The subject for Blogtober today is What was your first horse experience? Well, I am from a non horsey family and started riding when I was 5 years old. When I started riding once a week at a local riding school. From the beginning I think it’s fair to say I was obsessed! As a child horses were everything to me and I really did everything else in order to just to be able to go riding after!
Since then horses have always been a part of my life. I have worked at yards, I have owned my own horses, shared horses and ridden for other people. I started doing my BHS exams and got up to my stage 2 certificate as I always intended on being a riding instructor, but then life just ended up taking me another way. I also attended the British Racing School in Newmarket for a whole week, before leaving my horse racing apprenticeship because I just didn’t like it and wanted to come back to spend time with James (my now husband) and my horse Stanley. It’s just funny how things work out sometimes.
There have been times in my that I haven’t ridden at all for various reasons, so I will take you on my horsey adventure full of highs and lows and in particular introduce you to the most important horses in my life….
The first pony that stole my heart was Monty. Monty was the first pony I got to know and he was a very naughty riding school pony. He was very cheeky and I remember getting frustrated that I rode Monty week after week until I became fond of him! I have fond memories riding him in my weekly lessons.
At age 12 I got my first pony Cassie, who I bought from my riding school with money that my Gramps had given me in a post office account. Cassie it’s fair to say was very bad tempered and often tried to kick & bite me or anyone else that was near her. That being said we had a pretty successful showjumping career at local shows, went to pony camps and even entered a couple of one day events. I always said we would stand a good chance of winning if Cassie was in the right mood! We actually entered one showjumping class (a weekly event that we had won the previous week) and she did not jump a single jump. We had to leave the ring eliminated at the first fence! Oh chestnut mares eh?!
My second horse was Stanley the horsey love of my life! I bought Stanley when I was 15 years old, he was a thoroughbred that had been trained as a back up horse for a local eventer up to intermediate level. He was 15.1hh but at that time felt enormous and very forward going! He was the sweetest horse you could ever want. He whinnied every day when I arrived at the stables. He was a jumping machine, I would just point him at something and he would jump it. Any height, any width it didn’t matter! Slowing him down enough to aim at the right fence whilst showjumping was a new trick I had to learn. Most photos of me jumping him see my leg swinging backwards as his jump was so big. If he couldn’t feel the stride he would just take off a stride early. He also had a knack for losing shoes! So the farrier was a regular visitor for Stanley!
Unfortunately Stanley died suddenly of a brain aneurysm in 2003. I was absolutely devastated. It was like a nightmare. The worst possible thing had happened completely out of the blue. The loss was immense. I didn’t ride for a year as I just couldn’t bear the thought. At that point I had planned to go and been accepted at Warwickshire College to do a degree in Equine Studies but I didn’t go as I didn’t want to ride anymore if I couldn’t ride Stanley. I actually ended up buying a house with James at that time instead and getting a job at South Glos Council which where I met Sue….
Now after meeting Sue at work she asked if I wanted to ride her horse Bert as she had two horses and wanted a hand exercising Bert, while she trained for BE on her other horse Spud. It had been about 2 years since my beloved Stanley had died and I had only restarted riding again to do my BHS stage 1 and 2 exams. At that point riding wasn’t fun like it used to be, I needed a purpose to get out and do it again and riding strange horses at a strange riding centre alone was not that fun. But Bert changed all that. Bert got my mojo back! And for that I will always thank him. Bert made me realise there are other horses out there like Stanley. I didn’t need to replace Stanley but riding other horses could be fun. Bert was another jumping machine – I’m now realising I have a type! Bert was just like Stanley point him at a jump and he will jump it, no hesitation no questions asked! Sue had signed me up to Berkeley and District Riding Club so we could go to rallies and competitions together. The first jumping lesson on Bert was fantastic! I jumped 3ft 6 on him the first time I rode him. I remembered that this is what I love to do. Bert and I had a lot of fun together doing rallies, camps and competitions. Bert was a handful on the ground though, I remember him dragging me through the yard on many occasions despite handling him in a chifney bit at all times!
I shared Trigger with his owner Kaz next as I had started nursing and had moved to another part of Bristol, where I could no longer reach Bert easily.
Trigger was lovely. I enjoyed riding him around the vast amount of fields they had there with my dog Ziggy following us. Trigger had a gorgeous temperament and we just pottered around the farm being content at that point to being happy hackers and doing a few riding club rallies.
I stopped sharing Trigger and concentrated on my nurse training and the only riding I did for the next few years for private lessons at Summerhouse Equitation Centre.
When I moved to Toulouse in March 2017, I thought that I would love to get back into riding. I am lucky enough to only work part time now and a year after I arrived I was introduced to Mya’s owner Katie by a mutual friend. I have not looked back, I was happy to exercise Mya for Katie as she had explained that she had a serious injury a few years ago but had recovered and she wanted to get her back into proper work. I was pleasantly surprised at how amazing Mya is. Katie has trained her well! I’ve only been riding a Mya since May, but she is just fantastic. At the moment we are working on our flat work and hacking and I hope to start jumping her if Katie allows it!
Now I have never competed at any grand level or claim to know the most about anything horsey. However each of these horses feel like part of my family. Since I’ve started writing this blog I am finding myself going back out to horsey world and wondering why I ever left. I have done things in the last few months just so I can write about them that I should have been doing this entire time as I absolutely love it. I look forward to seeing what is next in my horsey adventure. Please continue to follow the blog and let’s see where we end up!
To check out some other amazing equestrian blogs please go to https://www.timidrider.com/get-ready-for-equestrian-blogtober/