NOT A GOODBYE BUT A NEW BEGINNING
COMPETING AT DUCHY COLLEGE
On the way to Duchy College. Having learned to drive in a country as flat as a pancake on straight wide roads with white lines in the middle, made the journey from Fowey to Stoke Climsland with its narrow winding roads and steep valleys very exciting, and so when I arrive in my shabby yellow 7½ tonner I am pretty much exhausted whereas the day has barely begun.
And overheated. Why did I chose Duchy College as my first competition? Also the first outing for my homebred very chestnut mare Marie? I begin to feel far more exposed than necessary. It is all the wrong way around. I have already instructed privately for some time and now I have to show I could actually do it myself.
When horse and rider are both dressed properly we proceed to the warm-up arena breathing purposely slow to stay in charge of the jumpy nerves. On foot. Marie does have the occasional tiny nap related to being in season and it is springtime when she seems nearly always in season.
Near the warm-up there are several Duchy employees eyeing up this newcomer from foreign countries and so the pressure is building. I have to admit, I’m not great at getting on from the ground, so I launch myself with vigour and as my leg flies over her back Marie does a one-eighty underneath me. This results in me falling on the floor on the other side of her. I bravely resurrect myself and grin sheepishly at the employees. ‘Well, it’s obviously going to be a great day.’ Not much response so I get back on again, this time with success.
Warm-up outside goes well but indoor school is frightening, so before we are able to start our test several white boards have to be put back in the correct place.
Two Novice tests later we have qualified for the regionals on our first outing and the trip back is a piece of cake.
REGIONALS AT KINGSTON MAURWARD
So far the description of my first competition in Cornwall in the early nineties. Now fastforward to what turned out to be our last competition. The winter regionals at Kingston Maurward where we qualified for our PSG Freestyle. I love the regionals. The atmosphere is always great with that positive kind of electricity.
The plan is to leave at 11 in the morning. However, the ewe with the big grey face decides to throw her triplets that morning, two weeks before lambing is meant to start. I spend three long hours on my knees getting the little buggers on the teat so that we can leave the house-sitter with a clear conscience. Buz (husband) and I finally jump in the lorry at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. By the time we get to the most treacherous bit along the Dorset coast it is dark and foggy with oncoming lorries blinding us and I dread very much falling off the cliff I am driving on. Two days later, on the way back in bright sunshine, I find out that the cliff doesn’t exist but is actually a very nice flat stretch at virtually sea level.
GRINDING SOUNDS IN THE NIGHT
Back to arrival at the competition venue. We are guided to our stable with a torch and after Marie has had her walk in hand in the indoor arena and is settled down in her temporary home with a full haynet, we settle down in our ‘living’ with salmon and potatoe salad by candlelight. This is out of necessity because we do not have lights. Nor steps, which nearly breaks my leg during the night when I climb out to check what the very loud grinding sound is that just woke me up. I am right. Marie is eating the stable wall. The only option is to get her her morning haynet and let her stuff herself. Her favourite thing.
That morning I can see from her stable through a perfectly round hole in the wall into her neighbour's stable and notice that this very smart warmblood has one of those plastic balls with holes in it in which hardfeed goes that comes out as the ball rolls around. It must have driven Marie crazy and I can see her point. Also, I now know she has a fair bit of wood in her stomach. All in all not a great recipe for a successful day.
THE LITTLE BOY
My neighbour of the very smart horse arrives. She is also very smart and so is her husband. Their little son, bored to tears, is driving his bike around until the chain comes off. Because his parents are so busy with the horse and each other Buz fixes the bike so the little boy decides Buz is great and keeps him entertained with conversation.
Marie and my performance isn’t our best but by the time Buz and I settle for some more potatoe salad I have accepted it and am already thinking about a slightly different approach for the next outing. A knock on the door and there is Buz's little friend with some sweets as a thank you for fixing his bike. Again more entertaining conversation. But as he looks around he suddenly falls silent. After a thoughtful pause he says, ‘Your lorry could do with a lick of paint, couldn’t it.’ Buz is speechless and I rolling with laughter.
That year Marie and I not only qualified again but also did our first Intermediaire I. And then it all came to a very abrupt end. The decision had to be made very quickly to end unnecessary suffering. The very next day I had a phone call with an invitation to take part in a clinic with Conrad Schumacher. I cried long and loud.
But there is new field jewelry. Pinokkio arrived first and is a great friend for Pixel, my new project, and I believe the bond is finally there to be excited about the future. She is turning more into Marie by the day. The horse is the mirror of the rider comes to mind.
THIRTY YEARS FLOWN BY
My first pupil was Lorraine Ball. It must have been in the late eighties and when I think about that I realize how thirty years have just flown by. Lorraine was still very young and full of spunk. Teaching her in a huge field with the Atlantic occasionally throwing horizontal rain at us was a challenge. Lorraine disappearing out of sight because Ben did a runner was another. We had fun and it was a great start for me.
I’ll continue with some more of the highlights of my teaching career in Cornwall. Being welcomed in the yard of Claire Rushworth was a real bonus. Spending time with a show-jumper of her caliber was extremely helpful for my development. It is where I started to teach her then working pupils Claire Daniels and Tors Nicholls. These two great friends had, still have, their unlimited work-ethic in common. Claire later took on my first bred Bodrigan and together they jumped the stars out of the sky. It cemented a long teacher-pupil relationship from her event horse Feathers going advanced to Claire’s little but incredibly brave show-jumper Paso, also showing prospect as a dressage horse.
I met Martyn Humphrey at Claire Rushworth as well. It is still a very proud feeling that together we turned Damarisk into a PSG horse. Something many thought to be impossible.
Then there were Katie Nicholas and her mare Priddy, surprising themselves as they moved through the dressage ranks. With her parents supplying me with endless cups of tea. And of course Nicky Turriff with her very special Lux storming into the HOYS arena with emotions running high after her excellent round. Her triumphant wave with that big smile to the Cornish section was out of this world.
Event riders Kate Rowe, Lucy Lloyd, Davina Pritchard and Becky Maitland came to me some years ago and from the beginning those four stood out for their commitment. Working full time and always punctual, upbeat and well prepared for their lessons. Hat off to them.
Watching George gradually bond with Liz Bailey after all they had been through was a truly emotional experience.
Time moves on, people come and go, and there are some new faces. Ex-racehorses seem to be in vogue at the moment and they are a different kettle of fish all together. They often have a complicated past and need to learn to trust the human being again. But they love being loved and in exchange love giving back. Joey and Merlin both have found owners who are able to give them what they need and that makes it very easy to work with them.
But there is one little star who needs an extra mention. Jacob, the 13.3 moorland pony. Bought by Helen Howe for just over 40 pounds in an auction. Being pulled off the moor in feral state to learning to trust human beings is an art in itself and Helen did a smashing job. But when I met them Jacob was either going too slow or too fast, with no interest in dressage at all. To see them trotting and cantering, enjoying showing off and Jacob with his ears pricked is such a treat. And he doesn’t just do it at home but also at the few shows he has been to.
Jacob proves that size doesn’t matter. Damarisk proved that an unusual attitude can work for you if you’re patient. Bodrigan proved that you don’t have to have perfect conformation to become an outstanding show-jumper. And if all goes according to plan, Joey and Eleanor Dunstan are going to prove that a thoroughbred can beat a warmblood in the dressage arena.
Every horse I’ve worked with has taught me more than I taught them. And it keeps on going. It never ends and that is what I love about my job.
A WONDERFUL JOURNEY
By now you probably wonder where this is going. This is my last blog for this site. Thank you for reading and responding. From now on my website will be stationary so that you can still find me, contact me, ask questions or book a lesson.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing the blogs. A wonderful journey which resulted into writing my book ‘The Farmer, The Coal Merchant, The Baker’ which in turn gave me the chance to blog for Dutch equine magazine the ‘Hoefslag’. In that process I met subtop dressage rider Maarten van Stek who has visited and done some great clinics in Cornwall with hopefully many more to follow. Added bonus, he, his husband Marc and I became great friends.
