Like every year, 2012 has been full of its ups and downs - finally setting up here in Manchester, buying my first unbroken 3yo, enduring a strangles hit, finding and rehabilitating Tyke, extreme weather, finding a great yard to work from and people to work with, buying a horsebox, losing the horsebox and then finally getting the horsebox back up and running in time to finally get everything out and jumping something before the end of the year ready to step it up in 2013. But mostly 2012 has been about all the horses, ponies and riders I've had the privilege of being able to meet and work with, to see them grow and progress and achieve their goals. The unrideables becoming rideable, the unjumpables taking on their first courses in style (and not-so-much style!), the rearers keeping their feet on the ground (for the most part), the non-rider mastering rising trot, the nervous and lacking in confidence cantering those 6 strides, jumping that 1.20m fence, riding out on the roads, tackling those trotting poles, going bareback, and finally realising what it feels like to ride a horse light in your hands and soft from nose to tail. And Heath. Oh Heath.
I have continued to learn from each and every person and horse I've met and have thoroughly enjoyed seeing partnerships progress over time. I look forward to seeing what 2013 holds for each and every one, and to the new partnerships I hope to meet.
And hopefully that's my sentiment quota for 2013 filled as well ;) Here is my year in pictures.
Jan - March
- In January I met my first Manchester clients and had only 14.2hh mare Oscar in my care whilst looking for a 15.2hh young, broken horse of my own to get me back into jumping and producing.
- In February I saw an advert for a 16.2hh unbroken 3yo who caught my eye due to the fact that he was related to my old jumping horse, Del Boy. He was inquisitive, sweet, smart and could really jump, so I glossed over his height and complete lack of riding experience and 2 weeks later he was home and under saddle.
- In April things really started to pick up, with more horses and students every week. I met Odin - a beautiful, playful and difficult 15.1hh Welsh x Arab gelding who came to me for breaking and would challenge me in ways I've not experienced before or since! On his first day he stood at the back of the stable and reared at me, a sign of things to come!
I think April was also the month I met Heath for the first time - a very angry, difficult and quite frankly scary horse who I would go on to write about a few times in this blog. More to come on Heath!
Around the 14th of April the horses were turned out in the summer fields, after being without all winter. It was all just a bit too much for Troy, who got a bit excited and kicked out as I lead him up towards his field. I landed in a heap and couldn't get up, leading to an interesting experience involving paramedics, an ambulance, morphine and an ATV! I fractured my arm but could have been a lot worse off as Troy wasn't wearing back shoes and I wasn't wearing a hat. However I had horses to break and riders to teach so no time to spend recuperating!
In fact just a couple of days after this, Odin dragged me around the arena by a lunge-line ;)
May - Another busy month! Troy had his first experience jumping a course at Church Farm and Leigh, and his last for almost 7 months. Shortly afterwards he came in with suspected strangles, was flushed out and left in a field as far away from any horse or human as physically possible! He did not love his time in the field and the weather was appalling a lot of the time, but we did get to spend some quality time together and it gave him some time to mature.
I also bought the fantastic Buzz who arrived an absolute nervous wreck. I met Tallulah - a little 12hh black firework who made me laugh (and tear my hair out) more than any other horse or pony I've ever been sent and who I continue to see now on a weekly basis.
May is also the month Tyke came into my life - difficult to catch, underweight, bald patches on his face, arthritic and wearing the same 3 shoes he'd had on for the last 4 months. I bought him to sell on quickly but it slowly became apparent that this would not be the responsible thing to do and he wasn't going anywhere. And he won't.
June - Getting to know Buzz and Tyke, whilst Troy continued to sulk in isolation! Took advantage of one of the rare not-raining days to have a play with Tyke over fences. This is also when I met the super-talented and quirky Archie and his owner Stacey for the first time. It also rained. And rained and rained and rained.
July - Troy was finally saved from his isolation hell! The horses got to spend a lot of time chilling out and having some fun in some rare sunshine. But We also had the most biblical day of rain of the summer! Nora the horsebox also came to stay. Tyke had his first tooth removed of many to come.
But most fun of all was a cross country day at Somerford with Buzz, who was an absolute superstar. As most of you will know, give me a 1.60m oxer and a horse to jump it and I'm alright but a small solid log and I need a change of pants! I think some of my facial expressions below will sum up my feelings, but hopefully you can also see how awesome Buzz was!
August - Gripped and obsessed by the Olympics for the first part of the month, then off to Kendal with Tyke and Somerford Park and Delamere Forest with Troy for some horsey holidays, courtesy of Nora. Troy finally starts to get his sparkle back since coming back into work after strangles, but still got a way to go. But he continued to drop a worrying amount of weight and Tyke's feet finally fell apart, leaving him unable to walk out of the field and earning himself a good rest.
September - We relocated to our new base at Brook Farm in Little Bollington and said goodbye to Buzz who finally found himself the perfect home. Troy started to put weight back on and fill out and the troop settled in quickly to their new digs. Heath really turned a corner and even impressed us with some jumping!
October - Misty and Topper came to stay on the day of our first frost of the year! Misty proved to be a popular girl and went quickly, but I've hung on to Topper until the New Year just to have some fun with as he's just my type! He's now for sale again and will be much missed when he does go.
Tyke seemed to turn a corner and really took off this month. Archie arrived at the end of the month and as you can see, really made his entrance!
November was a relatively quiet month for the horses due to being really busy with lessons. We had a 'gridwork' day and Troy did a clinic at Mary Marsh. The horses came in for winter (sob) and we had some very cold weather!!
In December we FINALLY got out to some shows after Nora being in hospital forever.
Mary Marsh Equestrian - 16th December
Tyke - 1st in the 75cm, 6th in the 85cm
Troy - 4th in the 85cm, 2 refusals at the last in the 95cm, his first attempt at this height.
Archie - First ever show-jumping course at 65cm he just didn't know what was going on but only had one refusal. By the next class he had tackled his fear and ended up 4th in the 75cm with a good double clear.
Bold Heath - December 23rd
Tyke - 1st in the 85cm and qualified for Trailblazers
Troy - An unlucky 4 faults in the 85cm and 3rd in the 95cm.
Archie - A refusal in the 75cm, otherwise jumped bravely!
I can't wait to see how they progress and develop through 2013.
Video's are available on my YouTube channel