My Passion

It is every little girl’s dream to own a pony, but living in the centre of York above the family furniture shop, there seemed little hope of me ever progressing from giving carrots to the Theatre Royal’s pantomime Shetland ponies.

After much nagging and incessant begging my mum relented and began the weekly bus ride out to our local stables on the outskirts of York. I soon realised that two days relentless work at the stable yard qualified me for a free ride and nothing could stop me now.

This proved to be my introduction to RDA (riding for the disabled). Thirty sets of tack and lots of RDA ponies to groom kept me busy until university.

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Whilst studying management sciences for four years at Loughborough, my small stature and slight student build meant that I was perfect for breaking ponies.

Returning from university, my mum introduced me to her friend Pauline Wood. Pauline was breaking a troublesome mare called Lucky Tigger (Tich).

Pauline was my guru and heroine. She made me push the boundaries, encouraged when encouragement was due but never held back on the criticism and could do better.

Tich, the first-ever horse I owned, taught me everything from the joyous winner’s enclosure to how to not fall correctly, as we worked our way through riding club competitions to affiliated eventing and dressage. Three years ago, I decided Tich and I should try something new and we embarked on a new discipline of the art of the side saddle.

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This year the pressure has been on as both Mum and Pauline have sadly died. But we have coped with winners cups including the national showing show at Aintree in July and the side saddle championships at Addington Manor in Buckinghamshire.

We have also had successful demonstrations this year at the Great Yorkshire Show and the European Young Eventing Championships at Bishop Burton, jumping to “cotton eyed Joe” being Tich’s highlight.

Now the hunting season is underway, so we are to be found enjoying the thrill of the stubble field.