Well hello there folks — it’s so lovely to have you following my brand new blog.
I’m Clare, an almost 40-year-old professional producer and re-trainer of former racehorses based in Gloucestershire, UK. I’m super-excited to be working with Horse & Hound and am looking forward to sharing my equestrian life, showing preparation and season, along with my love for all things horsey with you.
I love to learn what makes a thoroughbred tick and will be sharing with you in this blog everything from starting out with your new former racehorse, clinic outings, training ideas, troubleshooting, super grooming tips, what’s trending, my must-have products as well as a very honest insight into my life with these awesome horses — the highs, lows and everything in-between!
I have ridden for as long as I can remember. My first pony was an incredibly naughty bay Shetland called Gemma. I definitely spent more time on the floor than on board! However, all the best riders fall off and she taught me to live by my favourite quote “What if I fall? Oh my darling, but what if you fly?”
An active member of the Ledbury Pony Club, I spent most of my teenage years on an awesome eventing pony, Mr Max, who taught me so much. When I outgrew ponies, my first horse was an ex-racer called Marco. The rest is history, as they say.
Buckingham Boys really solidified my love of ex-racehorses with his honest, willing and lovely temperament. His presence in the show arena turned many a judge’s head on his way to the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) seven times (including SEIB racehorse to riding horse, ladies hunter, ladies show horse and lightweight hunter). I’m pictured top with Word of Warning, Jack the Giant and Definightly.
Former racehorses are my passion. Nothing beats the journey from that raw, fresh off-the-track project. Through the hours of hard work, sweat, tears and patience, come results from the first time in the show ring to the goosebumps walking through the purple curtains at HOYS. I have been lucky enough to have made the walk through those purple curtains on eight different occasions with ex-racehorses.
Each racehorse requires some downtime when they first arrive. It is essential that they have the opportunity to ‘be a horse’ and learn to relax in a different environment. I then start their retraining with relaxed hacking and light schooling. The next step is to take on the dressage arena with a low-key unaffiliated competition.
In January, Nabatean, a seven-year-old ex-Flat horse, went to his first public outing. Since he arrived with me, I have been working hard on his groundwork and in the school to improve his frame and his muscle. At first, he was quite lean, and so had to learn to use himself differently to how he would have as a racehorse. His muscle has now built up and he has changed shape.
All the hard work is paying off as he loaded beautifully and went onto to compete in two tests — an intro and a prelim. As an ex-racer, he has had to learn to work with other horses in an arena, so the numbers warming up provided him with a new experience. To ex-racers, the concept of other horses in an arena, moving in different directions instead of one, is an alien one. His biggest challenge of the day… hairy cobs — Nabatean has never seen legs with hair! He did not know what to do with himself, and his eyes were fixated on the legs. A minor meltdown later and Nabatean met the cob, but still he could not take his eyes off that hair. Despite several nervy moments, he went onto score 66% in his prelim test to finish third behind two lovely young eventers. There is a lot to look forward to in this boy’s future.
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None of this would be possible with the support of my family. My amazing husband, Colin, is not from a horsey background, but his belief in my journey and his encouragement make him my biggest supporter. He has even mastered turning a blind eye to the washing machine being constantly full of hairy, smelly horse laundry!
The rest of my support team are my three lovely children — Amy (13), Poppy (12) and Arthur (nine). Along with Pippa the lorry dog, they love the road trips up and down the country on the show circuit.
Thank you for reading this, and I hope you enjoy my musings. I look forward to sharing just how #thorough[bred]lyversatile life can be with a former racehorse.
For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday.