and Spain and loved that type of riding - long days in the saddle
in great locations.
Finally, in 2000, I was in a situation were I was
still working from home and at last in my life I had the time and the
money for a horse and was in the right place - in the middle of Thetford
Forest. I had been helping to look after the local farmer's daughter's
horse, Punk (real name 'Lord of the Rings') and I asked if I could keep a
horse with him. I had just got back from a trail riding holiday in Spain
and had visions of spending long days riding out in Thetford Forest.
What's the saying - 'fools rush in' and 'repent at your leisure'.
out and bought the first horse I saw, which turned out to be a complete
disaster and I ended up selling him three months later at a loss - an
expensive lesson. I hadn't even heard of natural horsemanship then and
when I look back on it, I feel that I let him down.
Needless to say, I
spent a long time looking for my next horse and always trusted my
instincts - if I had any doubts, it was a 'no'. Boy, did I see some
donkeys over the next six months and some very unhappy horses (although I
didn't realize it then, being unconsciously incompetent).
Loops and P
I found my
current lad on the internet - his previous owner was having to sell him
due to health problems and although she lived in Sussex, Loops was in
Gloucestershire, at a dealer's yard, where he was being sold on the owner's
behalf. It was during the fuel protests and three days before I was due to
see him, a lorry jack-knifed in front of me and seriously damaged my car.
Luckily I was ok, and I set off to Gloucestershire in a hire car with tank brim full!
Lyupin (Loops, Big Nose or Mr. Beadly as he's now known) was a 12 yr
Russian Tersk when I first met him - it's seems a long time ago with many
ups and downs a long the way, including the wettest winter since records
began, F & M and another job change. It's a partnership that's lasted
just over four years. Loops is now sixteen (I'm not going to say how old
I am!) and was imported from Russia as a stallion when he was four. He
sired two foals in this country before being gelded when he was eight -
ouch ! I would love to know where his foals are now!
Our first six
months together was not that brilliant - there was no connection or
relationship and unless I had food with me, he just ignored me. He
was also very impulsive and had had every bit under the sun in his mouth
at one time or another. Then one day when we were out riding, he took off
and I had to pull so hard to stop him his mouth started to bleed. I felt
terrible and thought there had to be another way. I found an advert for
PNH in a horse magazine and bought Pat's book. I must admit I didn't
understand a lot of it - I was soooo dumb. I got my L1 and L2 packs and
went on loads of clinics, but there was still something missing, until,
that is, we went on a Ken Faulkner clinic in 2002. It was like somebody
turning a light on! We haven't looked back since and now the relationship
between us is great. I love just playing with Loops and messing about in
Thetford Forest and attending any NH clinics when we can. I've met some
great people on the clinics and it's lovely to have the support when things
aren't going right and the 'traditional' people are giving you hassle!
May the Horse be with you!!
Loops and Cathy after they had won the ridden showing
class, the obstacle course and overall show champion at the NNHG
show in August, 2004. The next show is scheduled for July 9th,
2005; it would be great if some of the NH from Cambs/Beds could
attend - I certainly had a great day.
Bobby is a
four year old QH x Irish Hunter. He is very friendly and laid back. It
took me 4 months of searching, but thanks to Loops and all the NH Iíve
done, I knew what I was looking for this time !!