I was really, and very pleasantly, surprised to wake up this morning to find I am a finalist in The Equestrian Blogger of the Year Awards 2018.
I started writing a blog mainly because I love writing. At school I was definitely steered down the maths and science route, I have a science degree and I happily confess to a very real fascination with statistics and a love of graphs. But I do love to write, my father was a great storyteller - instead of reading a bedtime story he would tell us a history story - and maybe this was the start. I used to love writing letters, and when I was away backpacking in India and the Far East I would have two of those lovely blue aerogrammes on the go: one for my family and one for Mark. Every day I would jot down my news, and impressions of the sights and sounds in my day, and when the lovely, crinkly, blue aerogramme was full I would post it and start the next one. In every new town my first visit was to the post office to pick up my mail from the Post Restante box. Sadly those days are gone, email is great - but those letters with news that was a fortnight old were so exciting, and my only contact with home for three months.
My second reason for blogging was to show what a perfectly ordinary middle-aged woman could achieve at least some of her dreams. Before we were grown-ups, girl friends, wives and mothers we were all girls with dreams. In the gap between child-rearing and old age I wanted to try to pursue my dream of being a proper rider.
Obviously I’ve needed a great deal of help with this journey. Firstly from Mark who has willingly and mostly smilingly come along for the ride, and from Anna and Sophie who spent quite a lot of their formative years not only riding, but also living in pretty basic lorries and tents, and who know a great deal more about public showers than most of their contemporaries. Secondly to those who have made the dream real. Jo Marsh-Smith taught me how to give horses a great start on the flat, and to treat each one as an individual, and guided my return to competitive riding, and pushed it forward. Then I when I switched from Eventing to show jumping I went for a lesson with Shane Breen. I was so inspired by that first lesson that Shane has been stuck with this slightly ancient and temperamental pupil for 12 years. The journey has been literally incredible, I don’t think anyone else would have helped me, and pushed me so much, or have made me believe I could actually do it. Shane will always be top of my list for advice, but he is so busy now and going to the best shows in the world. David Simpson, who worked for Shane for seven years has bravely taken me on now - so watch this space. I have a great team at home with Steff and Camilla, and great professional help from Cinder Hill Veterinary Clinic & Sussex Equine Hospital, fabulous farriers in the Casserly’s, a great equine chiropractor in Caitlin McCaffery and very generous sponsors: Saracen Horse Feeds, MacWet Gloves and Just Equine, and help from Horse Pilot
Without the horses there would have been no journey. I’ve been incredibly lucky to ride some lovely horses, but the two stand-outs are Mossfort, who gave me my first taste of international competition, albeit in eventing, and Doonaveeragh Emma, who is my horse of a lifetime. She came to me as an unbroken three year old and she has been brave, honest, kind, competitive and so forgiving. I have some lovely younger horses to ride and hopefully the future looks exciting.
It’s been great fun, and seriously hard work, and I’ve been incredibly lucky in many ways. In all sports there are many more lows than highs, but I would do it all, and more again anytime.
Thank you all for reading,