Enter what you want to search for and wait for the results, by category, to show below eg. Livery in Herefordshire.
(Hint – Multi-select categories by clicking in the box again )
There is currently an outbreak of equine flu in the UK and Europe which is a highly contagious virus which spreads rapidly with an incubation period of just one to five days. Even vaccinated horses have been affected and racing has been brought to a halt in the UK while the virus is monitored.Symptoms:
- High Temperature of 39-41C (103-106F)
- A clear watery discharge which can turn thicker and green
- Harsh dry cough
- Enlarged glands under the jaw
- Discharge from the eyes and redness
- Filling of the limbs
- Loss of appetite, dullness and depression
Girl meets Horse. Or guy meets horse. Or gender fluid person meets horse. Sorry, but the last two didn’t quite have the punch I wanted for a headline. Besides which, we all know women make up a disproportionately large proportion of the leisure horse sector. Hey – I’m just playing the numbers here. No bias intended.
Whether we’re looking for a human partner-in-crime or an equine one, let’s face it, what it all boils down to is The Bond. And no matter what sector your search is concentrated on, finding that, building that and maintaining it, is what the journey is all about. Both paths are minefields. After all, when it comes to human partnerships, everyone is (usually) on their best behaviour on the first date. That potential squeeze is unlikely to crib on the bar of your local pub. Lack of personal hygiene is not necessarily off-putting with a horse, but highly likely to be a red flag with a human. Horses are unlikely to spend your first meeting engaged in a monologue about themselves which is a big plus in their favour. However, as they cannot answer your questions, you are left having to rely on the honesty of the seller and then your vet. Many is the time I wish my vet had been on hand to give a prospective date a five stage going over before getting further involved however. Rossdales take note: potential new and limitless income stream identified.
When we talk about the ‘bond’ with our horses, I believe this is shorthand for what we all want to achieve: and that is a better relationship. We’ve all seen or possibly even worked with those people who just seem to have a mystical power. Who can form that bond almost instantly with any horse. The man or woman who within minutes of encountering a so-called ‘problem’ horse, has it following them in the round pen like a enraptured puppy or instantly obeying every aid – Buck Brannaman, Guido Louis Leidelmeyer, Stacy Westfall, Lorenzo de Angelis. This isn’t about what gifts they have that we don’t. I want to talk about an aspect of the ‘bond’ that has most people spooked. And that is knowing when the bond actually doesn’t exist between you and your equine partner of choice. And no matter how hard you try, or how much money you spend, or who you consult, it probably won’t. And what to do about it.
Just as we don’t expect to get on with each and every human being we encounter – including that blind date, we should not expect to get on with every horse we meet – or even end up owning, either. If we’re honest, most of us over dating age, have jumped in with an instant attraction – only to regret it further down the track. And most of us will spend less time trying out that new horse than we do lingering over that coffee or glass of wine with that latest love prospect. The first horse I went to see on my search for an equine partner – a 16.3, 12 year old schoolmaster, showed me quite categorically he was not the one for me by kicking me hard in the small of the back as I led him out of his paddock. Direct, painful and to the point. If he didn’t like me on the ground, there was no way he was going to like me riding him. He saved us both a lot of wasted time, money and unhappiness. Others have not been so lucky.
If you’ve ever faced the ‘Should I stay or should I go’ dilemma with a human partner – and you chose the latter, chances are you never once said in retrospect ‘I left way too soon’. It’s usually the opposite. We cling on longer than those bony headed guys in Star Trek. Same goes for horses. Knowing when to leave is something women especially have a hard time arriving at. So, if you feel you are stuck in a toxic relationship with your horse, when every ride or interaction is ending in frustration, fear and even tears, when do we know when to let go and when it’s worth persevering?
All arguments in human interaction stem from one of two questions: How much do you love me? and Who is in charge? It’s no different between you and your horse. However, the question with horses very often is the who is in charge one. You or the horse? The argument itself will come about via just three scenarios. 1: You are over-horsed and the horse does not match your skill level. As a result you sit there certain you are going to die on every ride. You are certainly not in charge. As Guido Louise Leidelmeyer tells us: You are not just the horse’s leader – you are its protector. It never occurs to the horse it is him you are terrified of. All it picks up from you is there is something to be scared of. The two of you are now trapped in a self-perpetuating downward spiral, where the more nervous you get, the more the horse acts in a way to make you nervous. And so on.
