My profile in brief:
- Been obsessed with horses from a very early age
- Ridden from 4 years
- Competed on all PC Teams
- Been largely self taught
- Ridden Haute Ecole Stallions
- Broken and schooled problem horses
- Retrained Racehorses
- Worked in Racing, Show Jumping, Dressage, Hunting and Stud yards
- Been a Freelance Groom
- Bred and competed my own horses from birth to CCI**
- Competed Clients’ Horses
- Received instruction from:
- SYLVIA STANIER
- LARS SEDERHOLM
- YOGI BRIESNER
- STEPHEN HADLEY
- LUCINDA GREEN
- RICHARD DAVIDSON
- DICK STILLWELL
- WARREN WOFFORD
- EBERHART WEISS
- Holds "The ITEC Diploma in Human Anatomy, Physiology, Massage 1997"
- Holds "The ITEC Diploma in Equine Sports Massage 1998"
- Lectured for 15 years
- Written and Illustrated a Book
- Been Chairman of the Equine Sports Massage Association for 10 years
- Specialised in Theoretical and Practical Equitation
My obsession with and dedication to horses was instinctive and natural. It was always there from as far back as I can remember.
With the love of horses on both sides of my family it is not surprising. My mother always loved horses and trains gundogs for a living.
My mother riding her Anglo Arab Zany
Her grandfather had racehorses in India and she is related to the famous horse artist Gilbert Holiday.
My Grandmother on my father’s side was obsessed with horses, had and bred many ponies. I just adored going to “see the pones” as soon as I could speak. We lived very nearby for a while and my brother and I shared a couple of ponies to sit on.
Me on Tuppence aged 4
My Grandmother on my mother’s side had ridden when she was young in Kenya and she knitted my cross country jumper when I was 10. This I still proudly wear today, over 30 years later!
We moved to Africa when I was 5 and I enjoyed very much sitting on my mother’s scrawny Arab stallions, and if a salesman came to try to flog a horse he would prove it was safe by throwing me on board!
On some random Arab stallion!
My Mother’s influence
It wasn’t until we moved to Maidwell when I was 7 to live with Sylvia Stanier LVO that I was spoilt with a pony all to myself. I loved all things, mucking out and grooming as much as the riding. Unfortunately my first few ponies weren’t very nice!! My first real super star was Dinky.
Me on Dinky at Medbourne PC Hunter Trial aged 9
My Mother taught me to ride. She had been taught by a Sergeant Major in Egypt.
My Mother riding Silver during a lesson with the Sergeant Major, she is lucky to be riding with reins and stirrups as they were often made to go down a line of fences with neither, singing ‘Kiss me goodnight Sergeant Major!’ I would add that these were not usual schoolmaster horses!
So she had a thorough understanding of horsemanship and what was required to make a toughie! Although she was a little more sympathetic, if I fell off, than her Sergeant Major who would boom “who gave you permission to dismount?!” Nevertheless I was always made to remount immediately however sore!
My Mother has given the very best support that an event rider could have had. She has a firm understanding of animal psychology, so is always a great guidance during dilemmas. She has come to virtually every event I have competed at and put up with occasional ghastly tantrums and endless post mortems, she has never criticised any shortfalls on performance but has also kept my feet on the ground if I have done well.
My next really grown up pony was Phinneus Finn, a very strong determined 12.2 Connemara. He was quite a runaway but boy could he jump.
Being run away with on Phinneus Finn at Theddington Hunter Trial
Unfortunately, I only mastered him as I grew out of him. There were numerous other ponies along the way as I would ride my brother’s ponies while he was at boarding school.
Clockwise Snaffles, Nutkin, Winston, Honey and Dinky, Matty and Kerry and Angelique were a few !
Sylvia Stanier LVO
Sylvia Stanier LVO studied at Col Jo Hume Dudgeon OBE MC’s world renowned Riding Establishment in Dublin. Col Dudgeon was the Trainer for the 1948 Equestrian Olympic Games in London. Sylvia stayed with the Dudgeons for 25 years and became Chief Instructress.
