A great-grandmother who got back into the saddle at the age of 81 has won her first rosette at her first horse show.

Annie Rea entered herself as “Granny Annie” for the show, at the Mare and Foal Sanctuary in Newton Abbot, Devon, on 11 September.

She rode her friend Tania Semmens’ five-year-old Welsh section C mare Bodynys Tiatia in a mountain and moorland showing class – and came second.

“It was magical,” she said. “I wasn’t nervous till we got there and saw all the horseboxes and I thought: ‘What am I doing here?’ But it was lovely.

“That was on my bucket list and I’ve done it now.”

Annie owns a 20-year-old pony called Apache, who she mucks out every day but who is not in work. She had not ridden for 50 years until this summer.

“It was about two months ago,” she told H&H. “I got on Tia and rode her round the block – I struggled a bit to get off – and that was it, until Sunday.

“I must have said I would love to be in a show as I never have, and you can’t say anything round here because people pick it up! They made my dream come true.”

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Annie, who has four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, rode as a child but having her family put the riding on hold.

I fell in love with horses when I first sat on my uncle’s Shires Punch and Judy at the age of six,” she said.

“I never owned one as a child as it was too expensive, but I’m making up for it now.”

Annie may ride Tia again, but she does not plan to repeat her show experience.

“I couldn’t believe I’d done it on Sunday,” she said. “My rosette’s on my mantelpiece but it was a one-off, I’m not doing it again as it would spoil it.”

Mrs Semmens told H&H she had had no idea how long Annie had been out of the saddle.


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“She said she’d like to ride so we went out and it was only afterwards she said she hadn’t ridden for 50 years,” she said.

“I’d expected her to need looking after but she just got on and rode.

“I was so proud at the show, it made my day.”