Scenario 2: The horse is just not doing what you ask and you end every interaction frustrated and wondering what you are doing wrong.
Scenario 3: Unrequited equine love. You and the horse are mismatched in terms of your personalities. This is actually ‘How much do you love me?’ You’re doing everything right, but it’s as if you are in a one-sided relationship. You do the giving, not much is coming back.
No matter your situation, there are ways to solve this but first you are going to have to let go of two things. The first, comparing your riding journey to other people’s and the second – your ego. Egos are tricky things and they have no place around horses. It is usually our egos which most get us into trouble with our equine companions. Letting go of it allows us to move into a place of openness, learning and non-attachment. This then frees us to obtain the right outcome for both us – and our horse.
If you are experiencing Scenario 1, be open and honest about the fact your chosen horse is right now, not the right match for your riding skills or perhaps even what you want to be doing. Riding your horse is supposed to be fun – not a white-knuckle rollercoaster. Step back and look holistically at your relationship. Are you confident handling your horse on the ground? If so, this is literally where you build your relationship – from the ground up. Spend time with your horse, try liberty work. Find yourself a good instructor and be honest about the problems you are having. Don’t be afraid to interview several to find the right one for you. Also know that even the most experienced rider has had confidence issues at one time or another. You are not alone. Understand that bonding together is going to take a lot of time, work and money. However, if you are also having problems with your horse on the ground as well as riding – say the horse has become bargy or is showing signs of aggression; it may be time to quit while you are ahead. Again, let go of the ego and be open to professional feedback. Also, look closely at what it is you really want to do with your horse. If your focus is hacking with perhaps some low level showing or dressage, is that 16.3, five year old warmblood really your best partner in crime? Or even if your ultimate aim is Prix St.George, based on your present skillset, is this the horse you need right now to get you there?
You’re asking but the horse isn’t responding and you’re ending every ride angry, frustrated and wondering what you are doing wrong. Women especially see failing to communicate or being understood as a failure at relating. You’re battling both those key questions with this one – the who is in charge and the how much do you love me? Those feelings of frustration, anger and the resulting tears are actually not directed at your horse, but at you. The big, fat failure. The fraud. The bad rider. Consider your horse does not understand what you are asking for – yet. You are lost in translation. What’s its history? Do you have reason to suspect the seller may have not been honest about what the horse has done? It may not be you, but simple lack of training/experience. Or the horse has been trained in a different way and simply is confused by what you are asking it to do? One extreme example of this I came across was a highly bred and expensively imported PRE from Spain who was deemed a ‘problem’ horse and unrideable. The horse was passed from pillar to post until it ended up in a dealer’s yard. Due to be shot, it was saved at the last moment when a Spanish-trained rider turned up, saddled it up in Spanish tack and to the amazement of everyone watching, the horse did not put a foot wrong. Simply put, they spoke the same language. Find the trainer that can translate what you are saying for your horse or teach you to speak in its language. There are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions in life – or with horses. What worked with other horses simply doesn’t with this one. Again, don’t let your ego get in the way of taking a fresh approach – or forming what could be a wonderful partnership. Also, if all else fails, consider the fact that the horse simply isn’t cut out for what you want it to do. Every year thousands of racehorses seek homes because while they are thoroughbreds, this does not necessarily make them racehorses. No amount of training, feeding or force, will get them first past the post. The same goes for any other horse bred for any other discipline. Not every person from Kenya is a marathon runner. Yes, you may have thought you were buying an eventer, but the horse clearly isn’t cut out for it – or happy. So, either change your own focus or let the horse go to the home with the right one.
