This season has certainly started off with a bang, which makes it hard to not only reminisce on how far I’ve come, but also where and when my pony madness all begun.
I was extremely lucky to be born into a horsey family, where it was inevitable that as soon as I was old enough I would be sat on a horse, or on the farm at home lending a hand with the lambing or moving sheep on horseback.
In the early years school just seemed to be a blur to me, as all I really wanted to be doing revolved around being sat on a horse, taking part in sport and getting covered in mud!
I would do the ponies before school; that was the deal. I was oblivious in classes that I stank of haylage and horse manure from my morning on the yard!
Over the years, I’ve had a number of phenomenal horses and ponies. However, I’ve also had my fair share of naughty ones that had other ideas.
My first pony Lightening certainly lived up to his name. He was given to me by my god mother, Joanie. I would take him up to the field, where I would swiftly fall off and end up running after him to find him stood with a vaguely guilty look and mouthful of hay tucked away in the stable. This would then be followed by me taking him back up to the field, only for this whole saga to be repeated again! It was like something from the Thelwell cartoons and it luckily didn’t deter me.
Next was Harry, a 12hh gorgeous looking Exmoor pony; butter wouldn’t melt. But in my early years on him this was not the case. The amount of times my parents collected me from my instructor’s (Fiona Jones) after a day hunting covered in mud and soaking wet was well over half of the time. He had a habit of enjoying getting down to roll in a puddle, or worse still in a stream. My jam sandwiches that mum would have neatly put in my jacket pocket were mush. Surprisingly Harry actually ended up turning into a great Pony Club and hunting pony that would climb over banks that we both couldn’t see the other side of.
I had a number of exceptional horses that gave me a lot of success and memories that I will certainly treasure. My poor parents had to suffer numerous trips out to go to Pony Club, hunting, and if they thought that was bad enough, I was bitten by the eventing bug aged 13. This took us miles up and down the country, which was one of the definite downsides to living in Cornwall as our closest British Eventing (BE) event was two hours away.
Mum and dad were quietly hoping that it was all going to come to an end when I found boys, make up and taking part in activities that most teenage girls go about exploring at that age. However, they couldn’t have been more wrong. I gained a riding scholarship to Millfield School and found a way of combining the inevitable school work with horses, completing my BHSAI and of course socialising. Lessons at 6am under the watchful eye of Danny Anholt were a daily occurrence.
It was after school that I gathered some memorable and interesting stories that will live on for years. I spent two years deferring my position at the Royal Agricultural University, while I was a working pupil at Lucy Wiegersma’s yard in Devon. We had daily training from the renowned and sadly late Caroline Creighton, putting us through our paces, regardless of how rough we were feeling from the night before.
Eventually I decided I would give university a go, on the proviso that if I didn’t like it I would come home. Luckily for my parents, after the first term I decided it wasn’t so bad, especially, as I had my horses stabled nearby!
It’s strange how life can set you on a path that you have never even considered. It was only when I did my placement as part of my university course at B&W Equine Vets that I realised that I had found a passion for something else, and most importantly I could still event alongside!
It was not long after leaving university that I gained a job with B&W Equine Vets (where I continue to work now). Unfortunately not long after starting, I had my accident and here’s where the journey continues! Still never deterred and certainly giving my incredible parents grey hairs!
A great start
After a few hiccups over the winter, I am feeling ready and raring to go for the season ahead. Abira and Amo are feeling in great form and are giving me lots to smile about after our first couple of outings.
My first competition was with Abira to Hartpury for a para event (pictured top). He was on his toes and very keen to get the competition season rolling, as was I.
He flicked his toes and behaved immaculately in both tests to win both with great scores of 73%+ and 71%+. I felt extremely happy and could barely eat after I had finished competing, as I was on such a high!
It was lovely to have a great group of friends there to share my excitement with too and I was very grateful for their support — the highlight of the day being my housemate Martha taking selfies with Abira. I looked through my photos and videos at the end of the day to find more of Martha, Trina, Abira and the dogs, than competition photos! Luckily I had camera expert Jai on hand to take some lovely pictures of us competing.
It was Amo’s turn to shine at Summerhouse last week. We competed in two advanced medium tests. She too was happy to be back out on the party scene again. She did two lovely tests to come third in both.
The next few weeks are full on with competitions back to back. It feels great to have got the season underway and I am eager for my next outing!
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”