I loved meeting up with horsemen and women in England and the Netherlands in order to write about them. The afternoon with Lipizzaner expert Atjan Hop beating every meeting so far because of the chemistry we had from the word go. ‘We are wearing the same sweater’, he joked when we met outside the train station. Which was actually true and the start of a most entertaining afternoon.
In Devon meeting Lorna Wilson at Newton Stud stood out because of Lorna’s extraordinary inventive and forward thinking methods. That combined with her dry sense of humour, gave me a wonderful insight in why Newton Stud became so successful.
The time at the stallion show in Den Bosch, when I was introduced to dressage rider and trainer Remy Bastings with whom I had an interesting conversation about the grading and training system of the stallions. I really liked his clear vision and honesty and hope that, one day, I can visit his yard for a longer chat and another blog for the Hoefslag.
All those blogs are still on my website, so if you haven’t read them, please do. If I feel the urge to write more I will do that through Facebook from now on.
Okay, I’m off. Other challenges on the horizon. Thanks again, safe riding and you know where to find me when you need advice.
Pixel and Pinokkio
Marie at Advanced level
Marie at Kingston Maurward
Pixel and Pinokkio again
Claire Daniels jumping Bodrigan when she just had her
Lucy Lloyd with TomTom
Helen Howe with Jacob when we had just started
My book 'The Farmer, The Coal Merchant, The Baker'
LOCKDOWN, WHAT TO DO NEXT...
Lockdown, a word that we never really used until some weeks ago. How fortunate that it coincided with spring and lovely weather. Even more fortunate that I am blessed with a playpen of 60 acres and a nice horse to work with.
But, man, did I miss my pupils! And also my trips to their yards through lanes with hedges covered in primroses and bluebells. The view over the Atlantic on my way to Tintagel.
Lockdown is now just about over and limited freedom allowed. We can meet with one person outside and are allowed to drive somewhere in the car and hopefully if everyone behaves and keeps their two metres distance we don't run into a second wave of infection so we can keep this freedom going.
ZOOM, WHATSAPP AND WETRANSFER
However, lockdown has changed us. If anything, has made us all more inventive. It was Claire Daniels who set me up with Zoom so that I am able teach her from my own chair in my own living room. Daughter Tia took on being the camera girl and doing an excellent job.
The first time it took us half an hour to set it up because of several awkward hick-ups. At first I couldn't get a full screen. I tried everything. It turned out Tia had to turn her phone sideways and there it was. Lovely Paso and Claire were now filling up the entire screen in the most charming way. However, there was another problem. Claire could hear me perfectly well, but I felt I was listening to a hurricane when she started to trot and canter. I was just about ready to say that I couldn't really teach her like that when it solved itself. Claire stopped to adjust her headset because it hurt her neck in canter. From then on it improved to the sound of a fresh breeze which was perfectly acceptable.
Last week I got my first WhatsApp video from Helen with her horse Merlin which I watched and afterwards sent her some comments. This morning we already improved on this by her sending the next video through WeTransfer. I pushed on my laptop the start button for the video at the same time as the recording button on WhatsApp on my phone in the hope that this would synchronize my comments with her training session. It worked! Helen called me immediately afterwards and could not hide her excitement.
It taught me something, too. It is actually quite lovely to see pupils make their own decisions about how to set up their training session without me telling them what to do next. No micro-managing possible. It shows me how independent they are which is hugely important. At the end of the day they ride most of the time without me and also go to shows on their own. This is an excellent way to help them to learn to make better decisions if necessary and have a system which they can depend on.
THE WORLD WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN
The newspapers are full of it and everyone is talking about it. This virus is going to change the world. It will never be the same again. So many are having a terrible time, locked up in an apartment, losing someone they are close to or having to work in the hospital with all that horrible kit on, day in day out.