Finally, it’s purely and simply a personality clash. You just cannot click. You are from Venus and the horse may as well be from a galaxy far, far away. It’s a chemistry thing and often has nothing to do with your level of experience. Even the most seasoned horseman or woman can make a mistake. I have seen this one happen usually when the horse is purchased at a time when the buyer is in a heightened emotional state. You lost your beloved horse and will do anything to assuage the pain. You’ve suffered a human relationship breakdown and want something to love. You’ve given birth and want to get riding again. And now it has all gone horribly wrong. Your timing is off. Out of all three scenarios, this is the one where letting go rather than persisting, is probably going to be best for both of you. No, you are not a failure. You are committing an act of self-love, love for the horse and sanity. Because here it is: one person’s frog is another person’s Prince or Princess Charming. One person’s pantomime horse is another’s Valegro. The horse you cannot connect with no matter how hard you try, is that other rider’s slice of instant and long lasting karma.
If you come to the conclusion you are better off parting, please be honest about any issues you have had with the horse but frame these in a positive way. ‘S/he has taught me so much about my riding and horsemanship’ allows you to come from a place of learning, integrity and also goes a long way to ensuring that the cycle will not repeat with the horse and its new owner – and neither will you with your next equine partner.
The ‘bond’ – that elusive, mystical Avatar-like connection we are all seeking, like every kind of relationship, takes work. There simply are no short cuts with human beings or with anything as complicated as non-verbal communicators like horses. We’ve all met the ‘serial’ horse owner who appears to expect horses to be pretty much like cars – start, point and drive, and who discards the horse at the first sign of needing to put in some work. I am not for one minute advocating we become like this. Just that we talk about what we can do when things don’t work out and that ‘bond’ doesn’t magically appear without anyone feeling guilty or that they have failed. Horses that make us reach deep within ourselves, and make us discover what we are capable of, can turn in to our horse of a lifetime. It’s knowing the difference between these – when it is time to stay and define ourselves as human beings and as riders, and when it is time to let go, that allows both parties to move into a partnership that works – no matter what the ultimate outcome is.
Written by Helen Watts firstname.lastname@example.orgEditor's note: Hereford Equestrian recommends that you always ride wearing a hat. It is highly dangerous to ride without a hat with a significantly raised risk of head injury.
You can change around the schooling with poles, or if your horse needs more x-country schooling you can add it in. Also, if you like you can add some fast work to the cross country. It all depends on your horse and what you need to work on, some horses need more flat work training, and some need a little more jumping.
Also, some people give their horses Sunday off and work through the week. It is all up to the time you have available and which day is better for your life and work. It is better to start with a ride out and then add the stronger work in as it can give a horse chance to get his work in. Also, only jump a couple of times a week and only do fast work two times a week, giving your horse either the day off after or a 20 min school and 40 min ride out.
If you horse is dressage horse, or a show jumping horse, you might find that you do not need to do so much fast work and you can adapt the training sessions to include more pole work and different exercises. Remember, every horse is an individual and working with them to see what makes a happy healthy horse is what is primally important.
|1||Day Off||Road work 20 – 25mins.||Road work 20 – 25mins.||Road work 25 mins.||Road work 25mins.||Road work 30 mins.||Road work 30 mins.|
|2||Day Off||Road work 30 mins||Road work 30 mins||Road work 40 mins||Road work 40 mins||Road work 45 mins||Road work 50 mins.|
|3||Day off||Road work and uphill work in walk 50 mins||Road work and uphill work in walk 50 mins||Road work and uphill work in walk 55 mins||Road work and uphill work in walk 55 mins||Road work and uphill work in walk 60 mins||Road work and uphill work in walk 60 mins|