She studied Dressage under Einar Schmit-Jensen and the great Nuno Oliveira. Sylvia attended 3 Olympic Games: Japan 1964, Mexico 1968 and Munich 1972. Her Olympics duties were diverse being an under (or ghost) rider and Liason Officer for the USA Equestrian Teams.
Amongst many of her accolades, Sylvia became an International Dressage Judge and is best remembered for her display of long reining at the Horse of the Year Show, Wembley in 1966 with the thoroughbred Le Marquis.
Sylvia at Wembley with Le Marquis 1966, showing a maximum extended trot with perfect Classical integrity
In 1968, Sylvia was appointed the Lady stand-in side-saddle rider for Her Majesty the Queen for Trooping the Colour and held this position until 1986, the year she was presented with the LVO.
Sylvia rode Show Hunters very successfully at the Royal Dublin Society Shows, winning several Championships including LW Show Hunter Championship and Lady Side Saddle Championship.
She is also the Author of 5 books. See here http://www.halebooks.com/results.asp in addition: The Art of Schooling for Dressage, Mrs Houblon’s Side Saddle and Classical Circus Equitation
As you can imagine, Sylvia has had a huge impact on my life and riding, as I lived and kept my horses with her for over 20 years. From so young she inspired me with the Old School Masters of Classical Equitation. I was surrounded with books and photos of beautiful riding in dressage and wonderful images of the classical seat over fences. All unforced harmony.
My very favourite photo of Sylvia. Sylvia on TB gelding Lough Thorn by Even Money, dam by Broadway taken at Burton Hall 1965 the day before winning the Light weight Hunter Championship at the Royal Dublin Society Horse Show
Sylvia also ignited my interest in the significance of bloodlines. Sylvia was very kind and took us to Olympia and Horse of the Year Show where I was inspired by the greats, especially Caroline Bradley. Sylvia took us to Trooping the Colour every year. We were very privileged to stay at the Mews, see all the preparations in the morning and see the Gold Coach up close. This was quite a fairy tale for a young horse-mad girl.
Burmese waiting patiently for The Queen at the Royal Mews during Trooping the Colour
We went to the circus many times and I met Mary Chipperfield. I have always had the greatest admiration for Mary; she has the rare gift of being able to train so many different species of animal.
I read about riding and horsemanship from early on, I am not very well read in any other way! I spent the whole of my school days drawing horses in my rough book and thinking of what I would study when I got home, “I will start a project on the grasses found in hay tonight!” And so it went on.
At 14 I got a weekend job with Caroline Bailey (nee Saunders). I did a lot of yard work and I rode out some of the horses. This was a great experience, being in a big hunting and racing yard in the cold winters of the early 80’s.
I started PC young and did many camps and finally ended up in the PC teams for Dressage, Show Jumping and Eventing.
Our Team at the Burghley PC Show Jumping Challenge Myself, Lucy Underwood, Charlotte Jolly and Sally Underwood who has wandered off somewhere!
I was given my first horse at 13 and he was called Ballyclare, a 16.1 very bad tempered Medium dressage horse that had 21 BE points. He was an excellent schoolmaster for dressage and I learn a feel for tempi changes, half pass and pirouettes.
Me aged 14 on Zac (Ballyclare)
My next horse was The Midas Touch, a wonderful eventing schoolmaster. I won the cup for the highest placed Pytchley PC member at the Area Trials, 2 years in a row on him.
Me on dear Midas winning the PC Open in Oxfordshire
I had a wonderful time in the PC and learnt a huge amount doing my PC tests.
I was amazingly lucky to be sent to Lars Sederholm by my mother. At the age of 14, I was the youngest person to be allowed to train there at that time. Yogi Briesner said no one had ever done flying changes in their assessment lesson!!