I feel so lucky to be where I am with the life I'm able to live. And when hopefully one day we have lived through this ordeal I think that some of the ways of teaching I have now 'invented' with the help of Claire and Helen could stick. Especially in the winter when often lessons have to be cancelled due to rain and wind. The pupil picks his or her own gap in the weather and I can come back with my comments on my own schedule.
So, I think from now on I'll use both methods. Of course I'll take the car because I do want to see my pupils and their horses 'live'. Other times use the computer. Added bonus which shouldn't be underestimated, it saves time and fuel for me and makes the lessons that bit cheaper for my pupils.
Top picture: playing at home
Second picture: Claire on her young mare Ola from my own living room
Third picture: watching a video from Helen on Merlin
Bottom: camera girl Tia and her brother Rio
'THAT DAY WAS A BEAUTIFUL DAY...'
JUST A LOVELY STORY ABOUT A GREAT FRIENDSHIP
We were on our way to Killiow near Falmouth, Buz and me. It was a beautiful fresh spring morning with the bright sun sparkling the young leaves on the trees and the grass so shiny green you could just about see it grow. We still had our old Morris Minor convertible, and wore several layers of woolen sweaters, so we could have the top down. I was excited, wondering what I would see in the fields of the estate. That she would look like I imagined, that she would be the one I would want to take home with me.
That day became one of the most unusual days of our life. The mare was exactly as I hoped but it was the turn of events that made our visit so extremely memorable. It was also the beginning of an endearing friendship between a retired farmer in his seventies and a young woman of barely thirty years old.
Ian, a well-dressed fairly heavy-set man with a crown of white hair and a high forehead above impressive black eyebrows, walked towards us as soon as we drove up in front of the grand old house. When we shook hands, I recognized the same twinkle in his eyes as when I met him the first time at a friend’s house.
We walked together into a gently sloping field below the house, separated by an enormous border of huge camelia's, still in full bloom. There were several horses in the field, but I only had my eyes on the solid black mare with the big white face. She knew it, lifted up her head and wandered over to us. I fell in love with her right there and then, her gentle eyes looking at me as if she knew.
After I had looked the mare all over, we wandered back to the house, enjoying the first little bit of heat in the sun on our backs. However, something unusual happened when we entered the impressive hallway. There was this strange rough sounding voice, like sandpaper, from somewhere in the far dark corner. ‘Ian, who are they. Give them a wallop!’ Ian looked alarmed and tried to hurry us up the stairs to his office, however, Buz escaped, attracted like a magnet to that voice.
Upstairs Ian explained to me that, after he retired farming, he took on the job of turning Killiow from a private home into a business. Still, this didn’t explain the unusual voice from downstairs, and although I didn't dare to ask, inside my head it screamed to find out more.
After having agreed on the price for the mare which didn’t take long, Ian and I walked down the stairs with me wondering where to I lost Buz. Nowhere to be seen. So we walked outside and there, ambling along, was Buz next to an unusual looking woman with what could be a perm in a fairly unidentifiable colour, wearing a tweed skirt, thick red woolen stockings and silver high heeled shoes. When she saw me, her arms full of a huge bunch of camelia's, she made a straight run for me, growling ‘I love your husband!’ and I immediately recognized the voice from the dark corner in the hallway. My husband with the broadest grin on his face was following her. They had obviously had a grand time.
To say that Ian looked flustered is an understatement. He quickly said goodbye and disappeared back into the house. And after the woman had pushed a piece of fax-paper in the hands of my husband she gave us both a warm embrace and we drove off, gobsmacked about this most unusual meeting. At home we couldn’t believe what we read on the piece of paper we were handed. It was the dirtiest joke ever!
A few weeks later, the mare was delivered and Ian and his wife Bar came to see her in her new home with a most special gift. One of the beautifully crafted saddle racks from the original stables at Killiow which were turned into apartments. This was the beginning of a long and enduring friendship. I have fond memories of the many cups of tea and great conversations we had in their cosy living room late afternoon after my lessons near Truro had finished.