|4 If you have been riding your horse for 3 – 4 times a week at mainly walk you can start here.||Day off||Road work and up hill work in walk 60 mins. Start building up trot to 2 mins.||Road work and uphill work in walk 60 mins. Start building up trot to 2 mins.||Road work and uphill work in walk 60 mins. Start building up trot to 2 mins.||Road work and uphill work in walk 60 mins. Start building up trot to 2 mins.||Road work and uphill work in walk 60 mins. Start building up trot to 2 mins at a time.||Road work and uphill work in walk 60 mins. Start building up trot to 2 mins.|
|5||Day off||Road work and up hill work in walk 60 mins. Start building up trot to 3 or 4 mins||Introduce 20mins schooling and 40 mins ride out.||Ride out at 60 mins including trot sections of up to 3 – 4 mins.||20mins schooling and 40 mins ride out.||Ride out to 60 mins including trot building the trot sections up||Ride out 30 mins, school 20mins and 10 mins cool down|
|6||Day off||One hour ride out with bursts of trot and canter.||20 mins schooling and 40 mins ride out.||One hour ride out with work trotting and cantering up hill||15 min warm up, 15 min grid work and 30 min ride out||30 min ride out, 20 min schooling and 10 min cool off.||One hour ride out including work in trot and canter up hills.|
|7||Day off||One hour ride out increasing hill work in trot and canter||20 min schooling and 40 mins ride out.||One hour ride out increasing trot and canter work.||10 mins warm up, 20 mins grid or jumping work and ride out for 30 mins||30 mins ride out, 20 mins schooling and 10 mins cool off||One hour ride out, with trot and canter up hill.|
|8||Day off||One hour ride out, start slow canters over undulating ground.||20 mins schooling and 40 mins ride out.||One hour ride out increasing work on the hills||Ride out and some jumping or grid work.||20 mins schooling and 40 mins ride out.||Ride out with more hill work and slow canters up to 4 mins.|
|9 If a horse has been out at different disciplines over the winter start here.||Day off.||Ride out with up to 3 – 4 min canters||20 min schooling our jumping and 40 min ride out.||Evening dressage and our combined training.||Schooling or jumping depending on what you did yesterday and ride out||Ride out with stronger canters up to 4 mins.||One hour ride out with trot and canter.|
|10||Day off||Ride out with hills and trot and canter||20 mins schooling and ride out for 40 mins.||Cross country schooling||Schooling 20 mins and ride out for 40 mins||Ride out with a stronger canter up hills.||Ride out with trots and canters over undulating ground.|
|11||Day off||Ride out with hills, strong trots and canters.||20 mins schooling / or jumping and 40 mins ride out.||Evening competition, dressage or jumping.||20 mins schooling and ride out with hills.||Ride out with faster canters ¾ speed. Into the bridle.||20 mins school and 40 mins ride out.|
|12||Day off||Ride out with canters up hill ¾ speed.||20 mins schooling and ride out for 40 mins.||Possible evening competition or jumping.||20 mins schooling and 40 mins ride out.||First 80 m or 90 m eventing competition.||Day off and check tendons and legs.|
As usual preparations for Badminton Horse Trials, in their 28th and final year under the record breaking sponsorship of Mitsubishi Motors, are well underway. This may be the 70th anniversary of the first competition but innovations are made with each running.
The Event is now providing an E Ticketing service which should speed up entry to the showground and admission can be bought right up to the day of the event (1st May-5th May).
Entries for the Trials are expected from the victorious British world champion squad and the usual contingent of the cream of the rest of the globe.
For spectators, who turned up in unprecedented numbers in 2018 there are further enhancements. The popular Lakeside area has been revitalised along with the Members and Deli enclosures and the 2018 newcomer to the burgeoning shopping village, The World of Food and Wine is expanded.
The camp site, which now has over 1,300 pitches is complemented just up the road in 2019 by a Glamping field as often seen habituated by the A listers at big music events. This will certainly lend extra style to the Badminton experience.
After a successful premiere in 2018 the fans will be able to submit questions to the top three riders each day on a stage by the Media Centre.
For the very knowledgeable, Badminton has, along with the five other top Events of its type, had its rating upgraded by the international federation the FEI from 4* to 5*, though for practical purposes this will have no effect on Eric Winter’s course, of which he has been the designer for the past two years. Badminton remains the dream of riders the world over.
As ever festivities kick off with the amateurs’ championships the Mitsubishi Motors Cup on the Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Box Office opened to existing customers earlier this week and the ticketing kiosk will be available to all comers on Monday 14th January.
