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Hello! I’m Holly, I’m 25 and you can often find me hacking around the so-called ‘Garden of England’, Kent. Currently, although I don't have my own horse, I am making my return to riding after a seven-year break.
I set up my own blog and Instagram account earlier this year, where I am known as Return of the Hack; I am thrilled to now be a Content Creator for Horsemart too. I hope my future blogs will offer solutions to problems many horse riders face, as well as providing an insight into equestrian life from an average, everyday rider point of view – let’s face it, after a seven year break, I am no Mary King!
So, I’ll take you back to where it all started, a 5-year-old Holly and a grey, 12.2hh pony called Bracken. I am not from an equestrian background; I only started horse riding as my local yard offered an ‘own a pony’ scheme through the school holidays, which was perfect for my parents who had to work.
I still remember the first time I rode Bracken, from that day on all my holidays and weekends consisted of was being dropped off at the local yard at 8am and picked up at 5pm – I had officially caught the equestrian bug!
As my love for all things equestrian continued to grow, so did the moaning to my parents. Eventually they gave in and by the time I was 9, I had my first loan – a 13-year-old, 15.2hh, skewbald cob by the name Jigsaw.
My first time riding Jigsaw
I had three wonderful years with Jigsaw until she was sold by her owners, although she was a very lazy pony who wasn’t very good at show jumping (my love at the time), she had the biggest heart and taught me so much.
As a teenager, I grew very quickly, meaning by the age of 12 I was riding large horses, including a 17.1hh ex-race horse (thankfully the growing stopped when I reached 5ft 9in at age 14!).
My first time cross country schooling as a 12-year-old on 16.2hh William
I eventually moved to a more competitive yard where I began focussing on training to event. I fell in love with dressage (where the long legs finally looked elegant) and started to jump higher.
I was lucky enough to be taught by a former Advanced Intermediate Event rider and a former Show Jumper who had competed above 1.50M – I owe a lot of my knowledge to my fantastic instructors and will never forget the lessons they taught me. Especially my first time jumping a 1.10M course where I lost a stirrup over the second to last fence, this resulted in me heading to the floor upon landing. Safe to say my stirrups conveniently went ‘missing’ for my next few lessons!
Unfortunately, I never had the money to own my own horse. Instead I continued to loan and ride a number of different horses over the four years. I started to compete at local unaffiliated events and was training for my first British Eventing 80 One Day Event when sadly, at the age of 16, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture of my 1st metatarsal in my right foot.
I was heartbroken that I missed my first season eventing due to having five months off while my foot healed. However, the problems with my foot persisted until unfortunately, at the age of 18, I had to stop horse riding for a year.
During my year off riding, the muscles in my back weakened and I began suffering with a lot of back pain, which made my return to horse riding difficult. After years of suffering with back pain, and infrequent riding, I went to the doctors and was diagnosed with dehydrated discs of the L4, L5 and S1.
The bad news unfortunately continued – more recently I also was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and hyper-mobility syndrome with ongoing reviews by a rheumatologist.
However, determined not to let health keep me away from horses, I started physiotherapy and going to the gym to get myself fit enough to ride again. Slowly, I am getting back in the saddle, starting with gentle hacking but hopefully on my way to eventing once again!
In terms of the future, if I can keep my health and pain under control, my aim is to compete again. I also have dreams of producing horses and ponies in eventing and show jumping disciplines – watch this space!