I’ve always loved animals too, especially horses, dogs and cats. I was lucky enough to get some riding lessons when I was about nine years old and then the BEST news – friends of my parents said I could ride their old pony Archie as their son wasn’t interested. I had a pony! Dear Archie had taught a few kids to ride over the years and at the age of 27 when I started riding him, he knew a few tricks. Going ‘lame’ at my first-ever Pony Club rally meant he could graze rather than trot circles with me bumping on his back. Funny how he trotted home perfectly sound! He was great fun though, kind and patient, just what ten-year-old me needed. I even won a ribbon or two at Pony Club events.
Then came Tontouta, a pretty 13.2hh, recently broken-in gelding bred by the same people who let me ride Archie. In all honesty, a four-year-old pony and a 12-year-old still relatively novice rider wasn’t the best mix, but I was so very lucky to have my parents buy me a pony. I must have learned quite a bit in the next couple of years, but needed a bigger pony when I suddenly got taller.
Another friend of my parents knew of an excellent hunting pony and felt Trixie would be great for me to build my confidence. The first time I mounted the 14.2hh skewbald, she went backwards into the stable and belted my head on the roof! After a while we learned to get on fine and, looking back now, I’m still amazed at myself for galloping up and down hills, jumping full wire fences and just being so brave! There was no stopping Trixie when she got going – she was an amazing pony and we even won the intermediate class of a one day event – my one big riding achievement, because I wasn’t really that competitive…
Several years later, after university and working in a good job, I was able to buy myself a horse for the very first time. And Sian was, apparently, an Anglo-Arab – all my dreams came true. I loved that bay gelding – he was a gentle guy who didn’t have much experience with anything. I sent him away to trainers to learn to float and get shoes on. I don’t know how I managed to ride as much as I did around working full-time, seeing friends, etc, but somehow it worked. It was a very difficult decision when it came time to sell him – I was going overseas and I didn’t know when I’d be back, so finding him the best possible home was the only option. Watching other people ride him – one guy getting Sian to do the most beautiful extended trot – showed me that Sian and I came a long way in those couple of years together. He went to a big farm beside a beach and I hope he had a great life there.