Getting ready for the lighter Evenings.It is difficult to keep motivated at this time of year. The weather is damp, cold and the nights are drawn out. Mud is the horse owners’ best friend and everything you touch seems to have mud on it. Below we have 5 points to help you get through the darker damp days. We take comfort in the fact that it is only 8 days to the shortest day [Editors note: this post was written in December 2018] and then the evenings will be getting lighter. For some reason, this year horses have grown their coats thicker and clipping has been a lot more necessary. We are thinking about Christmas just around the corner and then the new season will pull us along and allow us to get going. Quite a few competition horses will be having a rest, the hunters will be out and about and other horses and ponies will be ticking along and keeping their hoof in work. Dressage and jumping horses will still be out and about, with hopefully several qualifying for different regional finals and second rounds. The thoroughbred mares will be starting to get ready for their foals not long after the beginning of January next year. Things used to calm down around Christmas time, but now several of the equestrian sports have a small break and keep going. With a wider group of owners and riders, there are longer seasons and not all horses get such a long break. It depends on the sport but some, like the event horses, manage a break at this time of year. It all depends on the owners and riders and the different sports they are involved with. So, whilst some are having a slower time now, other horses and ponies are getting ready for the Christmas holidays and children home from school. If you are thinking of getting your event horse fit for the beginning of the event season you might be looking at starting before Christmas if your horse needs to be fit for earlier events and the weather could hinder you. If you are just ticking along it is a time of year where you can try and keep your horse or pony going with four or five riding sessions a week. Some of these could be a lunging session and if possible, a ride out at the weekend or a day in the week you are around in the daylight. If you have to stay in the school, working over poles on the ground, flat work, grid work, and jumping can be different ideas through the week Whichever you decide to do, keeping it different allows the horse not to get stale and he or she will be happier. Spending some time working the horse or pony from the ground also helps and allows you to get a better bond with your horse. Remember to 'be seen and be safe' when you are out and about, it is amazing how the weather can change. Also, do not be hard on yourself, it’s is very easy for us to be negative when we are tired and it’s dark all the time. Here are some points to remember:
- Give yourself time to get ready in the damper, wet and muddy weather. It’s not great getting out of bed on a cold, wet, damp or frosty morning but, if you allow yourself time you will be able to get to your horses and ponies and get the mucking out done and the fields checked. If you get into a good routine, you can get things organised and working for you.
- If possible, change around your schooling and riding, so that your horse doesn’t get bored and remains happy and enjoying his or her work. It is a good time of year to have a coach or trainer to help you with different ideas on your schooling or training. You don’t have to have a lesson each week, you can have a session once a fortnight or once a month. This will give you different goals to work towards and allow you to have someone that will be able to help with different ideas on training. i.e. exercises you can use, possibly using poles with your flat work to add a different aspect to your work.
- If riding out, make sure you have some fluorescent and reflective kit on. The British Horse Society (BHS) has been able to get equestrians recognised as vulnerable road uses in the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS). If you are riding out it doesn’t take a couple of seconds to put a fluorescent tabard on so you can be seen. We tend to ride in dark colours and they can’t be seen against hedges and trees on the road.
- If possible, give your horse a chance to dry out and check legs for lumps and bumps in the daylight. Try to get your horses out of the field and somewhere light and dry so you can check them over every day. At this time of year some owners have to see their horses first thing in the morning and after work. Make sure you have an area to check over their legs and body, with a torch if necessary and double check for lumps, bumps and cuts. The light at this time of year isn’t always great so be vigilant.
- Enjoy yourself! the nights will soon be lighter.
Looking for Mr. Ride - Is the Perfect Horse as Elusive as the Perfect Man? by Helen Watts
Although everything that follows is true, some names have been changed to protect the identity of the horses.
Back in the Saddle
‘Get back on the horse and do it again.’
