I’ve ridden horses since I was 11 and, like many little girls, I imagined that it would be my career but when I went to university riding had to left behind.
In 2005 I started my first company, a design and print business, and it wasn’t until 2010 that I even considered that I might get back into riding.
Business was tough in general and my work-life balance was totally out of kilter. A passing comment at a networking meeting, “Why don’t you get back into riding?” gave me the kick up the backside I needed. I realised that there was nothing stopping me apart from myself.
After getting back up to speed with my riding, I decided to take the plunge and buy my own horse but I wanted a challenge. I’ve always wanted to compete at British eventing.
Eventing consists of a three-phase competition – dressage, showjumping and cross country – and is generally regarded as one of the most challenging equestrian sports. Amateurs and professionals compete in the same classes, which consist of between 25 and 45 competitors per section. There’s little margin for error with near perfect performance needed to get placed.
Rather than buy a ‘ready-made’ eventer, I opted for a younger horse. Alfie is an Irish sports horse, bred for the sport with a bold and brave attitude. I have, with the help of various coaches, trained Alfie up in each discipline and we have been competing for the last year.
However, we have improved and grown together and this year we have really started to build a partnership. I was pleased to finally get fifth place at Shelford Manor in May and absolutely over the moon to win my class at Frickley Park Horse Trials in September.
Running a business and training a horse for competition is extremely time consuming but each one supports the other in a lot of ways. The challenge of training Alfie gives me ‘time out’ from my business whilst also being my motivation to drive the business forward. I also do a lot of planning, brainstorming and thinking whilst mucking out or hacking.
I’m fulfilling a lifelong dream and I wouldn’t change it for the world.