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I’ve always loved horses and had my first lesson booked when I was 4 and a half, but when I turned up the 11hh pony was huge and I was terrified! I didn’t get on and we went home, but the passion and dream didn’t go away and I was back 6 months later to try again. I got on that time and the rest you could say is history.
Despite being a proper grown up now, I have never lost my love of just spending time with my horse, constantly learning and always trying to improve. I went from a very hyper, spooky, dramatic Connie x TB who was with me for 25 years, to a very talented and athletic, but accident prone ISH. Over the 3 years I owned him I think he was in work for 10 months at the most and it culminated in 11 months of box rest and heartbreak.
Now, my over-height grey (I never wanted a grey!) Connemara, Rock, and I compete in most unaffiliated disciplines, with the aim of one day managing a BE event (if he can ever find his brave pants for solo cross country). I’ve owned him for 3.5 years, taking a just backed, weak, narrow, wobbly 4 year old who “sometimes forgets to go forward” and had zero work ethic, to a talented, power house who is a reluctant star and loves nothing more than to canter on grass, roll (obviously, he’s grey), snooze and eat.
If we lived down South, Rock would be an amazing team chaser or hunter as he’ll jump anything in company but I’m still trying to convince him it’s just as much fun on your own! The first 4 or 5 cross country jumps are fine as he thinks it’s a training day and we’ll loop back and join the other horses, and the last 4 or 5 are amazing when he finds his cross-country canter and gallops back to his “friends”. The rest in the middle are still a bit too trotty, trotty, pop, pop, and need a lot more work.
If my younger self heard me now saying “I quite like dressage too” she would be absolutely disgusted, but I do. I’ve loved the progression of teaching a young horse how to enjoy this flatwork, and reading a dressage score sheet can become slightly addictive as even though you don’t love it you know you could have done better, and suddenly you’re booking another test and looking into buying a dressage saddle.
Like a lot of amateur owners and riders I’ve learnt a lot just by doing it, reading about it and learning from the pros, but I also have an Equine Nutrition Award by The University of Edinburgh and would love to find time to do another course soon. I started to chart our progress on my Instagram account as, let’s be honest, who doesn’t take hundreds of pictures of their horses!
Stay up to date with Caroline and Rock's journey by following her on instagram @grey_connieadventures