Hi, welcome to my very first nervous blogging attempt! I’m an amateur rider based in the South West, though I seem to have ended up spending loads of my time living out of a suitcase in London hotels. I grew up around horses and ponies (thanks to my wonderful Mum – so many people seem to owe horsey habits to their mums), and had an old showjumping mare in my teens who I eventually took to a few BE events. Even though we were pretty rubbish, I fell in love with the cross country buzz and the amazing friendly atmosphere. University and the first few years of my working life meant that I basically gave up riding properly, but then a couple of years ago Mum decided to buy herself a horse so that she could start riding again after a gap of about 20 years. Mum is wonderfully generous and let me steal him for a bit of eventing fun, and I realised it was the thing that gave me the most fun in life (and also makes my stomach churn in fear, but we’ll try to forget that bit for the moment) and I couldn’t let myself stop riding again. I knew I could never afford a made eventing horse and had resigned myself to scrounging rides from my mum and taking myself for lessons to get my fix for several years yet. But like all best laid plans this went out of the window, and I took the biggest punt of my life when I saw a nice looking youngster advertised and “invested” (if you can ever invest in a horse) my savings in a baby pony.
So, let me introduce you to Lulu! She is a ¾ TB 4yo 16.2 mare and I bought her when she was just two, and she is the first horse I’ve ever properly bought/owned and attempted to produce. She has a ridiculous registered name (Call Me Tallulah Belle – her breeder apparently had a “white trash” themed year!) which will make me wince forever more but I am trying to embrace it. Lu is such a typical mare, she’s mostly adorable, goofy, and cuddly, seems to be pretty brave, often stubborn, and a total queen of the mare glare. She’s also a sensitive soul and a bit physically fragile. I do question my sanity, I wasn’t looking for a horse and any baby is obviously a massive gamble, but I couldn’t resist her, she’s just such a nice type. We lightly backed her at 3 with the help of a talented friend who braved the first sit on. She’s had the winter off (and then most of spring and summer this year when I managed to break both my arms in a riding accident – more on that later). She’s just coming back into work now, and everything little thing is a new challenge. I have a glorious blurry photo (below) of the only time I’ve seen her jump, when she displayed her inner goat over a pole on the ground – safe to say we have a long way to go…
My job means that I have to stay away from home several nights a week which has forced me to plough my paycheck into full livery and I need a lot of help to allow me to pursue my hobby. While it’s always acknowledged that the top riders and sportspeople need a massive team behind them, it’s a quirk of life that even to mess around at the bottom of the pile like I do takes a huge amount of support. So this story will have a full cast of Super Mum, non-horsey very understanding boyfriend, yard owners, grooms, instructors, friends, family, vets, farriers, physios, and various cheeky canines who I hope to pay tribute to as they help me while I attempt to battle crippling nerves, permanent lack of time and practice, attempts not to blow the limited budget, general incompetency, and inexperience with producing a baby horse – and that’s just me, god knows what problems miss Lu will throw at me!
Lulu has been sitting in a field for a couple of years now, but this weekend we have made the first Big Move. Lu and I are moving from Bristol out to Wiltshire and we are installed in a new yard! The main picture is her this weekend in her new house. We have access to a school, and good hacking, and hopefully some new horsey friends to help her face the world. I’m really hoping that this blog will give me some wonderful documented memories, and a chance to look back and see how far we have come when I get hit by the inevitable dark days and moments of self-doubt. I’d like it to help me find some friends in the horse world who might deal with the same challenges, I see lots of wonderful grassroots eventers online who are working full time alongside eventing, but I don’t see too many who have the same nomadic work life I do – I’m sure there must be some out there and I’d love to learn from them. It will be genuine and honest, showing all the ups and the downs that come with horses, especially when they’re young and you’re clueless. And maybe, one day I’ll be able to take Lulu to some BE events and earn her the title of “event horse”. It seems like a long way away when every little walk down the lane is a triumph and something like a bicycle is a pant wetting-ly terrifying experience, so for the moment its one baby step at a time.