Mortified and miserable I clamber to my feet. Cheeks flaming, but thankfully concealed by my cheap, ill-fitting jodhpurs, I dust myself off. A few feet away the ever patient Ronnie waits, having come to a stop the moment he realised we had parted company. I gather up his reins and pull myself back into the saddle and he throws me a look reserved for those united in joint misery. He’s not enjoying this any more than I am. I cluck him on, and as he makes the transition from walk to a trot at the far end of the indoor school, I turn him to line him up at the centre of the double cavaletti that just caused my downfall. As his stride lengthens my equally badly fitting hat slips down over my nose in a series of pixilated hops in prefect sync to my rising trot. I shove the hat up and my bottom down, pushing Ronnie into a canter. As he gathers himself for the jump, I send up a silent prayer. Please, please, this time let me stay on. Please, please, this time let me do it right. Please, please God, don’t let me land on my butt trying to impress the only man I’ve ever loved. I am ten years old.
‘You’ve got to get back on the horse and go for it again.’
I’ve just spend months mired in heartbreak following my latest tumble into the romantic equivalent of Beecher’s Brook having fallen for an emotionally unavailable man who over the course of several months managed to persuade me and most people who knew us, that there was more to come without ever having to give anything away. Having dated but not actually been in love for several years, this was a Grand National romance and I fell and fell hard. The resulting impact would have seen me carried by stretcher off the course and in traction for several months afterwards. I am forty five years old.
Emily hands me a coffee. I’m sitting in her happily chaotic house, ruled by its four legged occupants – her two lurchers, three cats, several chickens and constant procession of rescued hedgehogs, all of whom view its human inhabitants as mere purveyors of food, treats or walks depending upon their persuasion. Emily and her menagerie are straight out of a Jilly Cooper novel, except this isn’t the Cotswolds – this is Newmarket. Horse central.
Emily is right. Since my run-in with Hazmat as he came to be known, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Of men in general and my own relationship to them in particular. It’s hardly been a Happily Ever After. More like a permanent ‘Once Upon a Time’. And not a very good time at that. Maybe it’s time to own that and return to my first love. If you fall off the horse, the only way to get over it is to get right back up there again. No matter how much time you spend in traction in between.
‘I am,’ I declare. ‘I’m buying one.’
‘Kick him on.’
‘Make him do what he’s told.’
The miserable hour-long riding lessons of my childhood were peppered with this kind of advice. The horse it appeared was an ill-tempered, stubborn and contrary beast who constantly needed to be reminded of its place (beneath me), by application of heels, harsh commands and whip. Each weekend I spent sixty interminable minutes and ten pounds of my parent’s money, walking, trotting, cantering and usually falling off Ronnie, a rock solid bay schoolmaster, in the indoor ring of a riding school just outside of Brighton. The best moments came when Giles my riding instructor, he of the Hugh Grant hair, perfect bottom and object of my pre-pubescent affections, abandoned me to pop outside for a fag/flirt break with one of the many sylph-thighed girls who frequented the school. Their jodhpurs fitted. What’s more they could stay on their horses. Funny thing was – so could I when Giles wasn’t around.
Despite my badgering my parents for them for months, I hated my riding lessons. I loved/hated Giles, alternating between feelings of jealousy and relief whenever he would stride from the ring, usually with a sigh of exasperation or a comment: ‘You’re just not making any progress, Helen.’ My insides would knot with a combination of humiliation and hopeless longing as I imagined him outside, sharing tales of my terminal lack of even basic horsemanship with some baby-bottomed, perfectly kitted out equestrienne. This was usually fast replaced by an upsurge of relief I was finally alone to just ‘be’ how I wanted to be with the horse, a change Ronnie would instantly reflect by putting his ears forward and picking up his pacing.
I loved horses. I wanted to learn to ride and ride well more than anything else. I had no idea how things had gone so badly wrong; a feeling I was to experience again and again throughout my adult life as I stumbled from one ill-stared romance to another.
‘I’m giving up men,’ I explain to Emily. ‘I’m returning to my first, true love and true love lasts a lifetime. A horse is a far better prospect than a man. Think about it. A horse is never going to tell you he’s been seeing other riders behind your back. Or that he’s leaving you because they not only understand him, but are younger and have a smaller bottom than you,’ I pontificate in Emily’s kitchen.
‘Well, he may well have been seeing other riders but chances are you know about it. I personally don’t mind if my best friend rides my horse. However, I’d have something to say about it if I caught her riding my man.’
‘And you know what it’s like out there,’ I continue. ‘Middle-aged horses don’t lose their hair and gain a beer belly but delude themselves into thinking they’re still attractive.’
