Equestrian author and former point-to-point rider dies aged 83

  • By Sue Ellis

    The author, journalist and equestrian Caroline Silver died in Gloucester on 8 March, aged 83.

    Caroline’s love of horses was clear from early childhood when she recalled being given sole charge of a pony and allowed to wander the Warwickshire countryside at will. She went on to become equestrian correspondent for the Sunday Times, covering such events as the 1976 Montreal Olympics, at which Princess Anne represented Great Britain on Goodwill. She wrote for the Daily Telegraph and Harpers & Queen too, as well as working as maths editor and crossword compiler for Scholastic. She wrote more than a dozen books on horses, including Summer with Tommy, about breaking in a pony, as well as several on 1960s music. She was also a model in the 1950s and owned a B&B in Amberley, Gloucestershire.

    When she entered her first point-to-point in 1968, she won it – a rare achievement then for a woman. This featured on the cover of the Telegraph magazine with a vivid account of her experience inside. She had not told the trainer she had not raced before – but he had not told her the horse had never had a woman jockey before, or that he had fallen at the second the last time out on that course.

    As she got older, she developed a strong affection for cobs and owned a series of “cob characters”, including Toby, a bay Welsh cob bought from a traveller and trained by him with word commands, rather than traditional aids. Fun to ride, Toby could be unnerving at times, as when he would set off in chase if he spotted a lone cow on the commons.

    Caroline lobbied on a range of diverse causes: badger protection, hospices and better, safer bridleways. She was skilled at getting others to take on those causes too, and persuaded Pat Harris of the need for a bridleways group in the Stroud area, which became the successful Mid Cotswold Tracks and Trails Group, achieving a number of practical and policy bridleway improvements.

    Her funeral was an apt tribute to Caroline with a carriage drawn by matching greys, Mickey and Tommy, carrying her Somerset willow coffin covered in spring flowers to her village church for burial in the churchyard where her parents lie and her third husband, Richard ‘Biffo’ Barnes’ ashes were put. The carriage was followed by friends and neighbours to the service which celebrated Caroline’s life from model to journalist and author to B&B owner and her gift for friendship and fun.

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