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Equestrian Advice & Guides Beginners Advice
We’re nearly three months into the lockdown now and I’m sure for the majority of you, your eagerly planned equestrian summer has ground to a halt, in the same way as it has for us. Of course, we understand the necessity for the current measures but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy!
As a horse owner, I live a fairly active life. I’m 21 and just finishing off my second year doing a degree in Equine Science. I live in Cheshire, a fairly horsey county, and have ridden from as early as I could say the word 'pony'! With everything for the foreseeable future cancelled, it is hard to find motivation, but going to check on the horses helps to break the day up a little.
My motley crew currently includes a 15.2hh Connemara called Freddie who is in perfect shape (round is a shape after all!) and a 13hh Section B (mostly) affectionately known as ASBO Max.
Max is a special sort of pony, what you might call a “typical welsh”. He has no idea he is built like a delicate rocking horse, instead being utterly convinced he is 17.2hh and rules the roost wherever he goes. He has a classic case of small man syndrome, although I’m 98% convinced he also thinks he’s a dog… Like I said, a very special sort!
Freddie is the other end of the scale. Generally speaking, if he were any more laid back he’d fall over. He is only 12 but sadly had to retire as he didn't come right following surgery. However, excitingly, after a year untouched at grass, Freddie is looking remarkably sound so we're moving him up to where I currently stable with the hope of restarting him again... so you will probably hear much more about him in the future!
Having had the pair of them turned out at grass for the last 12 months, after years of stabling through winter, I think field-keeping them was more of a shock to our systems than theirs!
I also had another young Connie who was recently out on a trial with one of my friends. They were keen to buy him and, although I loved him to bits, I had to accept that we just weren’t the right match for each other anymore, so I was happy to see him go to another loving home – for those of you who may be feeling similar, there is no shame in admitting something isn’t quite right.
I recently found a new addition to the clan (a lot quicker than I expected to!), Amber. She is a 14.2hh registered Belgian Warmblood and has proven so far to be an absolute sweetheart, totally derailing the 'typical chestnut mare' stereotype. She is 16 and came to me just under 3 weeks ago in fairly poor condition which we found was due to needing some dental work done. She's absolutely flourishing already and I'm hoping next season to aim her at some bigger shows, depending on how we get on at lower level throughout the rest of this year and over winter.
A few years ago, I had the idea of getting a couple of youngsters to back and sell on. I started with a little Dartmoor pony who was nervous of her own shadow. She turned out fantastic, but I ended up buying her back as her new owners weren’t looking after her properly. I found her forever home soon after she came back, where she is given the pampering she deserves. Then I stumbled upon Max. My Mum loves show ponies so she fell in love with him, but he ended up being the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced.
Max is 13hh and very narrow so really is too small for most adults. The problem is, he is frightened of children. Yep, the pony I bought with the intention of being a child’s show pony hates children. Go figure. So here we are, 3 years later, and I’ve still got him. He’s basically an expensive lawn mower, but you just can’t help but love him.
In between times, I’ve done a fair bit of showing with the native ponies in M&M classes and a lot of days out to fun rides, hacking and weekend camp, but I feel like I’m yet to find my “thing”. Perhaps a change of horse will give me a chance to try something new... here’s hoping!
I moved away to university in 2018 and I am just about to make the move permanent, having found a little flat close to campus. In my spare time, aside from the horses, I enjoy writing and walking as well as being an active member in my uni’s Student Association. I tend to constantly be on the go, so this current period of quiet has been a bit of a struggle, as I’m sure many of you can understand. The light at the end of the tunnel is that this current situation will not last forever and at least those of us fortunate enough to have horses can go and tend to them, ride and still enjoy time outdoors. Unless you are our farrier, who had to contend with Max in a bad mood last week. Between uni work at home, the dogs and ponies, and organising things for the flat, I’ve managed to keep somewhat busy... although, I don’t think I fully understand the meaning of the word downtime.
I hope everybody is managing to keep safe. And to any NHS and key workers out there, thank you for all that you are doing to keep the country running!