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14Dec 19




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. 
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.
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.

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.
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.
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. 
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.
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'.   
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.
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.
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...'


Dressage Training

Dressage training needs variety, including pole work

Dressage Training

Dressage training needs variety, including pole work

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.


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.