I went 2 more times for a week, as that is all we could afford. But what a time that was, being in a boarding school for Riding only – WOW – surrounded by all ages of students from all over the world, their goals either SJ or Eventing. There were always arguments at every meal time about who were the better riders!
Even though I was only there for a week at a time, the lessons were exceptional. On hot days we were made to get up and ride for 5am for the horse’s sake. One chap was late and he was made to do the canter work without his horse! Rigorous, strict and thorough. I still hear Lars’sayings e.g. ‘In balance, forward with alertness and rhythm’.
Introduction to BE Eventing
I competed at my first BE event at 15: I did a 2 day event at Witton Castle, which was amazing.
Midas at Witton
The following year, as Midas had already been on a friendly Junior Team in Boekelo with the previous owner, some bright spark thought I should try for the Junior Teams. So with dreams of representing my country, I was up at 5am every morning getting Midas fit on long rides before school holding a torch in my hand. In those days you had to go straight in at Junior Open Intermediate Trials. There was no Junior Novice and PreNovice (BE100) and Intro (BE90) did not even exist!
My darling horse, although a schoolmaster, was not up to the widths at Intermediate and really did not like Trakehners. This, the previous owners had warned us about, but being young and very determined I had to learn the hard way. Even after a stop at a very large Trakehner and then a jump that landed us in the ditch the far side I still kicked on and completed Weston Park OI Trial.
Midas and I struggling at the last fence at Weston JOIT
I think we did some others but they weren’t happy successful adventures so I guess I have forgotten them. However, he was a superb PC Open horse and won many events. It even got to the point when I would overhear people reading the entries and getting to me and The Midas Touch they would groan, “might as well go home then!” Read Midas’s full story here
‘National Velvet Syndrome’
This was a very brief and now long gone notoriety!! Because from then on I wanted to ride difficult horses – I wanted a challenge. Midas had been wonderful but I found him ridiculously easy – he would just put himself in an outline and calmly do an obedient test and went double clear with very little help from me, he never ran away or stopped while he was in his comfort zone.
So for some reason best known to myself I was determined to make my life as difficult as I could and sort out problem horses. Luckily they were always in our price range!
My ‘National Velvet Syndrome’, a term coined by my husband, knew no bounds. I have learnt a great deal from these horses over the years which now helps me to help others. One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn is ‘however hard you work and train an animal you can only make it as good as it can be, you cannot make it better’.
Bobby Dazzler II
My first real challenge was Bobby Dazzler II. We bought him when I was turning 16 from John Poole. He still holds the ‘horse of my life’ in my heart, as I have never allowed myself to love a horse as much as I loved him. One of my boyfriends once said that he had seen “less love in the best marriages”. The hardest thing about leaving our home in Northamptonshire was leaving his grave and grave stone ‘A Wild Heart’, in the orchard.
Toddy, as he was known, was bought out of a Team chasing home in Cheshire by John Poole. John had been told “’es very good at joompin’ weare, but ‘e ain’t no good at the massaarge”!! True enough, he was never good at ‘massage’(dressage) until I retired him from eventing. He was ‘hot as hell’, strong as anything, wild as a bandicoot and he was everything I had ever dreamed of. At 16 I really did believe I would compete at Badminton by the time I was 18. Of course this was never to be, rather it was youthful enthusiasm and vaguely delusional (something I am still prone to now!) Read Toddy’s full story here soon
Toddy at Wilton OI
Much to the great disappointment of my poor father, who would have loved me to have become a Vet or Doctor, I left school at 16. I just couldn’t wait to spend every waking hour with my horses. I bred my first foal and she arrived during my O levels – oops another distraction.
Morning of an O’level, my first foal is born Optimist
I met my Mother halfway by attending the local Secretarial College for a year. While I was at college I went on work experience, no not to an office but to the colourful character, John Goodwin. There I experienced a very large dealing yard and learnt how to turn out horses to a high standard.
