I got my first pony, Monster, when I was 5 years old; I lived in London but my new stepdad had a cousin in Essex so we kept the pony at her riding school and thatís where it all began. When Monster died we were given George, a 13.2hh Arab cross about 6 years old, I was 7. I didnít really ride George, he was totally unsuitable but I loved him and rode the other ponies; I lived for the weekends and the fun of the pony camps. When we moved to Letchworth, George had to go on loan as the family had fallen on hard times and we couldnít afford to keep him. I was devastated, it wasnít until I was 14 that I saw him again when my parents agreed that we could share the costs with my best friend and I got a job cleaning toilets in a factory to help pay for his shoes. At least George was by now much more manageable but I was a terrible rider quite unsuccessfully competing in many gymkhanas over the years, eventually I got too big for him and he was put on loan to someone who kept him until he died just a few years ago in his 30ís.
Life took over, I had my first son Sebastian when I was just 19, got married to the wonderful Will and then had my second son Charles.
Eventually, there was time to consider horses again and I had some great horses on loan until I bought Rocky, making all the mistakes in the book. No amount of vet bills, back experts or tack changes could work out why he bucked so violently and I wasnít experienced enough to correct the situation so I sold him for £600 to a dealer.
As I watched my hopes and dreams being loaded into a lorry my heart broke, I felt a complete failure, so disloyal and useless and stupid.
For the first time in my life I started proper riding lessons until I felt confident enough to try again and I bought my wonderful Mr Mole, the beached whale on the left of the photo. Moley and I had a wonderful relationship and while trying to prove to myself that I wasnít completely useless we won many local jumping competitions with an interesting combination of him pushing and me pulling and some nifty steering at lightning speed. Our record was jumping over 90 jumps in one day from 2í2Ē to 3í3Ē, not refusing or knocking down even one while being determined to get enough points to win the Jumping Champion and Overall Champion. We did it and I hope my competitive streak can finally be put to rest. Moley is now happily retired.
We by now have moved to my heaven on earth, our own small holding ten acres, most of which I can see from my bedroom window, trouble is Iíve got no horse to ride. A good friend of mine who breeds what she calls Ďproperí horses gave me the opportunity to ride her dressage horses under her riders' tuition. To get me up to speed, I had four lessons a week for the first few months riding huge Hanoverian horses. I was quite riding fit as Iíd spent a while running a livery yard where I was expected to ride the horses in for schooling which I did under the tuition of my Alexander-type instructor when I was sometimes riding four horses a day.
Then along came Sonny Jim, the suspicious looking chestnut in the photo. Iíd known Sonny for years, occasionally seeing him hit round the head with a whip. If Sonny turned up at a jumping competition, me and Moley might as well go home. A very good friend of mine bought him but fell on hard times and he was put on loan over and over again, the homes were always good but his problems were never really dealt with, being pushed round the jumping circuits over again. I agreed to have Sonny strictly for six months only (three years ago) to hack around for the summer. Sonny broke my heart. He winced every time his rug was put on or taken off and I couldnít put a brush on him without him turning to bite me or threatening to kick. To ride he was a joy, brave and fast although I rode him in a gag, flash nose band and martingale to give me some chance of stopping. He was unhappy and I desperately wanted to help him but he was 23 by now, I wasnít sure where to start.
Along comes the famous Hev, only to disappear to deepest Devon but she put me in touch with this wonderful group of people who did strange things with halters and string and I booked myself onto a course with Jayne Lavender. Sonny soon breathed a sigh of relief and after some time we were happily hacking in just the halter. Who says you canít teach an old horse new tricks? There are some things in Sonny that Iíll never be able to change but I love him just the way he is and his owner has said that he can stay with me forever. Heís 26 now and although fit as a fiddle I felt he deserved to be left in peace, heís done so much in his life, heís happily retired now.
Then one day the most beautiful young warmblood mare turned up in the field next door (beached whale at the back of the photo). On realising that I knew the owner I went over to say Hi. She was in a bit of a state, heavily pregnant and scared stiff of this very naughty, pushy, obnoxious mare. All she could do was turn her out, she couldnít even give her away she said ...
Daisy came home with me and well letís say sheís a work in progress. I absolutely love her, sheís funny and naughty and a pain and beautiful and loving. Sheís a gift from heaven and thanks to the fantastic support of this group and the amazing tuition Iíve found weíre getting to get on just fine.
I feel so blessed for all the experiences Iíve
had with all the horses that have crossed my path and look forward
to each new day with my lovely gang of two old men and a naughty
little girl called Daisy.
Introducing Kaushika, a beautiful Arab mare, and Maggie, a nearly unmanageable but totally lovely Springer Spaniel puppy. Iím feeling very lucky indeed.
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