Tales from Hickstead: ‘I had to school the horses on my mum’s front lawn’

  • NOT having any facilities to school her horses hasn’t held back April Gilmartin whose Welsh section C stallion Gems Malt Whiskey qualified three times for Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) in the Welsh B and C ridden class. He’s also taken two tickets for Horse of the Year Show.

    April moved house in November after buying an old farmhouse with land, but setbacks owing to covid and poor weather have delayed the project.

    “We’ve literally had no paddocks, no arena and not even any stables,” said April. “We put temporary stables up in the garden and I’ve had to school the horses on my mum’s lawn or out hacking. We had to break in our Dartmoor and Welsh B youngsters on the lanes.

    “We’re only five minutes from Myerscough, so we thought we were onto a winner while our arena was built, but then covid hit and all arena hire stopped. It’s been a nightmare.”

    April has owned seven-year-old Gems Malt Whiskey since a three-year-old and enjoyed seventh place in the Welsh C and B class.

    “He’s cheeky but usually as good as gold, although we can wipe out a collecting ring if he decided he wants to,” she said. “He’s a real character and a lovely boy.”

    Once the project is finished, April hopes to give up her job as a beautician and produce ponies full time.

    “We have bought an old 19th century farmhouse to live in with seven acres and have had 10 stables built and an Andrew Bowens arena put in, so we’ll be all set up,” she said. “It’ll be a dream come true after what we’ve just been through. Somehow, we’ve totally winged it– we’ve had the best season of our lives with absolutely no facilities at home. It shows what determination can do.”

    You might also like…

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...