Total horse Freedom
Then total horse freedom. I worked for the Fox-Pitts my 1st winter. This was the run up to Williams first Badminton on Steadfast. This was a treat as even back then William was already a bit of an icon on the Junior circuit! We worked very hard there and lived above the stables with the mice!
The next season I worked for the Sporborg’s private Racing Yard. Living conditions and pay were far superior and they were a wonderful family to work for. Here I learnt a huge amount about work riding, feeding and looking after racehorses and especially how to get tendons fit and keep them sound. While I was here I was fortunate to have a couple of lessons with the late great Dick Stillwell. Again in a few lessons I learnt an enormous amount about how a horse thinks and reacts.
I was honoured that Mr S allowed me to race in the local Point to Point in their Members’ race. His daughter was given the choice of the 2 horses. Eliza very wisely chose Free Flow who had come 2nd in the Pardubice and I rode Lacken Newsflash. Racing was definitely me all over. I absolutely loved it. It was an open country race that finishes over the Point to Point course. As I came onto the course it was me and Eliza. I could hear the crowd roaring my name. I jumped the last fence and got my head down and rode hands and heels. I managed to beat Eliza by a short head, much to her annoyance. Mr S very sweetly said he had never seen anyone ride a finish quite like I did; I like to think it was a compliment! As it was a debut win, I had a lot of press in Horse and Hound and Racing Post. This caused even more annoyance with another sibling, Simon, because I beat him to his first win by an hour!! Of course Simon went on to win over 80 races.
Riding Lacken Newsflash in the Thurlow point to point Members race
Leading up Simon Sporborg on Badger’s Mead
X country Schooling their great Roars of Applause
When I was back at home I worked as a waitress and barmaid a lot and did blocks of work doing 12 hour shifts in food factories to pay for the eventing. At this time I broke and schooled problem horse for people as well as being the rider for breaking in Her Majesty's horses that came up from the Mews to Sylvia for training. My favourite was Joust, again he was a tricky individual. He was later evented by Richard Waygood to ** level.
Her Majesty’s Joust
Clockwise A few of the the others I broke in at the time Sam, Milly, Bracken, Tane and Cindy
I was privileged to ride Sylvia’s Haute Ecole Stallions as well. We also did stud work as Sylvia always had a breeding Stallion on the establishment.
I worked as a Freelance Groom for a couple of years. The years between school and marriage were taken up with bar and factory work, breeding horses, breaking and schooling, retraining racehorses and competing a multitude of my own horses and several of other people's.
Clockwise Crunchie (a client's horse), Moose, Bok and Baby Billy, Wanda, Jazz and Lilly, Topper and Baby Buck were among some of the multitude!
I met my dear Husband because I was a barmaid and he was a barprop! Although I have far from achieved the goals that I set myself on the eventing platform, I have been very lucky in many ways, not least having Tim as a husband. He has supported and encouraged my ‘National Velvet Syndrome’ in a way so few non-horsey husbands would ever do!
We married when I was 24 in Brixworth Church and I had a surprise guest at the Reception. My Mother and Brother organised dear retired Toddy to attend, which was lovely. The funniest thing was that all the guests thought he was some amazing event horse bought by my husband as a wedding gift!!
Toddy comes to approve the proceedings!
Tim and I with his favourite beast!
We moved into a glorious, though very run down, home in Northamptonshire. We had an epic task getting it into working order but after all the hard work it was done. I continued from here to break and school, compete and breed, and teach.
Our home in Northamptonshire, Bunkers Hill, after much tender loving care bringing back to its former glory
Massage and Mary Bromiley
I had for many years massaged my own horses. Massaging first started for me when I was 5, massaging my Mother in Africa when she had terrible headaches due to Hepatitis. This made me seek out the very new ITEC course which Mary Bromiley was running. I had to qualify as a Human Massage Therapist first and I took the ITEC Human Anatomy, Physiology and Massage course at Mary’s establishment under the excellent tutelage of her daughter Rabbit Slattery. I passed the exam with Credit and went straight onto the Equine Sports Massage course with Mary.
