‘The perfect life’: husband bought wife a surprise cob for her 60th – now he’s a convert too

  • A rider who had been out of the saddle for 30 years but was bought a horse for a 60th birthday surprise has now converted her husband too, and is living her ‘perfect life’.

    Carol Watson, who had ridden from childhood until she was 30, was convinced her husband Steve was arranging a second proposal at her 60th birthday two years ago. But instead, she met Molly.

    “It’s changed my life,” Carol told H&H. “Before I had Molly, I think my family were worried about me; I work for myself and I was pasty-faced, sitting at a computer till 11pm every day. That feels like a lifetime ago.”

    Carol started riding aged eight, saving her pocket money for lessons with a Miss Gibbons, and helping at the yard until she bought a “feisty but beautiful” part-bred Arab in her 20s.

    “I loved it but then family life took over,” she said. “I had a 30-year break, and I don’t know where my husband and daughter got this idea from!”

    Carol said Steve had hired a venue in the Peak District for Carol’s 60th, inviting friends and family to the party. But he and their daughter Jade were being secretive in the run-up to the big day, and disappearing a couple of times a week.

    “I convinced myself that they were practising some kind of dance routine and that Steve was going to propose!” Carol said, adding that the couple had had to cancel their planned renewal of vows owing to Covid.

    “Steve knows I’m a big romantic and love to watch the surprise proposals on TV with music and dance routines. I’d convinced myself so much, I even had my hair in a ‘put up’ style for the evening!

    “We got to this beautiful house and he did this amazing presentation, with beautiful music, then he told me to watch the screen carefully and read the words.”

    Carol watched as sentences such as “Hello Carol, you don’t know me but I’ve heard all about you”, and “don’t worry, I’m very gentle but strong” scrolled across the screen.

    “I was getting worried thinking I had a stripper!” she said. “This carried on for a couple of minutes until the words said ‘Are you ready to meet me?’ I was a bit scared!”

    But then the screen read “My name’s Molly, and I’m yours,” with footage of a piebald cob cantering around an arena.

    “It took me ages to understand,” Carol said. “He’d planned it all, had livery sorted out, everything; it was unbelievable.”

    Carol said her only slight doubt was that 14hh cob mare Molly was “like a kid’s pony”, and a far cry from her previous horse.

    “I’d never have chosen her!” she said. “But I met her the next day and she was adorable. I hadn’t ridden for 30 years so I was a bit nervous. I couldn’t even remember how to tie knots, and there was this little beastie to look after.”

    Carol said it was a “massive learning curve”, and she needed to regain her confidence, but gradually she and Molly started hacking out, with Steve on his bike.

    “We both got stuck in,” Carol said. “Steve got on her a couple of times; he rode as a lad, and we just fell in love with the lifestyle. My computer got dusty because I was at the stables all the time.

    “It took a while to get my confidence back but she’s given me such confidence and we’ve had the best fun ever. She’s solid, safe and funny – my heart is completely hers.”

    Carol invested some of her pension in a pink horsebox, and not only that, Steve is now a convert too.

    “My husband loved the lifestyle so much that he bought a horse for himself six months later,” she said. “It’s the best thing we’ve done. Two 60-year-olds having this in common; it’s unbelievable.”

    Carol and Molly, and Steve and Sal, spend their time “tootling about”, and enjoying every minute of the whole lifestyle.

    “I never do any housework now, and if we’re out with friends and start talking about horses, we have to remind each other that not everyone is horsey; we have a safe word, ‘cucumber’, if one of us is talking about horses too much – and it’s usually him, as he’s completely in love with his horse.”

    Carol thanked the supportive other liveries on her yard for helping her find her feet again in the horsey world, adding: “When I was a lass, it was New Zealand rugs, now it’s all 50g or no-fill, and the riding’s different too. But to be back in the horse world after all this time – it’s changed my life.

    “Before, I had no exercise or fresh air, I was just thinking myself into this computer world. Now, I wake up every day so excited to see Molly. When I look between her ears and hear that clippity clop, it lifts my soul. It’s just the perfect life.”

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