I’m Lauren Shannon, H&H’s newest diarist, so I’m going to start by introducing myself and my horses this week.
I run a lovely small event yard in the Leicestershire countryside, with five horses to event and a few horses that are in to school, sell or produce. I have been running my business here for the past three years, after finishing university at Loughborough and having previously worked for event riders Mark and Tanya Kyle.
I was born down in Brighton, but my family moved to the States when I was just three years old. I didn’t move back until I finished school in the States at 16, therefore I sound like I am here on holiday, not trying to run a professional yard!
My main horse is Zero Flight (“Louie”), my own 14-year-old gelding who has completed both Burghley and Badminton Horse Trials in the past year, finishing 12th at Burghley in 2010. His aim is to finish in the top 10 there this year.
My mare, Quixotic, who won a young rider team gold in 2006 and finished 17th at Badminton this year (pictured), has just retired and is currently at Twemlows Stud in Shropshire being put in-foal to stallion Voss, previously ridden by John Whitaker. I have never dealt with a mare in-foal before, so there is a certain amount of learning as we go in store!
I have one mare competing at intermediate level (aiming for Blair two-star), two horses at novice and one currently at BE100. So there is enough to keep me out of trouble, while still having enough time to do what I really love, which is teaching.
I am currently training the eventing teams for the Cottesmore branch of the Pony Club, which is so much fun. I love teaching kids and teenagers; they seem to soak things up so quickly and are always so willing to try new things! I also teach a local riding club, Owston Riding Club. I tend to teach people who use riding school horses at the riding club, so it’s very different from teaching an individual horse and rider who are constantly working together. I love the different challenges teaching brings, and I find that teaching and watching others ride improves my riding significantly.
I have a really lovely girl, Jenny Olley, working for me. Between us we manage to keep the yard going and the horses happy. I love the small, intimate set-up I have, and I can’t imagine running a yard any differently. It poses its own problems (there is no one to fall back on when things go wrong!) but it makes for a fairly laid back and comfortable approach to keeping event horses going.
So I am off to Aske Horse Trials this weekend, with two novice horses and my intermediate mare, Gentel Lux. Louie is also about to start his fittening work in preparation for Bughley, and hopefully his stable-mate, Quixotic, will be back from Twemlows in the next month with a “bun in the oven”! Exciting times all round, I’ll keep you posted.