After Bar passed away, when I visited Ian, he would often talk about his earlier life. Little did I know that, before he became a farmer he worked for his dad as an architect! I had no idea, always thought he was a farmer, because that is how I met him.
His tales from the past were exciting with such great and unusual details. For example, his commission to draw the plans for changing the Manchester Evening Chronicle stables for the Hackney ponies used for deliveries into apartments. Ian was so sad that the beautifully tiled walls from the stalls had to be ripped out that he managed a plan to save one wall with a spaced wall in front of it. This way it could always be removed if the need was felt to uncover such a special piece of history.
He remembered how in the morning the Hackney ponies flew in their fastest trot through the streets of Manchester, the boys on the traps with their electric shouts when throwing off stacks of papers at exactly the right moment in front of the shops without slowing down even the tiniest bit.
He told me about the streets in Manchester in those days. How, until the early fifties, some of those streets were covered in huge pine planks to soften the clatter form the metal shoes on the huge feet of the docile Clydesdale horses, pulling the wagons with cotton from the docks to the factories. This to make life for the people living on those hectic streets somewhat more bearable. How the extremely valuable wood miraculously disappeared to goodness knows where, when lorries took over from the horses.
At one of those visits I finally took up the courage to ask Ian who she was, that strange lady we met on our visit to Killiow, when we first met. And Ian told me the story about Annie Penrose, nicknamed Spitfire.
Annie was the daughter of Sir Robert McLean, chairman of Vickers Aviation Limited. The story goes that after a flight in the small but ever so brave little fighter plane his company had designed and produced, he jumped out, saying that there was only one suitable name for this plane. ‘Spitfire’, the nick name he gave to his exuberant and fiery daughter in her early life.
The colourful Annie Penrose has done justice to her nickname and, just like the fighter plane, lived an exciting life with friends such as Vivien Leigh and Laurens Olivier. Rumour has it, that at some of the RAF parties, where she was a steady guest of honour, she occasionally travelled on the hands of the pilots through the room.
By chance, I met this woman, now older and still living the house she loved so much, never having lost her vigour and sense of mischief. Sending my husband and me home with a piece of fax-paper with on it a very dirty joke. That day, we truly met history.
To be honest with you, I did know the day Ian told me this story was probably the last time I would see him. Even with oxygen he was struggling. So I gave him a hug, said good bye and walked into the hallway, feeling desperately sad.
Ian called me back, ‘Liz, the day you bought that horse, that was a beautiful day...'
The saddle rack Ian gave me all those years ago is in the hallway with my saddle. After having given me five super foals the lovely mare I bought from Ian is long gone. I am now moving speedier than I like towards the age of Ian and Bar when I met them. Life moves fast as it is filling up with more wonderful memories all the time.
MAARTEN VAN STEK IS COMING BACK!
A CLINIC IN MAY
Yes, Maarten van Stek is back on form! And visiting Cornwall again for a clinic in May. Last year he couldn't make it due to a lengthy recovery period because of multiple leg fractures after having been stuck under his horse who had a very unfortunate slip on the concrete.
Yet again, the fact that Maarten is back riding and instructing after such a horrendous accident tells you of his phenomenal resilience. We, who have met him and were already part of his clinics, know his story. Maarten has been at the dressage subtop for many years, despite the fact that he lost one arm because of an accident when he was only six years old. Other than having trained numerous horses ready to compete Grand Prix, he has coached five Dutch riders into Grand Prix level and 17 into the PSG.
MAARTEN: UNDERSTANDING, FORGIVING AND A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOUR
What I personally find Maarten's greatest gift is, that he, despite the fact that he himself has had to be as tough as nails to have such a brilliant career as a sublime horseman, he is very understanding and forgiving to anyone struggling at any level.
