I come from a non horsey background. Neither of my parents were in the slightest bit horsey and not that many years ago, when Hickstead was on the tv, they asked if they might see me show jumping! Certainly not doing Dressage!
I began my obsession and love of all things Horse at school continually writing essays about horses, painting horses in Art classes and begging Mum and Dad to let me start having riding lessons. I even used to borrow a Shetland pony from a neighbour and groom him and ride him around our lawn in the back garden! He was called Santa. Considering we lived not too far from Heathrow airport at Ashford Middx it all seems rather surreal now!
I loved my riding lessons and the obsession continued. I started the sixth form at Ashford Grammar School but didn’t enjoy it very much and so I left and instead, went to work at Bishops Gate Riding School near Windsor Great Park as a working pupil for Jenny Clifford and take my BHSAI exam much to the fury of my Dad! Whilst there I started showing purebred Arabians for Jenny Clifford which was a great opportunity looking back. I rode the National Champion Zail and won the National Championships for Performance Arabians which included Dressage, Show jumping, Showing, Cross Country and Barrel racing!
I then moved to Arborfield Berkshire to Crosslanes to train with Pat Manning FBHS and Dot Willis, Ginny Elliot’s Mentor and trainer to do my Stage 4 and Intermediate exams. That was when I caught the Dressage bug and it never left! I learnt so much from Pat Manning and then the opportunity arose via Dot Willis (who has remained a close friend for all these years) to ride Ginny Elliot’s event horses on the flat at Ivyleaze in Gloucestershire.
What an incredible experience and learning curve that was, I was lucky enough to ride and compete several of the youngsters plus Master Craftsman, Murphy Himself, Welton Houdini and many more. Heather Holgate also bought the Dutch horse Kimchi for me to produce and compete and I did the same with the lovely Ben Faerie son Benevolent. Benevolent moved like a gazelle and I won my first dressage Championship with him at Ardingly, he then took me to my first National Championships which was then at Goodwood. Very sadly he became a violent head shaker and went home to his breeder Diana Scott to become an MFHs horse with Staghounds in Devon. Benevolent was the first horse that totally broke my heart.
I met my very good friend Jenny Gillett whilst freelance teaching and we became firm friends for life. Jenny has owned, and I have ridden, many different horses and we’ve had such fun over the years. We’ve certainly had our fair share of ups and downs that’s for sure. Horses such as Starfighter, Rythmical, Boudewijn, Fidelio 1 all gave us lots of happy memories (and heartbreak) and plenty of success along the way. Whilst Jenny and I were at Brook Farm, Melissa Morgan very kindly gave me the ride on her lovely grey stallion Kings Pattern. We had success and he taught me so much.
It was at about this time that I met Gary, we’ve been together for 22 years and married for over half of those. We’ve run a dressage training / livery yard for all of that time together and have been very lucky to have been able to do what we both love.
I was fortunate enough to be trained by Jook Hall, Arthur Kottas and of course Dot Willis and Pat Manning.
A fun year, a little later on, was taking the handsome dark brown thoroughbred stallion Red Crescent from Novice to Advanced in one season, getting to the Nationals with him and also being part of a ridden stallion display at Badminton Horse Trials. Happy times!
I started training with Carl Hester about 9 years ago. I obviously don’t need to say how utterly inspirational his lessons are. Not only is he the best trainer and rider in the world but a lovely kind genuine generous and funny human being who loves his dogs and horses.
If the tiniest grain of that comes through into my own teaching and training then I’m very happy indeed.