From the age of four, Liz was regularly lost, and found again, sitting somewhere in a nearby field staring at a Shetland pony. At that time, her parents were not in the position to solve this desire to be in the vicinity of anything that had some sort of an equine shape. However, when she was eight she somehow made a contact with a very nice lady who had no children but did have a Shetland pony. This was the beginning of lots of being bucked of and getting back on again. There was Pony Club and Riding Club later on, with many different ponies and horses, the ones with behaviour problems loved most of all.
The beginning of a professional career with horses was brutally ended by an accident. A leg amputation was only just avoided; the recovery long and hard. For many years, it made riding problematic, at times impossible. But there was one thing she could do: watch others ride. For years, she sat next to many a trainer, watching, listening, learning. Never giving up a well hidden hope for some sort of future with horses.
In her early twenties she started to ride more regularly and did some training for several yards and competed. Also, she was giving lessons, groups or private.
In 1986 Liz moved from The Netherlands to Cornwall. She was asked to teach the North Cornwall Pony club and did so for just over twenty years. Some great training relationships came from that with various pupils maturing into confident professional riders, mainly eventing. She also spend some time in The United States where she trained for the Portsmouth Mounted Police Force and trained and instructed in a private dressage yard, by then working at advanced level.
In the meantime Liz had bred some Irish Draught Thoroughbred crosses which she produced. The first bred, the black mare Bodrigan, went as a six year-old to her pupil Claire Daniels who by then was a locally based successful event rider. Bodrigan and Claire shone for years in the grade-A show-jumping scene. The second was full sister and very chestnut Marimaid who seemed quite interested in dressage and less so in jumping. Marimaid and Liz competed Prix St. George and trained Grand Prix. During her lessons with Pammy Hutton, Pammy would lovingly call her a carthorse. This explains what a great learning experience it was in order to understand that commitment and patience are able to turn a fairly common horse (sorry, Marie) into something special.
Liz has several strengths. First of all, she understands the human body and its shortcomings from personal experience. Second of all, as much as she can propel a good horse forward in its career, she likes the challenge of working with the `not so perfect horse’ in order to prove the opposite. She is strict but has tremendous patience with anybody who really wants to learn and shows commitment. She is inventive and open minded in order to solve potential problems. She is able to give sound advice on management issues. She is happy teaching people who want to learn but not compete, but also will support competition riders in their trials and tribulations of understanding how to achieve a successful show or event.
In 2013 Liz started her freelance writing career with website Horses International. From there she developed her plan to write her book 'THE FARMER, THE COAL MERCHANT, THE BAKER...'. Using her youth as the the common thread, she described the increasingly fast change of the Dutch farm horse into the famous sport horse it has become through the life stories of some of the most prominent breeders and trainers in Gelderland, still active today.
Since the beginning of this year Dutch equine magazine the Hoefslag has asked her for a regular blog which has been extremely well received.
About Liz Barclay
Her love for horses together with her dedication made her into the trainer and dressage rider she is, today. She is versatile and inventive and likes a challenge; whether it is a technical training question, a confidence issue or a problem involving the management of the horse or pony.
THE FARMER, THE COAL MERCHANT, THE BAKER...
My book 'THE FARMER, THE COAL MERCHANT, THE BAKER...' with the subtitle 'A Personal Impression of the Development of the Gelderland Horse World' has been received with more enthusiasm than I possibly could have hoped for. Click here to contact me and I will send you a copy. £7.50 + postage, or click here to order from Amazon.