Mary Bromiley has also had a huge effect on my life. She is the most extraordinarily intelligent and brilliant physiologist. Yet again I relished the chance to study horses. The knowledge I attained from the anatomy and physiology gave me the missing link to understanding how the horse can learn, accept and carryout (or not) the riders wishes.
During the course, provenance again stepped in and I met Kay Humphries, Specialist Saddle Fitter and Barry Swain, Bespoke Saddler. I have learnt a great deal from both of them and I am so grateful that they so freely gave their knowledge and advice.
I had to save up to afford two saddles made for my horses. I explained to Kay the dilemma I now had: I would have to wait for my new saddles but now knew the damage my old saddles were doing to my horses in the meantime. Kay told me quite frankly to ride them bareback. I was quite speechless for a moment and then explained that my horses were so sharp and difficult that it wasn’t an option.
The family then went to New Mexico for a holiday and my step daughter and I rode out with some North American Indians trail riding. They had much experience and had taken out many a top event rider to teach them how to ‘cross country’. On the last visit the old boy said to me wisely and slowly “you ride as if you are bored, go home and ride bareback”….that was all he said.
Two people saying the same thing and both within a month of each other – somebody was trying to tell me something.
So when I arrived home that is what I did…tentatively! Then away we went until I could jump Murtle, my very sensitive and temperamental 7 year old ex racehorse bareback with no bridle, jumping in wide open spaces at speed. Read Murtle’s full story here soon
Murtle and I bareback, no bridle
I did everything bareback: hacked out for hours, schooled on the flat, show jumped and xcountry schooled youngsters.
Cross country Schooling Sarah for a Client
I even wrote my dissertation for my Equine Massage Exam on the benefits of bareback riding. The only problem I found was I became so comfortable bareback that when I had to compete with a saddle, I felt how much it got in my way. After I passed the ITEC exam with Credit, I started to give lectures for local good causes. During one of these lectures I met a future client and later a dear friend Kerry Weisselberg. Kerry insisted I met and had a lesson from her German Trainer Herr Eberhart Weiss.
Well what can I say! Finally, here was this man who could teach me in an incredibly productive way - how and why. All the years of seeing classical beauty in pictures, all the study of the biomechanics, where all the bones and muscles were and how they worked, came together with perfect sense and natural logic. All the usual frustrations of training a horse dissolved.
Herr Weiss gave me the basic system of natural horsemanship that had been laid down Centuries ago by the great masters. He delivers in a clear, succinct and dogmatic way. There is little praise but for once I found that it wasn’t needed as the reward is greater and more permanent than any verbal affirmation: you feel it and you know it.
I cannot thank Herr Weiss enough for this epiphany. And it is this epiphany I love to give my clients. The joy that comes from seeing them have the realisation that I have had is just brilliant, for the horses too. The horse I took to my first lesson with Herr Weiss had this realisation, “at last, she is riding me in a way that I can understand”. This was palpable; it was like finally speaking to someone in their mother tongue.
The horse I took was Ballylikky (Billy). Billy was one of my homebreds out of Bok who had a dubious temperament and was unsound. But as only I could, I loved her dearly and made the awful British error of breeding from her instead of sending her straight for meat.
Billy was obviously difficult in his mind but he also had poor conformation. He benefitted a great deal from massage to keep him eventing, as many of my horses have. Herr Weiss was the turning point for us on the flat but I had problems with him over fences. He was relatively gutless and would inspect all his fences in front from left to right and thought he could also inspect what was behind them before he took off. Again Kerry had a suggestion, and offered Cally Thomas as a helping hand. Cally is an excellent Show Jumping trainer having trained at Paul Schockemohle’s and was the perfect antidote for Billy and I. Cally didn’t have anything positive to say about Oddyseus offspring but she did turn us both around. I was about to give up at our introduction to Intermediate but with Cally’s help we carried on to ** and we were intending to go Advanced the following year when his conformation caught up with him. His arthritic joints meant that, with great sadness and anguish, I had to put him down. Read Billy’s full story here soon
Me and Billy jumping into the Kidney pool at Weston **
The Equine Sports Massage Association
I became heavily involved with the Equine Sports Massage Association and became its Chairman in 2003, which I held until I stepped down to Company Secretary in the Spring of 2013.
