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I have been asked to get on board and do some writing for Horsemart and I guess I should start by introducing myself!
So I’m Liv, I’m 28 and I run a small yard in footballer’s wives country, Cheshire. Sadly I’ve not managed to bag myself a United player as of yet and so I do have to make some effort to work, but lucky for me it doesn’t really feel like it!
I mainly specialise in the production and sales of 14.2s. I absolutely love sourcing and producing ponies for kids. It’s a pretty niche market to specialise in and I actually fell into it by accident whilst I was helping a local family find a pony. I realised there were very few people offering a service that provided professionally well produced, kid-friendly ponies that didn’t require parents to remortgage their houses. I love seeing the ponies I’ve found make their new jockey’s dreams come true and become a child’s best friend.
I’m also lucky I get to teach loads of really cool kids. Despite being at an age where I should probably have a husband, a child or at least a savings account, I get to pretend I’m still one of the teenagers, and spend a lot of my time watching them do incredible stuff on their super hero ponies.
We also have full grown-up sized horses at home, which I mainly event, although we do dabble in a bit of showjumping, mainly because I like the sparkle and lack of a dressage test.
But I guess the most interesting place horses have taken me is Netflix.
I’m very lucky that I have been asked a few times to body double on TV sets for when the actors themselves don't ride. I wish I had a fabulous story about how I made it through a string of strict auditions, or I was spotted at a show and some producer cried out, “Who is that girl? She has the most perfect bone structure for the camera!” But the truth is, a friend text me to say a Netflix show filming in Cheshire needed a small female body double and would I like to go jump a puissance wall for the day? And who could say no to that?! I was going to get paid for jumping a puissance wall! In any other life I’d pay to have a go at doing that!
It’s a very cool job to go off and do. Of course it’s interesting to see behind the scenes of a camera crew and the money is pretty brilliant compared to a day riding at home. But for me the best part is the people you meet on set.
I’ve spent my days as a body double talking to riders, nurses, ex forces, engineers and even an undertaker! I learnt more about corpses during one scene than I ever expected to know...
The days are really long, be prepared to get up in the dark and eat breakfast when you really aren’t hungry. Speaking of breakfast, the catering is brilliant. Anywhere that includes dessert with lunch is a winner for me.
Not every horse makes you want to bring them home... trust me.
But it’s the people who are truly excellent and everyone is up for a good laugh.
Most recently, a production company flew me up to Scotland for a few days to film for a tv show and I genuinely came home feeling like I’d been on a riding holiday with a group of friends! Everyone looks after you, as generally you’ve got no idea where you’re supposed to be or what you’re meant to be doing!
I always wanted to be in Hollywood as a small child, sadly those dreams were shattered as I can’t sing or act and so body doubling has been a nice way for me to experience life on set and all the fun things that includes. My favourites being going into hair and make up and being dressed by the costume department, obvs...
Riding is considered an actual skill on set amongst the muggles and I suppose we take for granted in the equestrian world how amazing our relationship with horses really is. It’s nice to see people who aren’t used to witnessing it get to enjoy the horses.
I’m not from an equestrian family and I didn’t ride properly or compete until my early twenties.
I was adamant I wanted to be an artist or an event rider. I couldn’t be trusted to go to University and do actual work, so I went to be a working pupil at Georgie Spence’s, who I'm now lucky enough to call my best friend, despite me being one of the more terrible employees she’s ever had. She’ll be the first to tell you I was beyond useless on the yard. I’d go as far as to say I was the worst groom anyone has ever had. But I think that’s a perfect example of how this industry works; if you’ve got a good attitude, you're trustworthy and generally a nice person to be around, people will take a chance on you and want to help you when you inevitably make horrible, horrible mistakes. And trust me, did I make some absolute blinders.... top of the list is sending her off for a 4* dressage test on a very important 5* horse with not one single stud in..... how she didn’t beat me with her schooling whip I do not know! If that happened to me in a be90 I’d have a heart attack, let alone a 4*!
Every opportunity or new direction I’ve been offered has always felt like it was just because I was talking to the right person at the right time. But I do believe that in the equestrian world the right balance of a good work ethic and friendly personality will get you much further than being the very best rider in the world. Lord knows I’m definitely not that...
So I guess I’m the person to offer reassurance that even if 'all things horse' doesn't come naturally to you, or you aren’t the offspring of double gold medal winning, 13 times Badminton champion and inventor of the sitting trot, there is space and opportunity in this fascinating, ever-changing industry for someone with a sense of humour and enthusiasm.