Having trained so many horses and riders to the highest levels, there is nothing kocky or snobby about him and his sense of humour, together with his knowledge, has given all of us the chance to feel secure and free to ride with confidence, at the same time able to absorb his comments and thrive. For me it has meant I have developed my teaching skills through watching him and for my pupils it meant we were able to continue our journey with more focus and understanding about where we are heading.
Below some statements from some who have taken part in Maarten's previous clinics in Cornwall:
Lucy Lloyd: Maarten's clinics have been invaluable to tweak and improve many aspects of our training programme. This helped me to move up to medium level dressage, something I never really thought I would achieve on my old eventer, Tomtom.
Becky Wilkins: I had a lesson with Maarten on his last visit and I can honestly say that it was incredible. He identified and addressed the small issues that I was having with my little mare and made a huge difference to the way she went. I was then able to work on his advice afterwards with Liz. With Maarten and Liz's help we've been consistently in the top 10 after dressage which we definitely weren't before. I would strongly recommend booking for a lesson with Maarten, he is brilliant!
Emily Skerrett: I had a lesson with Maarten when he visited the UK last, and really enjoyed it. I am a grade 5 para rider and found it very helpful being taught by someone who not only understood my disability, but my fierce independence and also understood my hot warmblood who then was recently imported from Holland. He worked with us with a lot of sensitivity and insight which left me feeling more empowered and confident with some good tools to help my horse. Looking forward to seeing him again!
Davina Pritchard: Maarten is a really inspirational trainer. He is very firm, direct and clear in what he expects from you as a rider and he doesn’t settle for anything less than 100% commitment. Yet he is insightful and generous with his time and knowledge and helped gain real improvements to my riding and my horses way of going.
Liz Bailey: I have been lucky enough to participate on Maarten's clinics in Cornwall over the past few years. He has a superb manner of calmness and confidence about him, putting yourself and your horse at ease very quickly. His lessons are incredibly informative & fun & I find myself referring back to moments within our sessions multiple times long after the event. I always try and make time to watch some lessons throughout Maarten's clinics too, there's so much to learn!
Claire Daniels: My horses and I have been so fortunate to have had several lessons with Maarten on his visits to Cornwall. Every experience with him has led to several light bulb moments, turning some training methods completely upside down! Maarten has a true gift in enabling riders to help their horses in an amazing way all through working within their natural instincts. In a single lesson he is both inspiring and so intuitive that you always come away on a real high, eager to continue in the same fantastic groove he’s shown you and addicted to achieve that ‘feeling’ from then on!
Maarten van Stek clinic dates at Tall Trees: May 18, 19 and 21. £70 per session. Claire Daniels is taking bookings on messenger WhatsApp or text. Mobile number: 07790 394234.
FROM COURT CASE TO SCHOOLMASTER
IN FOAL TO MAYHILL
A couple of weeks ago, I got a message from Charlene Derbyshire, saying that TingTang, Tinky, as she called her, at 28 years old had taken on a new job as a schoolmaster.
Heavens, didn't that bring back memories.When her stout mother plopped TingTang in the straw I was quietly watching over the door which made it extra special. It was a late still night and the sound of that first suck with mum gently nuzzling that little curly tail was such a sweet moment. Three years later I backed her and put her into foal to Mayhill, the eventing stallion from Marc Todd standing at the Bleekmans in Cullompton. Because she was very straightforward I thought I could probably put a few more months work into her before she would start her maternity leave. A NASTY WOLF TOOTH Unfortunately this didn't go quite to plan. To cut a long story short, after several bit-related incidents the vet found a nasty well-hidden little wolf tooth, which was removed. I was happy with the advice to leave her be until she'd had her foal and so TingTang was turned away with her older sister Bodrigan, who was also in foal to Mayhill. BACK INTO WORK AND SOLD The following spring she had the tiniest little foal, which I called Tegen, the Cornish for 'pretty little thing'.
After weaning TingTang went to my friend Tiddy Hamilton at Bolventor, who helped me with most of my young horses in exchange for dressage lessons. Selling horses has never been my forte and the moor is a good place for a young horse. Tiddy brought TingTang back into work with the aim to be sold.