In 2004, ESMA had a stand at Badminton and for that stand I produced several posters that would illustrate to the General Public the movement and the muscles of the horse during different sporting disciplines. These I published later into a spiral bound book as study and revision for horse enthusiasts, practitioners and trainers. See here
ESMA Badminton stand 2004
In 2010 on the day of the Icelandic volcanic eruptions, ESMA had organised a 2 day conference with Professor Jean Marie Denoix DVM, PhD, agrégé, Professor of Veterinary Anatomy and Equine lamenesses, held at the University of Bristol Veterinary College, Langford. This was a most auspicious event, a volcanic eruption all of our own! It was a privilege to meet, talk and listen to the eminent Professor, he is revered by the whole Equine Veterinary Community and is simply an utter genius. He is quite extraordinary in that both sides of his brain are developed equally, he is a superb academic scientist but also a brilliant artist who also has an amazing feel for a horse.
So, in awe we soaked up all he lectured and as Mary had taught us before Jean Marie repeated, “always go back to your anatomy”.
Prof Denoix at ESMA 2010
Gift horse, Injury, Team Chasing and the Main Man!
While I continued to teach people and train horses I built up a flourishing Equine Sports Massage business, working closely with Vets at times. At this time, I was asked to massage a horse, Rise and Shine II, which had just come over from New Zealand to compete at Burghley. After completing the competition, his owner very sadly was not in a position to take him back home with her. Even though she had been offered a lot of money for him, she offered him to me, at a price I could afford, as she loved him dearly and expressed her gratitude for all I had done for him before and during the event.
Soon after I bought him I ruptured my disc very badly and was off the road for a while. This injury has helped me to appreciate much about how nerves and muscles react, in a way you cannot learn from a book or from a client.I intended to compete Tag at a high level but because he was so unusual and I had not trained him myself, I realised I would be quite nervous. This was not a sensation that I was used to, so I thought if I Team Chased the maniac Roo (Rueful Knave) in Opens maybe I would get the chance to experience that emotion!
I bought Roo because when I sat on him he reminded me of Toddy. I tried to event him but it was unsuccessful. A taster of what he was like: he could spot any movement (i.e. someone pointing at him) from a very long way off which would distract him to the point of scarpering in the other direction! Believing he would never make an event horse, I tried to sell him for £1000. But there were no takers, then I tried to give him away, still no one wanted Roo! So, recovering from my disc operation I ventured forth Team chasing. I joined the super team, The Knightly Hatters. Nerves did flow when I sat in my horsebox before my first Open chase as the week before, while I was on holiday, Roo had fallen with Rowan Cope, who held the top amateur jockey at the time. Rowan told me in no uncertain terms that Roo was not an Open horse.
So with very little feeling in one of my legs and with poor proprioception, we took off out of control from the start, we hit the first fence so hard I lost all but 1 of my 4 reins, I was out of control so the reins wouldn’t have been of much use anyway! By the 4th fence I had them back, we completed and I remained a member of the team for that season. The jockeys had a bit of fun with Rowan! Read Roo’s full story here soon
Me on Roo at the Readyfield Bloodhounds Open Team Chase. You can clearly see how my back injury has weakened my legs and therefore my ability to have an independent seat.
In the meantime, I started to compete Tag. He was very idiosyncratic and I never matched the amazing rapport that Michelle had with him. Dear Tag had ‘lost the plot’ on the way over to Luhmuhlen before Burghley and later with me this psychological damage haunted his travelling, he would glaze over and enter a psychotic state where he became totally unsafe to himself, the other horses and humans. It became so bad and dangerous I just had to give him up to a hacking home with no travelling.
