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Cathy B's Page

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Cathy and Rosie

Cathy and Rosie

I only have vague memories of my first ever riding experience.  We lived in Michigan, America for a year when I was two.  While there, the whole family went for a horse ride at some stage – I was wedged in front of my mother in a western saddle!

My two sisters both had lessons when we got home to Norfolk, but the riding school had a lower age limit of five years, so I had to wait a few more years before I could ride by myself.  And then the only ponies were the owner’s son’s show ponies… and were well oated up!  So I was on lead rein for a while too.

That riding school closed, so I went to a new riding school in a group lesson and no lead rein!  The transition wasn’t easy and I was lucky to have a very supportive instructress who encouraged me and praised every try.  It didn’t take too long before I was happily bombing about in all paces.

When I was eight, we bought our first family pony.  But he was 14.2 so really for my two sisters.  We then loaned a 12.2 pony from a friend, so now there were two ponies between three girls and that worked pretty well!  When I was ten, we bought a second pony – an Appaloosa x Arab x homebred 13.2 gymkhana pony so my middle sister and I had to share. By this stage we were regularly attending the Foulden and District Riding Club, as well as being part of West Norfolk Pony Club.  Gymkhana, show jumping and Pony Club tests followed.  My middle sister gave up after a nasty fall, leaving me as sole rider of my Silvie.

At 14, I “traded up” to a 14.2.  We looked all over Norfolk and ended up buying a pony from across the road… literally!  His name was Red Alert and he also came to me with no brakes but boy could he jump!  He was a bay cob with a half wall eye.  He arrived with a gag snaffle, a drop noseband, and a running martingale.  We went on to event for Pony Club at area level (B team), so we sorted out those brakes… though we did do the fastest dressage tests ever!  By now our original 14.2 had added a few inches and ended up in horse classes – I kept him fit while my oldest sister was at University.  And I also rode an older friend’s horse in Pony Club classes. That kept me busy…. And fit!

Crunch time came when I went to University myself.  Red went to a new home for a while – and continued to play a part in Pony Club teams!  I very nearly stopped riding but it turned out that our University riding club rode at Masserella’s (owned by Ronnie Masserella) and I joined in and did a few inter-university competitions.

Having recommitted to riding, I then did my BHSAI in a gap year after university (at Wellington Riding), and ended up getting (re)introduced to western riding when I spent a month working the Easter break at a yard on the west coast of Scotland… and being roped in to a couple of western demos they did!

When we sold Red, we had asked for “first refusal” if they sold him.  So when his owner left school in 1990, he came back to us.  In theory he was “semi-retired” but it seems no one had told him!  So a new phase started with riding club activities and pleasure rides along with my mother and her Fell pony.

When my parents retired up to Scotland, I visited every few months but took on a couple of loans down in Surrey where I was living and working. Firstly a friend’s horse while she was off riding due to a spinal injury – it was this mare that introduced me to PNH, and then a lovely Irish draft mare while her owner was travelling.

The new millennium brought more changes, and I took a job in Sweden.  Riding lessons in a foreign language are an interesting challenge!  About a year in I bought myself my “dream” horse, a western backed Appaloosa mare.  The only downside was her stable name (Fifi!) but I never changed it as I soon realised it suited her ;)  But, as usual, nothing quite worked out as planned and I ended up being made redundant and brought Fi back to Scotland in 2003.  By this stage she was also being ridden in an English saddle, and I started doing Riding Club dressage with her, with some success at Prelim level.  Then I went to a Mark Rashid clinic.  I went with a spooky mare, and came back with a saddle-fit issue and a horse with movement issues!  Same horse, different understanding… Sorting the saddle issues helped a lot, but a few years later intermittent lameness turned out to be DJD in her left hock and from then on we have just worked in a sand arena when we can.

Appaloosa mare - Fifi

But hey, the one thing that is certain is change!  My mother bought an Eriskay mare (a rare native Scottish breed) who had been backed using Silversands techniques.  A few years later at the grand old age of 36, we lost Red.  So the current gang is: Rosie the Eriskay mare (12), Dudley the Fell pony (26), and my Appaloosa  mare (17).

Red at Cockley Cley

Red at Cockley Cley

Dudley

Dudley

 

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