At this Emily snorts derisively. ‘Like you’d know about men who are fat and balding, Ms. Cougar Town.’ It’s true. Hazmat was ten years my junior and there have been those who have been younger still.
‘I don’t go looking for them – they’re the only ones who ask,’ I point out in my defence. Emily rolls her eyes. ‘And,’ I add warming to my subject, ‘if your horse has been in a previous relationship with another rider, when they split up he didn’t have to hand her the stable in the divorce settlement or keep paying maintenance on his foals.’
‘You’ve really put a lot of thought into this, haven’t you? You really do have way too much time on your hands. You definitely need either a horse or a boyfriend. Or both. So what is it you’re looking for?’
Good question. I may not have been able to find myself a man but I know exactly what I’m looking for and need in a horse. Mare or gelding between 14.2-15.2hh. Maybe at a push 15.3, but certainly nothing over 16 hands and absolutely no stallions. Under any circumstances. Sensible but not a plodder. I may be coming back to riding after a break, but I certainly don’t need a novice ride. Besides, there are all those gallops around here vacant after 1pm. It would be nice to open up the throttle occasionally even if most of the time all I want to do is hack out. Forgiving. Kind. After so many years out of the saddle I’m going to make some mistakes at the start of the relationship, and I want a horse who won’t hold that against me. Then there’s my health. I have advanced endometriosis which results in excruciatingly painful attacks which give no warning of their onset. If I have one while riding I’ll change from rider to passenger in an instant and while I’ll be able to point the horse in the right direction it’s then going to be up to him or her to get us both home. So, add smarts, reliability and the ability to take charge when required yet relinquish it without it becoming a battle of wills.
In terms of qualities, I’ve just described my perfect man. But this isn’t about the search for the perfect mate but the perfect horse. Or at least the perfect horse for me.
‘That shouldn’t be too hard. Unlike men – 98% of horses are nice.’
If you take a fall you need to get back on the horse. Which begs the question: Can a woman of a ‘certain age’ get back in the saddle again? One thing I did know - I was up for commitment. Honest and faithful right up to the end. The four legged kind that never lets you down. In the words of the David Christie song: ‘Check out of Heartbreak Hotel, saddle up your horse and ride like hell!’ My search for my ideal partner – and not necessarily one with two legs, had begun.
Ceri Belli was joint runner-up, read her blog piece here Sam Goss was the other runner-up and you can read her educational article here
The huge undertaking of building a new point-to-point course and applying for an early fixture unfortunately did not attract a huge entry for Leominster Races at Eaton Hall this Saturday (24th) but most who have entered are expected to run, and a good day’s sport is anticipated.
The flat, oval circuit fitting snugly between the A49 Leominster by-pass and the River Lugg is well-established river-meadow turf and should be a joy to gallop on. There are 3 fences in each straight, jumped 3 times in all races but the two-and-a-half mile ‘Young Horse’ Maiden.
The 7-race card begins at 11.30 am with a Members Race, with Wychwoods Brook as one of the 3 runners, trained by Vici Morse (nee Price), whose father, Richard, trained Flakey Dove to win the 1994 Champion Hurdle on the very turf that the races will be run on.
The Mixed Open will be the Feature Race of the day, with 10 classy entries. Champions of last season, Phillip Rowley and Alex Edwards will be hoping to get an early victory on the board with Bears Affair, but Claire Hardwick’s Western Diva may well be suited by the course, while Heidi Brookshaw’s Ballyrath is wonderfully consistent.
Martin Oliver’s ex-Irish five year-old, Cavs Girl, trained by Max Young, looks the pick of the 3 entered for The Jockey Club Mares & Fillies Open Maiden as she has the most experience.
Due to the convenient position of the Eaton Hall course (HR6 0NA) at the junction of the A44 and A49, just outside Leominster, a decent crowd is predicted for this inaugural fixture. Entrance to the course is £10 per person, under 16’s and car parking free.
There will also be a schooling session at the course on Sunday morning (25th) between 10 am -12pm at £30 per horse.
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