Working full-time plus owning, training and riding a point-to-pointer is no mean feat. Stephanie Bateman finds out how some pull it off
West Susses-based Lizzie Feakes is a building surveyor and trains and rides her 12-year-old pointer Oscar O’Scar.
“My alarm goes off at 5.15am and I’m mucking out at 5.30am,” says Lizzie. “I then ride Oscar, unless I’m working from home when I ride in my lunch break.”
Oscar is ridden four times a week by Lizzie and twice by her friend George Gorman, with help also from Debbie Dunger on racedays.
Lizzie does a mixture of hacking, jumping over fences built by her brother Jack and father Simon, and schooling in her neighbour’s arena.
“I sometimes box to our local gallops at the weekend, too,” she adds.
Lizzie’s mother Julia puts the horses to bed, leaving Lizzie to work and do a spin or body-pump class before supper, and bed at 9.30pm.
“I order Gousto meals and my boyfriend Dan Howick does the household chores,” she says. “His business, D. Howick Tree Surgery, sponsors me to race-ride.”
Days in the office are a challenge. “I have make-up, perfume, face wipes and dry shampoo in the car,” she says. “It’s all worth it, though, when we get to the races.”
Plumber and work rider
Alongside his job as a plumber, Cambridgeshire-based Luke Humphrey showjumps three horses at 1.40m and owns, trains and rides five pointers. He also rides out for Pam Sly twice a week.
“I get up at 6.30am, feed and start riding by 7.30am,” says Luke, who lives on site with his girlfriend Samantha Barry. “On days when I ride for Pam, I come back at 10am and then ride mine.”
He then starts his day job as a plumber. “I work for myself so I book in what I can fit in,” he explains.
Luke has help to ride his pointers so he can work them in pairs.
“We do two lots and if there’s an odd one, they’ll be schooled or lunged,” he says. “They are worked every day, but have Sundays off. To keep myself fit, I do sit-ups and press-ups in the morning, plus riding so many every day keeps me fit.”
Samantha and Luke’s mother, Caroline, help with mucking out, and offer extra assistance at the weekends. Everyone chips in with cooking in the evenings before heading to bed at 9.30pm.
“We take it in turns to cook and enjoy a Domino’s Pizza every now and then,” he says. “It’s a big team effort, but we love our life and wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Worcestershire-based farrier Thomas Murray trains and rides two of his own pointers, Teviot Prince and Gabrial The Great. His day starts at 6.15am when he gets to the yard and rides out, often in the dark.
“I wear a head torch and ride around the local farmers’ fields,” says Thomas. “On a Saturday, I take them to Nigel Twiston Davies’ or Fergal O’Brien’s to join a string.”
The pointers are ridden six days a week.
“Jess, my wife, helps me ride out in the morning, and on racedays,” says Thomas, who starts work around 8am. “I try to get back to the yard for 6.30pm. The yard owners kindly bring the horses in if I’m later.”
To keep fit, Thomas runs most nights and spends time on his mechanical horse.
“I try to get to bed for a decent hour,” he says. “Sunday is the horses’ day off, so we visit family. It’s a busy life, but I love being active and spending time with the horses. It’s the adrenaline buzz of racing that keeps me going.”
Lucinda Ticehurst recently started up her own practice in Northamptonshire, alongside training and riding 10-year-old pointer Ar Fheabhas Ar Fad. She also has two retired pointers.
“Being my own boss gives me a greater degree of flexibility, but my horses don’t bother waiting at the gate because they never know what time I’ll be there,” she says. “I do a lot of ride-and-lead and often ride with a head torch in the mornings. Fitness-wise, I take them to the aqua treadmill or hire an arena.”
Lucinda runs the half a kilometre to the yard at 6.45am and tries to ride all three horses before work, six times a week.
“I’m on call 24/7 but my phone is on ‘do not disturb’ from 7pm to 8am unless it’s an emergency,” she says. “Luckily, my clients are local so I don’t spend hours in the car.”
Being an equine vet and riding, as well as caring for her horses, helps Lucinda stay fit.
“I am always on the move at work, and dentistry especially is a good workout,” she says. “My boyfriend, Dennis Franklin, is a rugby player so we have a gym at home that I use in the evenings. I’m lucky to have him because he makes sure I eat properly and go to bed at a decent time. It’s hard work, but horses are my downtime and keep me sane.”
Leicestershire farmer Max Chenery runs a beef cattle and arable farm alongside training and riding two pointers – Prince Of Thieves and Moonlight Escapade. He also rides a pointer for friend Lenny Smith.
“We’re not hugely successful but we love it,” says Max, whose day begins with a 40-minute run or cycle before feeding the cows. “I ride at lunchtime when it’s light and try to persuade my wife Kate to ride with me, so we can work them a bit harder. Kate does most of the looking after of the horses as I work on the farm.”
Max and Kate hunt with the Meynell and Max uses it as training for racing.
“I have some homemade hurdles that I school over, but they also have half a dozen days’ hunting before racing,” he says.
“For my own fitness, I run and spend time on my mechanical horse, and do press-ups and sit-ups.”
Max’s day finishes at 7.30pm in the winter. “Then it’s fire, gin and tonic, supper and bed,” he says. “On racedays, Lenny and his daughter Nicola help, and the grannies help with the children. Being at the races and going flat out over fences on a horse is what it’s all about for me.”
Ref Horse & Hound; 5 November 2020