Me and Tag at Milton Keynes
Then I had very little to compete, so I thought it would be a scream to event Roo again. He had no problem showing the Dressage judges how expertly he could corner at great speed! Many perplexed Judges later, he became my most successful event horse, not by winnings, but sheer achievement and almost qualified for Advanced via ** qualifications before I wept buckets accepting his retirement due to intermittent lameness.
I have been lecturing for over 15 years for many groups and causes, from lecturing to my fellow ESMA colleagues at our conferences to local charity groups.
All the lectures are very gratifying. One I did for the British Show Pony Society was particularly so, having Judges expressing gratitude for the explanation of how the conformation impacts on the horse’s way of going.
A colleague and I have attending many race meetings, where we paint a racehorse with muscles and bones and give the General Public something great to look at, as well as learn about the physiological and biomechanical aspects of the racing horse, on the flat or over the fences. The public absolutely love this, and we have had many Trainers and Vets express their interest too. At the first Cheltenham Showcase Meeting when we had our painted horse in a pen with the other attractions, it created much traffic and many racehorse owners came up to ask us about ailments their trainers had told them their horses had just acquired.
We lectured on the effects of different ménage surfaces on the horse’s physiology for Martin Collins arena. We lectured in conjunction with many others, including Dr Rachel Murray MA VetMB MS PhD MRCVS Dip ACVS Dip ECVS, an expert in Sports Horse Injuries.
In 2012, I was honoured to be asked by Tim Galer B Vet Med Cert ESM MRCVS and Clare Galer BSc(Hons) ITEC Dip EQ MESMA ITEC Dip HU MIGPP, to do a mounted lecture for the Peasebrook Clinic Official Spa Open Day. I lectured on what to ‘Look for Anatomically, Biomechanically and under saddle when purchasing an Event Horse’. This was great fun and the baby horses did me proud.
Clockwise, Lecturing at Cheltenham, Newbury,Addington and Peasebrook
Moving to the Welsh Marches
When Tim retired, we moved to the Welsh Marches with 5 of my homebred horses as well as Roo. We rented for a long time before we found a property to buy. Again, we had to build, this time for the horses. They now have a lovely open easterly view out of their stable yard and we have a wonderful 20 x 60 arena to train in. It goes without saying that Wales is excellent for fittening horses and the roads are much, much safer than at our previous home.
Roo competed in all his ** since we moved to Wales. Before I retired him, he missed out on his Advanced qualification because of one really appalling test at a CIC. He did a good test at a subsequent CCI but the Event was cancelled due to the death on the cross country of a lovely girl. I had been lucky enough to be touched by her. We first met at Longleat CIC and spent some time together at the CCI. I was the next to go on the XC and was the last to leave the collecting ring back to the stables when we heard the news. I was so moved by this wonderful girl that I have been driven since then to express my thoughts on safety.
When Roo retired I had no horse ready to compete, so very kindly my neighbour lent me her mare Squirrel, who I enjoyed competing very much.
Squirrel at Milton Keynes and Glanusk
I have broken in and competed all my homebreds that I brought with me as well as clients horses. I am sourcing nice young horses from Ireland with the help of my cousin George Brown who lives over there. I also bring some over from the Continent.
Alfie (a client's horse) baby and pip and on the yard Basil and Tin Tin
I have between 6 to 8 horses on the yard at any one time, mostly mine with some room for clients. I produce, compete and occasionally sell nice genuine competition horses of mine or clients. I teach and massage and lecture all over the country (as time permits!!).
Currently I am recovering from a shoulder operation which means my start to this eventing season will be delayed but with a yard of nice young horses I am full of enthusiasm.
With age and injury, I have to work harder than ever on my fitness and suppleness but I am as determined as I was at 16 but with probably a far larger dose of realism!
The only sure way not to achieve your dream is to give it up!