This is when Charlene, who visited Tiddy regularly, fell in love with her. She rode her occasionally and enjoyed hunting her, but couldn't quite make up her mind to buy her, and so, when a seemingly nice mother and daughter turned up who liked her, TingTang moved to Devon.REARED OVER BACKWARDS Three months later the phone rang. The woman who bought TingTang told me they were having terrific problems. TingTang had reared over backwards several times and they wanted to know, had she done this before. I explained to her about the wolf tooth and, yes, that she had reared a few times before it was found because it was well-hidden. But it was dealt with and after a year off with a foal there had never been any issue whatsoever. I knew TingTang was straightforward when sold and so I became a little suspicious about what they had done to her. LOCKED UP FOR FIVE DAYS IN A STABLE I prodded along a bit and was finally told that, unfortunately, it had taken five days for the insurance to come through after she arrived at her new home, so for this reason they had kept her in for that time. 'Day and night?', I asked. 'Yes, day and night', was the answer. And then, without ever turning the poor horse out her daughter got on her in a cobbled yard, TingTang lost the plot, and fell. I reminded the mother that TingTang had spent most of her life outdoors and that this information was passed on when she was sold. The conversation turned a little tense, to say the least. TING TANG HOME I actually was more worried about TingTang than I was about her new owners, so I decided to offer them the same money they had paid me and bought her back. Two days later she was with Tiddy again and behaving absolutely normal as if nothing ever happened. As soon as Charlene realized TingTang was back she bought her straight away. SUMMONED TO COURT Sadly for me, this was not the end of the story. A week later I was summoned to court for having sold a dangerous horse. I felt so in the right and convinced of my innocence that I nearly fell of my chair when the judge agreed with the buyer because, he said, when I bought TingTang back I had proven my own guilt. I was made to pay another 500 pounds. I know, it could have been worse and it didn't kill me, but I felt betrayed and cheated on. TINGTANG AND CHARLENE HAPPY Still, the main thing was TingTang was happy, Charlene was happy and I so relieved, that my girl found the right home. Charlene stayed in touch and occasionally they visited for a lesson. Charlene was super enthousiastic and joined the Camelford Riding Club. Not everything was easy. TingTang was young and I knew from her older sisters that their mum passed on what you might call 'character'. ENDURANCE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP However, together they found that endurance riding was their forte and in early 2000 they were on the team of the Camelford Riding club which made it to the national championships at Alfred's Tower in Somerset and ended up with an impressive third. CROSSING THE PENNINES But there was more fun to be had and these two liked a challenge. In 2003 Charlene and TingTang crossed the Pennines together with three riding friends and their horses for the charities The Laminitis Trust and the National Osteoporosis Society. They rode for 21 days, 25 miles every day, achieved a climb to 2,450 feet to Great Dunn Fell, rode down the River Tees Valley to Garrigrill and over Hadrian's Wall to the Keilder forest . It was a slightly crazy and brave undertaking which involved getting stuck in a bog and one of the horses putting a foot in a wasps nest, but they did it. An experience of a lifetime and something to be extremely proud of. A BOND AND A LOVE AFFAIR I know Charlene won't mind me saying that she is a hobby rider and TingTang did not always do exactly as she was told but when it mattered, TingTang took care of her and they had, still have, a bond and a love affair that many riders who may have jumped bigger fences never achieve. And now Charlene's beloved Tinky is 28, sound as a bell, and making a young girl happy. What a success story. I will never regret I bought her back although I do take umbrage that I was portrayed as an untrustworthy horse dealer. I put her in the world and so I felt the responsibility to give her a life. And Charlene certainly gave her that. 28 Years old and going strong. ----- Note: TingTang's foal by Mayhill, Tegen, went to a very handy and fun young rider who evented her successfully at Intermediate level. After that I called breeding horses a day. 'Fools breed them for wisemen to buy...'
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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.