Claire Drey-Brown’s we need to talk blog: heart horses — your once in a lifetime, one in a million, equine soulmate

  • If you are one of the lucky ones, during your riding life, you may come across your ‘heart horse’.

    What exactly is a heart horse?

    A heart horse is the horse you feel you know inside out, and share a mutual love and respect for. A heart horse is the horse that truly understands you. A heart horse is the horse you love and trust unconditionally. The horse you feel understands you like no one else ever could. The ‘being’ that you run to when you are upset, and bury your face in his neck. The horse that loves you back. Your once in a lifetime, one in a million, equine soulmate.

    Heart horses may come in every different form imaginable. They could be a five-star eventer, or a 32-year-old miniature Shetland. The form your heart horse may come in is not often what you expect, or what you think you need, but what you TRULY need; whether that is emotionally, or training-wise.

    My heart horse? Mine came in the form of Phoebus (pictured throughout). He can be grouchy, bratty, sharp, arrogant, over-confident, and totally randomly despises my poor head girl. He is INCREDIBLY quirky and a very difficult ride. But to me, he is absolutely perfect, quirks, strops, tantrums and all!

    Phoebus has this ability to draw out any frustration you may be feeling, and amplify it by infinity! He also has the ability to make me feel on top of the world and burst with pride — all within the same 30 minute ride. He would drive most riders crazy. In fact, a very famous rider had a go on him once, and then handed him back to me within five minutes, refusing to ride him ever again. I have never seen Phoebus puff his chest out more with pride than in this moment.

    When I got Phoebus, I wanted a horse to jump big cross-country tracks with and climb the levels of British Eventing. I wanted a horse that was pretty uncomplicated (as I was only about 15/16), and one to have fun with.

    After he bolted one too many times with my mum, I was lumped with Phoeb. I think I speak for Phoeb also when I say we pretty much hated each other when we were shoved together.

    I had had an absolute saint of a horse before Phoebus, who would help me out over every fence and never stop giving. He would do anything, going above and beyond for absolutely nothing. He wasn’t even a ‘point and kick’ ride, he was more ‘steer vaguely in the direction, let him lock on and just sit there and wait for him to pick the perfect stride and jump it beautifully’ — which he did, every time. This horse was Baloo — perhaps I will write a blog about him in the future, although I could never do him justice! He was beyond words, in every way.

    Anyway, back to the point.

    After riding Baloo, I was over-confident, cocky, and probably quite arrogant. And do you know what? Phoebus was exactly the same! Phoebus forced me to ride correctly, quietly, and kindly. If I didn’t, I was very quickly deposited on the floor.

    It took years to figure each other out, and he still tests me most days; but we managed to climb up to BE intermediate level, and represent the South East in the two-star (new) at the national under-18 championships. Furthermore, we won all the way up to advanced medium BD, qualifying for various championships along the way.

    Article continues below…

    You might also be interested in:

    I seriously would not be the rider that I am today without Phoebus. I would also not be the person I am today without him. He taught me to be resilient, humble (he regularly put us into the lead after dressage and showjumping, only to throw a diva strop on the cross-country, teaching me things can be taken away easily, and not to get cocky), kind, sympathetic, strong-willed, and to always persevere.

    But, most of all, he has been my friend, always.


    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

    You may like...