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Read my write-up of the Gambia Trip: 7th - 14th December, 2007

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Hi Vicki Austin (now Miller), here.

I am 32 years old and live in Reed near Royston in Hertfordshire with my husband, Andy, in our new house.

I have two gorgeous horses, Alfie and Charlie. I originally started this journey of equestrian discovery with the help of Heather (Hev) Seems about three or so years ago now and, without her undying support, I don't know where I'd be today, I may well have given up with horses completely or have been seriously injured!  I started with the Parelli concepts but have moved towards the Australian Natural Horsemanship route with Ken Faulkner, Jayne lavender and Charlie Wilson's style of teaching and learning and it's working a treat.

The Boys -  The Terrible Two:
Alfie - 17hh ish , ID/TB/DW, 9 year old gelding
Charlie a 15.1hh ish 6 year old ex racehorse TB of the highest pedigree by Benny the Dip.

ALFIE - The reason this whole journey began for me.  I have had him since he was five months old, hindsight is a great thing as he was probably not ready to be weaned although a big foal.  It all started to go wrong when he was backed as a big three year old and after him going off to various trainers who said he was untrainable and the last big Irish guy he was with saying that he would kill me if I didn't either have him shot or get rid of him.  I decided enough was enough and this beautiful horse would not be going anywhere else as he had been through so much trauma but I still didn't know where else to turn.  A friend had him on a yard over the winter to help me and then introduced me to Hev Seems, who told the lady that my horse was so troubled she must meet me and it went from there really.  After months and months of blood sweat and tears on my part and undying enthusiasm and help form Hev, I now have the fabulous horse I have today.  Thinking back to how he was, I never thought I'd ever be able to ride him safely let alone load him take him to shows and pleasure rides etc., etc. on my own!  My goals keep moving and I still get frustrated at him not moving on and practising enough but I am enjoying him and the majority of the time I'd happily put a child on him as he is so quiet. He's far more talented than I could ever get to the root of but he is a horse of a lifetime to me who constantly teaches me and I will never be parted from him.

Update: Tragically, my beloved Alfie passed away at around 4.00 pm on Tuesday the 20th December, 2005 at Rossdales Equine Hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest when coming round from surgery to remove a large abscess from his neck, which we think was caused by his annual vaccinations for Flu and Tet.  I am totally devastated.  Thanks to the whole group for their love and support at this difficult time.

See In Memoriam

Photograph courtesy of Phillips Photography



CHARLIE: came out of racing as a four year old after sustaining a few injuries, namely a fractured skull and fractured fore leg.  He did go back into training after his injuries and stayed sound but was not up to the grade of his Derby winning father.  Hence I got him straight off the track with terrible feet and looking pretty poor with bad skin and a lot of old bruising, which gradually worked its way to the surface.  He had a year out with Alfie and was then brought back into work with me doing some ground work with him and hacking out.  He has been pretty straight forward really but does have a tricky Jeckll and Hyde temperament, where he can be as quiet as a lamb one minute and then turn into a firework waiting to explode the next for no apparent reason.  He is a very clever horse who picks things up very quickly and, like with Alfie, I intend on doing a bit of everything with him and keeping it as varied as possible.  He has a good jump and I enjoy doing XC, schooling, jumpcross, etc. and with this, and the ANH work, I hope to progress to be able to do some competition work with him soon.

Charlie at jumpcross on 
Saturday 9th October, 2004

I am proud to say that both my boys are thriving barefoot and living out 24/7.


Tetworth Ride, Sunday 1st May, 2005
Photograph courtesy of Phillips Photography


Alfie on the Norfolk Beach Riding Holiday, 20th to 22nd May, 2005

Charlie at jumpcross, Saturday 19th November, 2005


After Alfie’s tragic death just before Christmas 2005, I firstly decided maybe I would give up horses altogether as I was emotionally worn out and devastated, especially after Charlie was kicked in the field early in January 2006 as well. (Subsequently, I discovered he had a fractured splint bone three months later, although he wasn’t lame throughout and (as of today 2nd July 2006) he is still on field rest as it hasn’t yet healed!) 

Anyway, a couple of horses were pointed in my direction if decided I wanted to get another one.  After much discussion with Andy and my mum, he said he would like me to get another horse, however it was too soon after Alfie's death, but after a trip up to Yorkshire to see one of Charlie Wilson fillies, I made up my mind to think about getting another youngster to start with.  You may think I’m totally bonkers starting with another baby (once bitten twice shy!!) but it is the only way I could afford a horse of the quality I wanted and surely, with what I have learnt from my darling Alfie, I could make it happen again with hopefully, fewer errors than I made with him in the past.

So I made the decision to have Charlie Wilson's filly and to have her delivered at the end of March before Easter, so she arrived after a long journey in Charlie’s lorry and soon buddied up with my Charlie, who thought she was the best thing since sliced bread!!  She immediately came into season and Charlie thought he was in horse heaven.

I have named her J, Passport name, Ryemanor Mirror Image, she is out of Charlie's gorgeous stallion Icons Image by one of his lovely mares (see Ryemanor Stud).

So I have decided, because of our wedding this year and her young age, to not do too much with her till next year when she will be coming up to four.  She is a big gangly girl with lots of growing to do so I feel it best to let her physically mature more before I even think about riding her yet.  To date, we are practicing with saddle and bridle which she has taken in her stride and getting her used to clippers (something Alfie was terrified of!!) and working on ground work and trailer loading, all in very short bits at a time as she currently lacks balance and has the attention span of a gnat … I am hoping she will not be too tricky as she is a sweet girl but now and then her true Madam colours shine through and she needs a reminder as to where she stands in the pecking order! Watch this space…


J and Charlie  - 3rd November, 2006

J, Charlie and Evie - 8th February, 2007

5th June, 2007

Sally and Charlie


My first proper ride on J - 17th May, 2007

Some pictures courtesy
Nathalie Todd Photography

Charlie - Ashwell Show 27th August, 2007


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Vicki's Embarrassing Pictures (Gathered and Revealed by her 'Friends' at her Hen Night)