My mother and I have loved doing the horses together over Christmas. It is just as well that we’ve only had two in as my mother has become completely neurotic and I have even caught her patting their beds with her own hands to ensure the perfect finish. However, when both mummy and I were away one night, we turned to that other great equestrienne, Lucy (my sister).
I am sorry to report that she does not share my mother’s obsession and we can only imagine that she had collected three barrow-loads from the muckheap and blended it in to their hitherto immaculate beds. However, my family have a horrid suspicion that this was always her plan to ensure she’s never called on again.
Unfortunately, my father has also proven himself to be a little short of ability when dealing with horses. With my mother and I out cross-country schooling, we left him with the task of simply putting the rope on Cash’s headcollar in his stable and leading him to the field. We soon got a call from him saying that the “cussed beast” had refused to let him “rope him up” and when Cash turned his bottom to him (which we don’t believe), apparently my father knew better than to “get a broken leg.” And after a final attempt to “lure him with the hay,” he gave up.
For Christmas, my mother had asked for jodhpurs, a headcollar and very worryingly, a radio-training aid which she had specified on her list should be a one-way communication — this did not bode well for me. Fortunately, Father Christmas ignored this instruction and I shall be able to answer as I please.
This list was a sure sign that she has fallen completely in love with my new horse, Connie (pictured schooling with me, top), and I’m nervous we will be seeing her in her new breeches out competing with her herself. I too am smitten with her but, as always seems to happen with a new ride, we had a few early misunderstandings between us. But thankfully due to an extra-long school holidays of four weeks, I’m beginning to discover where her buttons are. We’ve been really careful to make an extra special fuss of Cash whose nose was very much out of joint on Connie’s arrival.
Having had Connie for six weeks now, I cannot imagine our yard without her. Thanks to a mixture of good timing and pure determination on my mother’s part, we were very lucky to get Connie. Originally mummy and I set off to Belfast to look at several horses, with our eyes on Connie in particular. We were extremely disappointed on our arrival to hear that she had been sold that morning. We looked at a variety of horses from experienced eventers to four-year-olds. There seemed to be a horse in practically every field — so much so that when we arrived at one dealer’s yard he asked “what colour would you like?”
We saw some lovely horses but not quite the right one and so when my mother heard the next day that Connie’s sale had fallen through, she jumped on the first flight she could, leaving me at school. Although we’d bought some of my most successful ponies unseen including Beat The Boss, I was quite nervous as having sat on several horses for the first time the previous week, I had not bargained for what a huge step up horses were from my 14.2hh and 14hh ponies that I was used to riding.
One of the most frustrating (but no doubt sensible) things about riding is the age-restriction limits, especially in working hunter pony (WHP) classes. This is particularly annoying for me as although I am one of the smallest in my age-group, due to my November birthday I have one year less in these classes than most others my age. Because we can never bear to sell any of our old ponies, most of them are out on lease. This means I send my ponies off to their new riders and on their return two or three years later I have only just grown into them!
I was absolutely thrilled to see Percy (Noble Sir Prize), my 14 hander, for the first time since HOYS (Horse of the Year Show) this week with Grace Donnor, who has formed a superb bond with him and has him looking HOYS-ready. We’ve also had brilliant updates from Boss and Holly and they will have the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) nursery as their target, as do Hazel and Dorothy. Florence and Muffin are doing fantastically together, and Lucia who has Raindance, now at the age of 22, will be back doing HOYS WHP qualifiers this year together.
Christmas has been the most intense of holidays riding-wise I think I’ve ever had. Although we haven’t done a competition together yet, we have fast tracked the training and I’m sure Connie will be relieved to see me going back to school. We’ve been so lucky that we haven’t been held up by the weather and it’s really given us a chance to get to know each other and to now start setting some targets for the season ahead.
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After her sister, Lucy, decided to hang up her boots, Susie now has the opportunity to get her own back
I must show some in appreciation in this blog towards my amazing godmother, Alexia Robinson. Among some very special presents last year, she sent me a copy of ‘Up, Up and Away’ which the then, Lucinda Prior-Palmer (now Lucinda Green) had written about her first horse Be Fair and had hand-written a wonderful message to me in it. I know it was my mother’s favourite book and Alexia’s too, and it really is the most inspiring read, which I really recommend. Alexia herself is a fantastic horsewoman and is the most wonderful support to me.
The ‘service award’ of this blog is to TDS Saddlers who really did go the extra mile to get a particular headpiece to me in a hurry for Connie. What an amazing service and thank you.
I wish you all the most wonderful season ahead in which I’ll be balancing eventing and working hunter pony classes — I can’t wait.
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